Rosario leads Florida over Arkansas
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)
Just as No. 5 Florida was regaining a key element of its success, the Gators lost another.
Patric Young scored 14 points, giving the Southeastern Conference leaders the strong inside presence they have missed lately.
However, Saturday night's 71-54 victory over Arkansas came with a heavy price. Freshman Michael Frazier II, one of the team's top reserves, sustained a concussion in the second half and will be sidelined indefinitely.
The Gators already have been playing without forward Will Yeguette, who's been out since early February after undergoing surgery on his right knee. Frazier's loss means coach Billy Donovan's preferred rotation of eight players is down to six.
"I don't know how severe it is," Donovan said, adding that Frazier may have struck his head on a teammate's knee when he fell to the court. He was helped off the court with 11:42 remaining.
"Obviously, there are baseline tests that they will do on him," Donovan added. "I don't know how long he will be out for."
With Young having his way posting up Arkansas' frontcourt, and Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton having success driving to the basket and making timely shots from the perimeter, Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC) had matters well in hand when Frazier left.
Rosario scored 15 points and Boynton and Erik Murphy had 12 each for the first-place Gators, who avenged one of their two losses in conference play.
Donovan insisted before the game that his team, beaten 80-69 by Arkansas in Fayetteville on Feb. 5, was not seeking revenge. Nevertheless, Saturday night's rout was satisfying.
"I'm not coach Donovan. He says it's not a revenge (game), but I wanted to get them back. Everyone on that team wanted to get them back because the way they acted after they beat us was a little ridiculous," Young said. "But, you know, I guess that's what happens when someone beats the Florida Gators. When we get wins, it's not that much publicized, but when we lose everyone wants to know about it. We just really wanted to get that win tonight."
In addition to getting some payback, the Gators also bounced back from squandering a 13-point lead over the final 11 minutes of a 63-60 loss at Missouri to regain a two-game lead in the SEC over Alabama, which lost on the road earlier in the day to LSU in triple-overtime.
Florida arguably played its worst game of the season in falling behind early and losing to Arkansas, but never trailed in this one. Boynton made a 3-pointer to open the game, Rosario scored on a fast break and Young followed up a miss by Boynton with a rim-shaking dunk for a 7-0 lead.
The putback and a capacity crowd in the O'Connell Center seemed to energize the 6-foot-9 Young, who took just seven shots and scored four points in Florida's previous two games. Boynton made a layup and a runner in the lane to put the Gators up 23-13 before the Razorbacks settled and gradually chipped away at the deficit.
Donovan said Young set the tone for a successful night by demanding the ball, something the junior center doesn't always do.
"It's a total choice by him. It is a mentality. It is a commitment. ... If he gives that kind of effort and plays like that all the time he's going to have 10 rebounds, he's going to have 12, 14 points," Donovan said.
"It's not like Patric's not getting the ball. You know what, as big and as strong as he is, there's no reason why he shouldn't demand the ball every single time when he gets down inside," Donovan added. "Now, are there times our guys miss him? Yes. Is there times he should get the ball and he doesn't get it? Yes. But there's also — like tonight, my daughter could have thrown the ball inside to him tonight. He was open. He made himself available and he wanted it and he had a presence."
Arkansas trailed 32-28 at halftime, despite only getting three points from leading scorer BJ Young — all on free throws — and playing the final 10:45 before the break without Marshawn Powell, who made three of his first four shots before picking up two offensive fouls that sent him to the bench.
The Gators pulled away for good with an 11-1 spurt to begin the second half.
Rosario began the surge with a reverse layup, Boynton fueled it with a long a 3-pointer and Young finished with a jump hook and another rebound dunk that left the Gators in control at 41-29 with just under 17 minutes to go. Frazier's second 3-pointer hiked the lead to 17, and the closest Arkansas got the rest of the way was 16 points with 31 seconds remaining.
Coty Clarke made all eight of his field goal attempts and led the Razorbacks with 18 points, while Anthlon Bell finished with 14. Powell had seven points — none in the second-half — and Young also was scoreless after halftime, finishing 0 for 8 from the field.
"When you don't make shots, you see the result," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "You can get behind really early with those guys because they're pretty potent with all the double-figure scorers they have."
Arkansas shot 36.2 percent. 21-58. 6-27 on 3-pointers
It was unclear how Frazier was injured at the end of a play in which Rosario leaped over press row to go after a loose ball on the defensive end. Donovan thought the freshman guard might have hit his head on guard Scottie Wilbekin's head.
"From what I can gather, I think he hit Scottie's knee. He's having some neck pain and I think his neck got jerked forward pretty well," Donovan said. "So, I think he's dealing with some neck issues, but again I have no idea the severity of the concussion."