Benched because of his attitude in practice, Pat Young responded as well as Florida coach Billy Donovan could have imagined.
Young had 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks as the seventh-ranked Gators routed Marquette 82-49 Thursday night in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
Young played with energy and effort, the kind of performance Donovan expects every night from his 6-foot-9 junior center.
”My job as a coach is to bring out the best in Patric Young as a player,” Donovan said. ”Right now, he wasn’t doing that. It wasn’t performance. It was effort, his attitude, his disruptiveness in practice that caused me to say you’re not starting. Give Patric credit. He responded with a great effort.”
Young was one of six players in double figures for Florida (6-0).
The Gators took control midway through the first half, building a double-digit lead thanks to Michael Frazier II’s hot hand and solid defense, and never let up.
They kept things rolling after the break, opening up a 23-point lead on Will Yeguete’s layup.
And get this: the Gators stayed unbeaten without much help from Kenny Boynton. The team’s leading scorer missed his first six shots and was scoreless until hitting a jumper with 16:34 remaining.
Boynton finished with six points on 2-of-11 shooting. Frazier (17 points), Yeguete (11), Casey Prather (11), Mike Rosario (11), and Erik Murphy (10) all scored in double digits.
Vander Blue led Marquette (5-2) with 20 points, the team’s only player in double figures.
Florida’s balanced scoring was impressive, but was overshadowed by Frazier and Young.
Frazier made 5 of 8 shots from 3-point range, getting on such a role in the first half that teammates started looking for the 6-4 freshman guard.
”I don’t know when I started feeling it,” Frazier said. ”I kept playing, kept shooting, I was open. My teammates did a great job of finding me, and shots went down. The bucket did seem a little bit bigger than usual. When you get extra shots up and your teammates find you, you can’t ask for anything more.”
Young, meanwhile, came off the bench for the first time this season.
But he played nothing like a reserve. He dominated the boards and did all the little things. He had two monster blocks, a couple of nifty passes, went after loose balls and had a leaping steal near midcourt that turned into points.
”I believe that (Donovan) sees something far greater than what I see in myself, and I just need to embrace the moment of adversity,” Young said. ”When he says he’s squeezing us, I need to embrace those moments and trust my teammates to help me because I don’t have to do this on my own.”
Florida held Marquette to 41 percent shooting, the latest shutdown for Donovan’s defensive-minded team. The Gators have held opponents to 26 or fewer points in 10 of 12 halves this season.
The Golden Eagles scored 24 in the first and 25 in the second. They finished 3 of 12 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 14 times.
Marquette had won three in a row and was looking to avenge last season’s loss to the Gators in the NCAA tournament. Florida won 68-58 in the round of 16 in Phoenix.
Marquette lost Jae Crowder and Darius-Johnson Odom off that team, but the Golden Eagles showed little drop-off while playing Butler tight in the Maui Invitational and beating Mississippi State and USC.
But they were overmatched in Gainesville.
”I’ve never been beat this bad in my entire career — 179 games as a head coach,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. ”That’s the worst loss. Not close.”
Florida opened a 23-13 lead midway through the first half, pushed it to 38-20 on consecutive 3s from Frazier and could have cruised in the second half.
Instead, the Gators poured it on. Frazier’s fifth 3-pointer made it 70-39 with 6:14 remaining.
About the only concerns for the Gators were a couple of minor injuries.
Murphy went to the locker room with what appeared to be a hip injury, and Scottie Wilbekin went down with a right leg injury
”They’re good enough to win the whole thing,” Williams said.