Following some recent struggles by its top scorers, Florida hopes Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy further show they’re back on track before SEC play begins.
The No. 13 Gators play their final non-conference tune-up as they face Yale on Sunday in their first road appearance against an Ivy League school.
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Florida (9-2) returns to action for the first time since a 78-61 victory over Air Force on Dec. 29 in the Orange Bowl Classic outside Miami. Coach Billy Donovan’s team, which had lost two of its previous three games, shot 53.8 percent and held a 36-25 advantage on the glass.
Murphy had team highs of 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Boynton added 14 points, matching his highest-scoring game of December.
With SEC play beginning Wednesday against Georgia, the Gators hope the combined performance by Boynton (12.5 points per game) and Murphy (12.1 ppg) is a sign of good things to come for the seniors.
After totaling 14 points in the previous two games, the 6-foot-10 Murphy went 8 of 10 from the field to earn game MVP honors.
“(It) was really a complete game for him,” Donovan said. “He scored in a lot of different ways.”
Boynton, meanwhile, was 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the previous five contests but made three 3s in a span of eight minutes in the second half to help the Gators pull away.
“It was good to see the ball go in,” Donovan said of Boynton, who ranks third in school history with 282 3-pointers.
“This is not the first time he has gone through something like this. I’ve always told him when he’s having a tough time shooting, the biggest thing he can do is take good available shots. When he makes a couple, then he can start taking a little more difficult shots, because he’s in that rhythm.”
Boynton scored 26 points and Murphy added 18 while each went 5 of 7 from beyond the arc as Florida shot 53.4 percent in last season’s 90-70 home win over Yale.
The Gators are 6-2 all-time against the Ivy League, and they’ll play in front of a sold-out crowd backing a Yale squad that snapped a three-game skid with a 61-54 win at Holy Cross on Friday.
Sophomore Armani Cotton came off the bench to set career highs with 20 points and 12 rebounds to help the Bulldogs (5-10) prevail despite shooting 32.2 percent and committing 16 turnovers. Cotton totaled 69 points in his previous 27 career games.
“I pride myself on effort,” Cotton told Yale’s official website. “Not every shot is going to go in, but you can always control effort.”
Cotton and the Bulldogs will need a strong effort to remain competitive against the Gators, who rank among the national leaders allowing 52.2 points per contest.
Senior guard Austin Morgan averages a team-leading 12.1 points but has totaled 15 on 4-of-18 shooting in the last two games. He shot 4 for 12 and scored 10 at Florida last season.