No. 7 Florida 91, North Florida 55

Kenny Boynton’s game has evolved well beyond 3-point

shooting.

Boynton scored 20 points, Erving Walker added 17 and No. 7

Florida bounced back from a loss at Ohio State to beat overmatched

North Florida 91-55 Thursday night.

Coach Billy Donovan was concerned about how his team would

handle a short turnaround and travel. It turned out to be much ado

about nothing.

”I think that says a lot about our focus,” Boynton said. ”We

got in (Wednesday) morning. Coach preached to us that we’ve got to

have a great deal of focus coming into today’s game. We wanted to

come out and not have any excuses. No one cares about what happened

the night before. We just wanted to come out and play well.”

Mike Rosario had 15 points, and freshman Bradley Beal chipped in

12 points and 10 rebounds for the Gators (2-1), who won their

eighth consecutive home game.

This one was completely one sided from the opening tip.

Florida built a double-digit lead in the first eight minutes,

opened a 17-point cushion by halftime and pulled ahead 70-34 on

Mike Rosario’s 3-pointer from the corner midway through the second

half. Florida coasted from there, turning to its reserves for the

final minutes.

Parker Smith led the Ospreys (1-2) with 17 points. Travis

Wallace added 12 points and eight boards.

The only blemish for Florida was free-throw shooting. The Gators

finished 16 of 29 from the charity stripe, the second consecutive

game filled with misses for coach Billy Donovan’s team. Florida was

13 of 21 from the line in an 81-74 loss against the No. 3 Buckeyes

two nights earlier.

Donovan took the blame for the misses, saying he hadn’t had his

team work on free throws enough in practice.

But they were hardly a factor against North Florida – thanks

partly to Boynton.

He was solid from the start, scoring from behind the arc, on

drives, on jumpers and from the free-throw line. He also finished

with five assists and just one turnover, showing the kind of

well-rounded offensive game Donovan wants from his best

defender.

”He’s really made some great steps and I’ve seen improvement

every year since he’s been here,” Donovan said. ”He came in as a

prolific scorer, and that’s kind of what he knew. Last year, he had

a better understanding of shot selection and extra passing. Right

now, he’s really done a nice job of assist-to-turnover ratio,

driving it and not just relying on a 3, getting in the lane,

mid-range jumpers. He’s starting to add some different things to

his game.”

Boynton scored 14 points in the first half, helping the Gators

overcome a slow start from fellow guard Walker. He was 1 for 6

shooting, 0 for 3 from 3-point range, and had two turnovers in the

first half.

Donovan challenged Walker at the break, and the senior responded

better than his coach anticipated.

Walker made 3 of 4 shots from behind the arc in the second half.

His 17 points were a season high, considerably better than his

10-point performance in the season opener and his four-point

showing at Ohio State.

”I think you can get into a little bit of senioritis, where

you’re a senior and you kind of want everything to kind of go well

and you want it to be a really good year and you’ve paid your dues

and you’ve worked hard,” Donovan said. ”And then when it’s not

going well, there’s almost this, `Why me?’

”I think Erving Walker his whole entire life has been a fighter

and I don’t think because he’s a senior he can stop fighting. I

really challenged him in the second half in the locker room and I

thought in the second half he competed and he went back to having

that fight in him. We need him to have that fight because I think

that impacts the rest of our team.”

The Gators were 11 of 29 from behind the arc, and had 18 assists

on 32 baskets.

North Florida committed 21 turnovers, struggling to beat

Florida’s press and getting outmanned in the paint. Patric Young

had seven points and five rebounds for Florida, and fellow forward

Erik Murphy added 13 points.

”This might sound crazy, buy Young is the key component to that

offense,” North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said. ”He knows

his role in that offense and he plays it to the hilt. He’s the

reason all those guys are so open on the outside.”