No. 9 Florida 77, N.C.-Wilmington 60
Florida’s most anticipated season in four years opened with few
Chandler Parsons scored 16 points, Alex Tyus added 13 and the
ninth-ranked Gators beat UNC Wilmington 77-60 on Friday night.
Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy chipped in 10 points apiece for
Florida, which returned five starters from last season’s NCAA
”It was good. It wasn’t perfect,” Parsons said. ”We have a
lot of things to clean up.”
The Gators don’t have a lot of time, though. They host No. 4
Ohio State on Tuesday, a game that will give coach Billy Donovan a
better feel for what he’s got this season.
Florida trailed by five points early, but used its size and
depth advantage to pull away late in the first half. The Gators
pounded the ball inside to start the second half, created turnovers
with their press and opened a 24-point lead before cruising the
rest of the way.
The program won its 20th consecutive opener.
Chad Tomko led the Seahawks with 15 points, while Trevor Deloach
Florida spoiled the debut of first-year coach Buzz Peterson, who
faced the Gators eight times as head coach at Tennessee (2002-05).
Peterson spent last season at Appalachian State. He has also worked
at Tulsa and Coastal Carolina, and served as director of player
personnel for the Charlotte Bobcats.
His newest team shot 48 percent from the field, but couldn’t
overcome 20 turnovers and a 14-rebound disadvantage.
”There were a lot of jitters,” Peterson said. ”Florida’s tall
and they’ve got good speed. I really like Billy’s team. He’s got a
log of guys returning and this could be a good year for them.”
The Gators earned a No. 10 seed in last season’s NCAA tournament
and added one of Donovan’s most talented freshman classes.
Florida’s combination of size, experience and depth made it a
preseason favorite to win the Southeastern Conference and a trendy
pick to get back to the Final Four for the first time since winning
a second consecutive national title in 2007.
That team- the one with roommates Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Corey
Brewer and Taurean Green – had few weaknesses.
This one, however, still has plenty of uncertainty. The Gators
struggled most of last season from 3-point range and played spotty
They weren’t a whole lot better in the opener.
UNC Wilmington made its first four 3-pointers before cooling off
Florida, meanwhile, missed its first four from behind the arc.
Tyus, a power forward, made the first 3-pointer – an ominous sign
for a team that was the worst shooting team in Donovan’s tenure in
Boynton, the team’s shooting guard, missed all six of his shots
from 3-point range. Parsons was 1 for 4.
The Gators finished 6 of 19 from behind the arc. They made up
for it with 17 offensive rebounds and 18 assists on 28 baskets.
Donovan found plenty else to scrutinize. He wasn’t pleased with
his team’s 15 turnovers and said his guys gave up way too many easy
”We’ve got to get more disciplined,” Donovan said. ”I think
that we have a team that can press. We’ve got to get more
disciplined in terms of what we’re doing and I do believe we have a
chance to be a good pressing team. We’ve just got to keep getting
better at it.”
Florida’s freshmen give Donovan enough bodies to rotate often
and press the entire game. The freshmen were somewhat quiet in
their debut, although they showed flashes of ability and plenty of
potential throughout the game.
Scottie Wilbekin led the way with three points, five assists and
four steals. Patric Young, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete were a
combined 3 of 10 shooting, chipping in seven points and four
”It helps a lot,” Boynton said. ”I can’t remember too many
times in the game when I was tired. Coach had us rotating in and
out, and they gave us good minutes off the bench.”