Walker, Boynton lead No. 13 Florida to 85-67 win
By MARK LONG,
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida coach
Billy Donovan has fond memories of Veterans Memorial Arena. He’s 7-0
there, including two wins in the 2006 NCAA tournament that turned out
to be the first steps in winning consecutive national titles.
He’d like to book another trip to
Jacksonville in March. If the Gators keep shooting like they did Friday
night, it could happen.
Erving Walker scored 18 points, Kenny Boynton added 15 and No. 13 Florida used 12 3-pointers to beat Jacksonville 85-67.
“They’ve got to shoot the ball with
confidence,” Donovan said. “If those guys have looks, they’ve got to
shoot the ball. It’s good for our team.”
It certainly was Friday.
The Gators (8-0) made eight of their
first 12 shots from behind the arc to start the second half. That’s
more 3-pointers than they hit in six games this season. It also helped
them blow open a close game.
Jacksonville sliced into a 12-point
lead and made it 60-56 on Lehmon Colbert’s baseline jumper. But the
Gators pulled away from long range. Walker, Boynton, Dan Werner and
Chandler Parsons all hit two 3s in the second half.
“It’s definitely nice for a change,”
said Boynton, who entered the game shooting 18 percent on 3s. “We all
knocked down shots when we needed them.”
The Gators won their ninth straight
in the series and improved to 8-0 for just the third time in school
history. Florida started 17-0 in 2005-06, the year of the first
Vernon Macklin added 16 points and
was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. Werner chipped in 13 points, and
Parsons finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
Ayron Hardy led Jacksonville (0-5) with 16 points and six rebounds, while Travis Cohn added 15 points.
The Dolphins kept it close much of the game thanks mostly to 16 offensive rebounds, eight steals and five blocked shots.
“That’s our makeup,” coach Cliff
Warren said. “We have to fight, scrap, claw to go get rebounds. We knew
we were going to be undermanned size-wise, so that’s how we have to
It worked for a while.
But the Dolphins faded down the
stretch – maybe showing some wear after a tough season-opening stretch.
Jacksonville played Florida State, California and South Carolina on the
road – the toughest schedule in the nation, according to the latest
Nonetheless, the Dolphins lost their home opener for the second straight year.
Florida fans outnumbered the home
crowd significantly, no surprise since the campus is just 75 miles away
and there are thousands of Florida fans living in the Jacksonville
The Gators hope to be back here in
March for the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament. If so,
they can hope the nets are as friendly.
Florida was 12 of 20 from 3-point
range, a better clip (60 percent) than it shot from inside the arc (57
percent). The Gators entered the game with 39 3s in seven games and had
not shot better than 37 percent from 3-point range in any game this
They won several games, including
upsets of Florida State and Michigan State last week, with staunch
defense and a relentless press. This one, though, came courtesy of the
“Our No. 1 priority this year is
going to be defense,” Walker said. “We know you cannot shoot the ball
well every night and we want to stay in games with defense. Of course,
everybody wants to shoot the ball well, and when it’s going in, that