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."