Gators score signature win over Kansas State
By BILL KOSS
Florida Gators Basketball Color Analyst
If Florida had changed jerseys during halftime, you would have sworn it was a totally different team that took the floor in the second half against Kansas State on Saturday afternoon.
The Gators failed to score a point in the first seven minutes of the game and somehow trailed by only three points at the half. With just two first-half assists and 13 first-half turnovers, it appeared like the nation's sixth-ranked team would send the Gators home with their tails between their legs.
But it would be the tale of two halves. With the toughness that has come to symbolize Florida's relentless defensive mind-set, the Gators opened up the floor in the second half to score in transition and used outstanding half-court spacing to attack the rim. They stunned the Wildcats in the second half for a 57-44 victory in the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla.
It is a signature win for Billy Donovan, who once again has taken an unranked Gators team and upset a top-10 nonconference opponent. Florida used its versatility to change up offensive looks and guarded a bigger and stronger Kansas State team with great help defense. Florida made the extra pass in the second half but most of all attacked the rim off the dribble and seemingly had their way in scoring transition baskets.
The Gators showed offensive patience as they involved everyone on the floor in a possession and did not force shots. With the Gators having nine days to prepare and the Wildcats seven, each team seemed to have the other figured out defensively. Kansas State had 12 more shot attempts than Florida but made a miserable 27.3% against an attacking Gators defense. The Wildcats actually missed 17 straight shots at one stretch in the game. They were 1-for-25 in about a 14-minute stretch.
In the second half, Florida did a spectacular job of taking good care of the ball with just five second-half turnovers. The Gators also got good looks at the basket, especially coming out of timeouts with set plays.
The Gators began attacking the Kansas State defense in the early half of a shot-clock possession. They got to the rim by using the angles in the defense and making the extra pass.
Chandler Parsons came alive at about the 15-minute mark of the second half, scoring in transition and then diving to deflect a Kansas State pass. That seemed to build the Gators' confidence as they began to knock down perimeter shots.
Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Erik Murphy scored decisive baskets to put the game away down the stretch.
Florida now has 92 wins over ranked opponents in its program's history, while Kansas State's 44 points is the fewest number of points scored by an opponent in all of those wins. It was Donovan's 17th win over a top-10 team as the Gators' head coach and the program's 42nd top-10 win overall.