UCF at Florida game preview
Game time: Friday at 4 p.m.
TV: ESPN 3
Florida got a scare when its leading scorer exited the last game with a sprained left ankle. Although Billy Donovan's team didn't have any trouble finishing off an overmatched opponent without Kenny Boynton, he'll likely need his senior guard for this next stretch.
Boynton is expected back Friday when No. 7 Florida hosts a Central Florida squad that upset the Gators in the last meeting two years ago.
The O'Connell Center fell almost completely silent with 13:23 left in Tuesday's game against Savannah State, as Boynton grimaced in pain after landing on an opponent's foot while driving to the basket. The preseason all-SEC selection, who's averaging 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds, had to be helped off the court and didn't return.
"I was praying he was OK," senior guard Mike Rosario told Florida's official website.
Afterward, Donovan said Boynton could have returned if needed - the Gators (4-0) cruised to a 58-40 win - and should be back in the lineup Friday.
"Based on his flexibility, his range of motion, those kinds of things, where he was tender, the doctor and trainer did not think that he would miss our next game," Donovan said.
That's good news with Florida's schedule about to get much tougher, as matchups with Marquette, Florida State and No. 10 Arizona follow this contest. While those big-name programs are looming, the Gators are not about to overlook UCF (3-1).
The Knights defeated then-No. 18 Florida 57-54 at Orlando's Amway Center on Dec. 1, 2010, after losing the first nine meetings by an average of 27.0 points.
UCF, which upset fourth-ranked Connecticut last November, returns two of its three leading scorers from 2011-12 in Isaiah Sykes and Keith Clanton, but is off to an shaky start.
The Knights squandered all of an 18-point second-half lead before rallying to defeat Savannah State 53-50 on Sunday, and was outscored 45-28 after halftime in Tuesday's 75-61 loss to Middle Tennessee. Sykes scored seven points in the latter after averaging 21.0 in his first three contests, but UCF got strong play down low from Clanton (15 points, eight rebounds) and Tristan Spurlock (17 points, eight boards).
Clanton, who had 12 points and nine rebounds against the Gators two years ago, and Spurlock will likely have their hands full against Florida's formidable frontcourt of Will Yeguete of Patric Young.
The play of Yeguete and Young in the paint is one reason why the Gators are so tough defensively, as they allow an average of 44.0 points and 30.8 percent shooting.
Yeguete averages 7.5 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds and Young is coming his best performance of the season, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high six blocks against Savannah State. The 6-foot-9 junior averaged 9.7 points, 7.0 boards and 2.0 blocks in the first three contests.
"Patric felt like after the first three games that he should be playing at a higher level," Donovan said. "He came out really focused. ... When he plays really hard with great passion and great energy, there's no way that he should not score 15 to 20 points and he should not grab between 11 and 15 rebounds every game."