Erik Murphy was ill all week. Tonight he was just sick. Really sick. After almost being scratched from the lineup due to complications from the flu, Murphy toughed it out and almost singlehandedly shot down the Wisconsin Badgers with 24 points on 10-10 shooting as the Florida Gators downed the Badgers 74-59. Mike Rosario had perhaps his best game as a Gator finishing with 15 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds. Kenny Boynton chipped in 10 points and 3 assists as he continued to man the point in Scottie Wilbekins absence.
Murphy tied his career high while becoming only the third Gator to go perfect from the field for the game with double digit attempts joining Joakim Noah and David Lee . The Gators jumped on the Badgers early and cruised to a 43-31 halftime lead shooting a blistering 75 percent from the field. The Gators finished the game shooting a fantastic 61.9 percent from the field. Murphy had a great night rebounding as well tying Will Yeguette with a team high 8 boards apiece.
Leading the way offensively for Wisconsin were forward Sam Dekker and and center Jared Berggren each with 11 points. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said after the game,
“I thought we had some looks. We’ve got guys in practice that hit those same shots.”
It was not to be, however, for the Badgers tonight as a stifling Gator defense held the Badgers to 35.6 percent shooting while dominating the boards 40-21. The lone bright spot for the Badgers was the 20 turnovers they got which helped to keep them in the game in the first half when Florida threatened to shoot them out of the O’Connell Center.
Asked about the Badgers defensive performance against Erik Murphy, Ryan said
“I don’t hang my guys out, but the things we worked on, they did the opposite.”
In response to a question concerning Florida’s inside out game Ryan responded,
“That’s how you get to the elite eight a couple of years in a row. This isn’t a surprise.”
Erik Murphy has been working hard to develop his inside game to make him more effective in the post rather than just a three point shooter. It showed tonight as Murphy was dominant inside. Donovan said in the post game that they have worked with him from different spots getting him to score over the top of players inside. He added that Murphy’s ability to catch and score underneath the basket has been very critical to his success.
Mike Rosario, who Donovan had called out over the summer for his inconsistent practice habits and his inconsistent play, had his best game as a Gator. Donovan said he has really enjoyed coaching Rosario,
“It’s a battle every day. He makes wacky plays sometimes that drive me nuts,” but “I have not been frustrated coaching him.”
The Gators next play Middle Tennessee State on Sunday in Tampa. Tip off for that one is at 4 pm eastern and will be televised on Sunsports/Foxsports South.