The Florida Gator travelling road show took a stop in Starkville, Mississippi Saturday evening for a relatively easy 82-47 victory. In contrast to Wednesday’s victory over Georgia, the Gators never trailed and victory was never in doubt. This one was over so quick they might ask for a refund on their motel room fare.
With Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy shooting the lights out of Humphrey Coliseum, the Gators (16-2) cruised to their eighth straight victory and 6th consecutive conference win. After opening the SEC schedule playing 4 of their first 6 games on the road, the Gators get a reprieve of sorts with 4 or their next 5 at home in the O’Connell Center starting this Wednesday when South Carolina comes to town.
The Gators jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead and then leaned on the gas pedal from there pushing the margin to 31-8 with under 8 to go in the first half. From there the only question was whether they would have time to catch a movie before leaving town. The Gators pretty much dominated every stat in the game from start to finish. Their pressure defense was forcing the Bulldogs into quick shots and the Gators manhandled them on the boards frequently holding them to one shot. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 40-17 in the game and the Gators held a 23-8 edge in assists.
With Patric Young holding his own in the paint being very active blocking shots, forcing steals, grabbing rebounds, and chasing loose balls while Scottie Wilbekin was driving the lane and dishing, the perimeter shooters were frequently receiving the ball in rhythm and in position to take good shots. As a result the Gators finished shooting 45% (14-31) on three point shots and 55% (31-56) from the field overall. Defensively, they played one of their best games of the season holding the Bulldogs to only 32.7% (17-52) from the field and a mere 20% (3-13) from beyond the arc.
The Gators were led by Kenny Boynton who had 18 points on 7-11 shooting including 4-8 from three and Erik Murphy who had 18 as well on 6-8 shooting and 4-6 three pointers. Patric Young finished with 13 points on a perfect 6-6 from the field and 6 rebounds with 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks while Scottie Wilbekin scored 13 with 2 rebounds and 9 assists.
The Bulldogs were led by Fred Thomas who had a game high 19 points and seemed to be the only player on the team who played with energy and emotion. He had a number of steals and fast break points and at times was disruptive to the Gators plans. It wasn’t near enough, however, as once again the Gators superior talent, depth, and experience was overwhelming to an opponent.
Next up for the Gators is South Carolina in the O’Connell Center on Wednesday. Tip off is scheduled for 8 pm and will be broadcast live on the SEC network.