Donovan Unhappy with Second Half Performance

Head coach Billy Donovan used his team's final exhibition game to send a message. The second half struggles needed to stop. He pulled all five of his starters because of a second-straight slow start in the second half. The Gators cruised to an 88-62 victory over Georgetown College, but the result had the head coach less than pleased.

"There was a huge difference in intensity with the way we came out in the second half," Billy Donovan said. "It looked like to me in the second half that we didn't want to play at the level physically that they wanted to play. That's something our older guys have to address."

Florida went to the locker room at halftime with a 44-19 lead. The Gators held Georgetown to 32% shooting from the field and 14.3% for three in the first half. The Florida press created 18 turnovers in the first half, and Georgetown had only two assists when the first half came to an end.

While in the locker room, Donovan warned his team of what was about to happen. Georgetown would make one more spirited effort to get into the game at the start of the second half, and if the Gators could hold them off and extend the lead, the route could be on.

Instead, Florida came out flat.

Georgetown opened the half on 7-2 run, and Donovan had enough. He sent the entire second team to the scorer's table to check in for the starters.

"He had just got done speaking with us in the locker room saying they were going to come out with energy, and they didn't care about the score," senior Chandler Parsons said. "When we're up like that, we can't take our foot off the gas. We've got to keep applying pressure and getting after it in the press. We can't have letups like that."

Florida only outscored Georgetown 44-43 in the second half. The Tigers shot 53.1% from the field and 50% for three in the second half. The Florida press that forced 18 turnovers in the first half managed to force only eight in the second.

"That to me is the reason we aren't a top 10 team," Donovan said. "Top 10 teams don't do those things."

The lack of senior leadership has concerned Donovan since practice opened. He spoke during the week about needing to see seniors, most notably Vernon Macklin, step up and become vocal to pull the team through a tough stretch.

"We suffered the consequences," junior Erving Walker said of the starters being pulled. "They came out with a lot of energy, and we didn't match them. We weren't mentally focused. We played the scoreboard and being up 25 at the half, we just came out slow. It's exhibition, so now we know that we can't do that when the season starts."

The second half struggles don't erase what the Gators did in the first half. They shot 55.2% and 45.5% for three in the first half. The press was a nightmare for Georgetown to break, leading to nine turnovers in the first eleven minutes of the game.

"We've been putting a lot of work on (the press) in practice the last few days," Walker said. "Coach was on me a little bit from the first exhibition game with my energy, so it paid off."

The final exhibition game was supposed to allow Donovan to use more consistent rotations. After Alex Tyus and Macklin played ten and 12 minutes respectively in the first exhibition game, Donovan wanted to give them a chance to get acclimated. The first exhibition game was aimed at letting the freshmen get their nerves out.

Tyus played only 15 minutes Wednesday night, while Macklin saw 21. In only 25 minutes of play in the exhibition season, Tyus scored 22 points and shot 11-of-16 from the field.

"I wanted to play them more because I knew it would be a more competitive game, but (Tyus) picked up some fouls early on and you don't know where the game is going at that point in time. I don't know if Alex ever got in the flow because of the fouls."

Kenny Boynton led the Gators in scoring for the second straight game, scoring 22 points. He went 9-15 from the field and 4-of-9 for three. Boynton is shooting 63.3% from the field in the first two exhibition games, after shooting 37.6% last season as a freshman.

The sample size is small, but Boynton has a better feel for his shot this season.

Freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin was held out due to a neck strain.

The win over Georgetown College completed the exhibition schedule for Florida. The Gators will begin the regular season November 12 when they host UNC-Wilmington at 7 p.m.
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