Parsons Settling Into New Role

Chandler Parsons has found his role. He won't be the 25-point scorer for the Gators very often, but he will set other players up to be. He will rebound and play defense, while also giving the Gators a benefit of playing the point forward position. However, when he needs to score, his confidence is now back to where it needs to be.

The reminder came Monday night when the Gators closed their out-of-conference schedule with an 84-59 win over Rhode Island. Parsons scored 18 points and had 12 rebounds, going 7-for-12 from the field and 3-for-4 from behind the three-point line. His shot from the outside has been inconsistent all year, but Parsons is finally beginning to feel better about it.

"It felt good," Chandler Parsons said. "I've just been doing the same things I've been doing all along, I just happened to hit shots against Rhode Island. I'm going to continue to play with confidence. It was awesome to hit shots, and hopefully it continues on. I'm just going to continue through conference play."

Despite averaging only 9.9 points per game, Parsons' field goal percentage isn't the issue. He is still shooting 50% from the field, although only 31.3% from behind the three-point line.

The senior believes the reason his points are down is because he isn't taking advantage of easy points at the free throw line.

"Shooting 50% from the free throw line isn't helping," Parsons said. "If the defense gives me more shots, I'll be happy to take 15-20 shots in a game. I'm not going to change how I'm playing. I'm going to shoot with confidence and if it goes in, that's great. I'm just trying to be an all around player."

Parsons can carry the momentum into conference play, as the Gators host Ole Miss Saturday night at 8 p.m. Early in his career, Florida often played soft schedules leading up to SEC play. Parsons admits that it took him a little off guard when he saw the difference in conference play.

"You realize how physical it is in the SEC," Parsons said. "With our five new guys, they'll be more mature with the out of conference schedule this year."

The surprise in conference play shouldn't be as drastic for the freshmen. They were thrown into the fire early in the season by playing the No. 8 toughest schedule in the country. Head coach Billy Donovan said Thursday it wasn't even about the tough schedule as much as it was the different looks and offensive philosophies the Gators have seen.

They have played in tough road environments like Florida State and Xavier, where they snapped Musketeers 30-game home winning streak.

"We've played some really good teams," Parsons said. "Every team we've played has a really good prediction this year. We've been in some battles, and I think that helps us prepare for conference play. They're all going to be wars. We're not going to win by 20-30 points in conference. Every game will be tough. Our schedule this year really helped us out."

The last two wins over Xavier and Rhode Island have given the Gators momentum heading into conference play. The offense has started to click, while the Florida defense has remained tough.

"We've played great," Parsons said. "I think against Rhode Island, we really put it together. We played great on offense and on defense. If we continue to do that and build off it, we have a chance to be really good."

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