Young Lone Bright Spot In Saturday's Loss

There weren't many bright spots in Florida's 72-69 home loss to South Carolina on Saturday. The team lacked energy from the opening tip, but one player brought what they needed off the bench. He may only be a freshman, but the rest of the team matches Patric Young's energy when the center is on the court.

Young has been high energy on the defensive end since he came to campus in the summer. Head coach Billy Donovan was forced to teach Young early in his time on campus that he needed to stay on his feet. Every shot that went up in the paint during practice, the freshman tried to block it.

He had to slow down.

For the first month and a half of the season, Patric Young was still anxious on the court. He forced shots and was out of position on defense because he was trying too hard to make plays.

The Gators needed to harness his energy for good. They may have found out how. It came in Young maturing and listening more to his coaches.

"I've been really proud of Patric," Donovan said. "He's grown and matured a lot since (holiday) break and gotten better. If he can come in with that energy, fire and aggressiveness, it really does help our team."

Young's performance on Saturday brought the energy off the bench on defense, but he chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds, with three coming on the offensive glass. Off his three offense rebounds, Young finished one with a dunk and got fouled while shooting after the other. Young provided a rarity for any Florida player by actually making both of his free throws.

Young also featured a left-handed hook shot that banked in with ease. His offensive game has looked better during each game.

"He played huge," Parsons said after the South Carolina loss. "It's not even because he scored. He just played with such energy- blocking shots and making big step-ups. That's how we need him to play every game because he can provide a lot of help when he plays like that."

Young has seen his minutes increase as the Gators play more close games. Vernon Macklin is shooting 41% from the free throw line, so Donovan has pulled him out late during close games. Young is shooting 78% from the free throw line and gives the Gators a big man who they trust shooting from the stripe.

It's a plus for Florida to have a big man on the floor who can shoot free throws after Macklin, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus each missed clutch free throws Saturday.

"We've had to take Vernon out of the game at the end because Patric is a good free throw shooter," Donovan said. "He's proven that in practice. Tyus, Parsons and Macklin- when they're on the floor, they're going to get fouled."

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