Gators Rout the Razorbacks

Florida found the answer it needed on Saturday night. After sneaking by lowly Auburn for a win on Thursday, the Gators (15-4, 4-1 SEC) needed to regain momentum for the season. They didn't waste much time finding it. Florida dominated from the opening tip in a 75-43 rout of Arkansas (12-6, 2-3).

"The one thing that was good is that we almost outscored ourselves in the first half against Arkansas (39 points) than we did for the game against Auburn (45 points)," Florida head coach Billy Donovan joked. "We came back focused on one day preparation and wanted to come out and play well."

The win gave the Gators sole possession of first place in the SEC East as South Carolina lost to Kentucky earlier in the day. Florida and Alabama are tied for first in the SEC at 4-1.

Florida's game plan early in the game wasn't hard to figure out. The Gators wanted to establish center Vernon Macklin's scoring ability down low, and once they did, the outside shots would open. After the 5-for-26 performance from behind the three-point line at Auburn on Thursday, open shots from the outside were needed to boost the confidence.

After South Carolina center Sam Muldrow dominated with blocked shots last Saturday, Arkansas center Delvon Johnson came to town with the conference lead in blocked shots with 63 on the season. Muldrow's dominated caused the Gators to take off balance shots against the Gamecocks. Instead of falling away from the basket, the Florida big men went right at Johnson and had success.

Macklin held up his end if the bargain by scoring Florida's first eight points of the game, going 4-for-4 from the field in the first four minutes of the game.

"Coach Donovan told us to get the ball inside, and we wanted to start the game inside-out," Macklin said. "The boys found me. I had to deliver for those guys and made good plays."

Florida made it clear to the Razorbacks that they could score in the paint early in the game. Once Arkansas started to crowd the paint on defense, Kenny Boynton hit three straight three-pointers. Those shots opened up the game, with the final one pushing Florida's lead to 39-16 with 1:27 left in the first half.

After leading 12-8 with 13 minutes remaining in the first half, the Gators went to the half on a 27-9 run.

"It shows us what type of team and upside this team has," Boynton said. "We have to keep being focused and come out executing our game plan. We finished well and shot it well. We kept our turnovers down. If we have more games like that, the same result will come."

While the Florida offense took off, Arkansas' sputtered. The Razorbacks shot 24% from the field in the first half, hitting only six field goals.

Donovan said on Friday that he views Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarke as one of the best shooters in college basketball, and the Florida defense played him with that respect. Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin blanketed Clarke all game and wouldn't let him get off an uncontested shot. When Boynton was on Clarke, he didn't even get a shot off.

"I'm very proud," Boynton said. "That was my focus coming into this game- trying to shut him down. I know what kind of player he is. I wanted to do my best to disrupt anything he had going on."

Clarke came into the game as Arkansas' leading scorer at 13 points a game. He took one shot in the first half, and it was an air ball. His second shot came with 14:41 left in the second half, and the result was the same. The junior guard didn't hit rim in his first two shots. He ended the game 0-for-3 from the field with two air balls, two rebounds, one steal and zero points.

Clarke couldn't get open, but the Arkansas ball movement was also nonexistent. They had only five assists on the night, with one coming in the first half.

Parsons wasn't a factor in the Florida scoring, but he made his presence felt in other ways. Parsons had five points, five assists and a career-high 15 rebounds.

Players said that Donovan had the team stay in a hotel on Friday night to maintain focus with a quick turnaround after the Thursday night game against Auburn.

The Gators will head to Athens this week and take on Georgia Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

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