Defense Improved Over Last Two Games

The Gators heard some of the questions. As they found their shooting touch weeks ago, the defense that won them games before started to slip. The players heard the criticism and they responded by holding back-to-back opponents to less than 45 points for the first time since 1947.

"We had been reading stuff with people saying our defense had been slipping," sophomore guard Kenny Boynton said. "That's been a focus."

The Gators held Auburn to 37.5% from the field and forced 13 turnovers last Thursday. Florida then clamped the Arkansas offense at 29.4% from the field.

The Razorbacks are seventh in the SEC in scoring average, while Auburn comes in last. The combination of teams who struggle on offense and a renewed energy on the defensive end has allowed Florida to win the past two games.

"I felt we played good defense in the Auburn game, but I also feel like Auburn is a team that's challenged on the offensive side of the floor," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "They've got a couple guys that can score, but they're limited on offense.

"Sometimes it can look like you played great defense, but you watch the film and the team just missed open shots. That wasn't the case against Auburn."

NOT MUCH PRESS: Donovan has used the press to help his defense in past years, and with plenty of depth this season, many expected the Gators to press every opponent. However, the Gators have backed out of it because of matchups.

"We're going to press some more," Donovan said. "We'll throw it in at different points. We threw it in some against Auburn and then at spots against Arkansas. In those games, there are certain teams that thrive in open floor situations. Auburn has trouble scoring in half court, so if you press, you can create scoring opportunities by transition baskets."

SEC STRENGTH: Donovan isn't sure exactly how the SEC stacks up. It's hard for coaches to make general comments on the league, especially when the Gators have had a short turnaround period for most games this season.

"I haven't got a chance to zero in on everybody. I think from the teams we've played, Tennessee has an opportunity to (be a great team), but they've gone through stuff with Bruce that has created easiness and continuity. People feel like the Big East is the toughest conference in the country, but Tennessee beat Villanova and Pittsburgh, and they played Connecticut toe-to-toe.

"Georgia can be a great team. They have that ability."

Donovan admitted he hasn't seen Kentucky or Vanderbilt play, but that he expects them to be in that same category.

MURPHY RECOVERS: Erik Murphy continues to recover from a foot injury, but he has played in the last two games against Auburn and Arkansas. He didn't look great in either game, but it's a slow process of getting back to where he was before the injury.

"I think he's 100% physically," Donovan said. "I think Erik is rusty with his foot. He looks a step slow to me, and he's behind in plays. We definitely need him because he's a guy who can stretch the defense and shoot it. We're going to stick him in the game against Georgia and give him an opportunity."

The only way to knock the rust off is to continue putting Murphy in the game. The sophomore has improved over the course of the games that he plays in, which makes the Florida head coach expect him back to normal soon.

"I thought as the game went on and he got in there, it appeared that he played better later in the game than he did early in it," Donovan said. "It's probably something that is a level of rust."


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