Florida Clobbers Catholic in Exhibition

If Thursday night was any indication, scoring points shouldn't be a problem for the Gators this season. The onslaught of three-pointers started early and didn't stop, as the Gators knocked down 14 of them in the first half. Florida hit 20 of them and ran away with a 114-57 win in an exhibition game over Catholic University.

"We actually didn't see that coming," junior guard Mike Rosario said. "We have a good team that hasn't defined itself yet and we've still got a lot of things to work on, but wow. Coming out of today I know that when we're on, we're going to shoot the ball very well.

"I couldn't believe how many threes were going in back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. We have a lot of good shooters, but wow, back-to-back like that? I was just amazed at how many we hit in the first half."

Before Brad Beal missed a three-pointer with three seconds to go in the first half, the Gators had hit eight three points in a row. Five different players hit at least one three-pointer in that streak of eight in a row.

"I've been fortunate enough as a player, assistant and now as a head coach at Catholic to have been part of 10-12 Division 1 games, and that was a fury like no other that I've seen," Catholic head coach Steve Howes said. "That was pretty lights out."

There wasn't a whole lot that went wrong for Florida in the first half. The Gators took a 70-29 advantage to the locker room after shooting 59.5% from the field and 58.3% from behind the three-point line. Florida turned the ball over just four times in the first half while forcing 15 Catholic turnovers.

The Gators scored 37 points off forced turnovers. Florida mixed in some press in the game and forced 23 turnovers in the game.

"We've been getting better at it," point guard Erving Walker said about the press. "We've been putting a lot of time and effort into it. That's going to be one of our main calling cards, being that we aren't a grind-it-out team. We've got to get transition points and get out and run."

The guard depth was an addition that Walker and Kenny Boynton haven't had in their years together. Sophomore Scottie Wilbekin was held out of the game with a broken finger, but there was still plenty of depth to help Boynton and Walker get rests when they needed to.

It also helped stretch the floor when the Gators played a three-guard lineup, creating better shots for the backcourt players. Freshman Brad Beal poured in 20 points while recording five assists and no turnovers. Rosario added 18 points and six assists.

"As you can see, those guys can shoot, score and play," Walker said. "It just makes it easier for me and Kenny. We've embraced each other because we're on the same team. We just want to make our jobs easier for everyone."

At halftime, head coach Billy Donovan challenged his team to work the ball inside. He later said that he couldn't remember one bad three-point shot the Gators took in the first half, but he wanted to focus on the interior offense for future games.

Florida didn't waste much time.

Four of the first seven points came in the paint, as the Gators could do whatever they wanted on offense. Power forward Erik Murphy added 17 points, along with three three-pointers, while showing a creative offensive game around the basket.

The challenge for this Florida team will be on the glass. The Gators outrebounded Catholic 36-31, but that didn't change in Florida's favor until late.

"I still feel like the biggest challenge for our team is the rebounding," Donovan said. "We've got to do a better job in that area. Their frontcourt players lacked some athleticism, but they were physical."

After coming off the bench last season for Catholic, sophomore guard Billy Donovan started on Thursday. He led the Cardinals with 13 points while shooting 3-for-7 from the field and making six free throws.

Donovan led the Cardinals out of the tunnel for pre-game warm-ups in the same arena where he grew up cheering for his dad's Florida teams.

As Donovan checked out of the game, he got a standing ovation from the remaining crowd in attendance.

"That was really special," the younger Donovan said. "I pretty much grew up here and (Florida) has some of the best fans I have ever seen."

The Gators start the regular season November 11 when they host Jackson State at 7 p.m.

Fightin Gators Top Stories