Florida Proves to Handle Success

Last season, the Gators might not have responded after a big win like they did on Friday. The emotional overtime win over Arizona on Wednesday gave Florida only one day to prepare for a Rider team with a 1-8 record. It would have been easy to overlook the Broncs, especially after securing a big win at home two days early. Instead, Florida came out focused and recorded a 90-69 win over Rider.

"I was happy with the way we came out to start the game," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said on his post game radio show. "Anytime you come off an emotional game like we did against Arizona in overtime, you've got to come back. We had a one-day prep the next day and then get on a bus and drive to Jacksonville to play.

"You worry about your energy level and focus. I thought our guys, especially our older guys, had good focus."

The game served as a rebound performance for Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. The two combined to shoot 2-for-15 from behind the three-point line against Arizona, but Donovan wasn't disappointed specifically with their shooting struggles. He was upset that the guards didn't realize their struggles and feed the ball into the post.

Ball movement wasn't an issue on Friday. The Gators recorded a season-high 25 assists and only turned the ball over six times.

"There's too much offense on the floor," Donovan said. "We moved it, passed it and shared it. I thought Erving Walker played like a point guard tonight. He passed up a lot of shots early, was letting the game come to him and got a lot of other guys involved. We established Patric Young. We shared it. That's really what it's all about."

Boynton led the Gators against Rider with 26 points, falling two shy of his career high set against Vanderbilt last season. The junior was 9-for-13 from the field and 5-for-9 from behind the three-point line.

"He was balanced, took good shots and made extra passes," Donovan said. "He was a complete player today. I thought he got way too wrapped up in the Arizona game taking threes. You look at him tonight, he'd drive to the basket for an and-one, pull up jumpers in the lane, three-point shots, distributing and assists.

"If a team is going to come out and defend his shooting, he doesn't need to take tough threes. He can do things offensively with some runners or getting to the rim."

The Florida defense allowed just 27 points in the first half, but in the second half, Rider scored 42. Donovan was forced to switch to zone defense because of Florida's struggles with man-to-man.

"We had to because we couldn't stop them," Donovan said. "They were 4-for-4 coming out to start the second half, and we gave up way too high of a percentage. That was one discouraging part. They were shooting 36-38% in the first half and then we lost that intensity before trading baskets."

The Gators now get a week off for exams before returning to action against Texas A&M in Sunrise, Fla., on December 17 at 2:30 p.m.

"This is a mental grind," Donovan said. "It's a tough time of year for any athlete. We play basically two games in 72 hours then these guys go back to practice tomorrow, reading period and final exams before we play next week. We've got to get rejuvenated. We have to use this time to add some things and clean up some things."

Fightin Gators Top Stories