Gators Continue to Start Fast

Coming into Monday's game, Billy Donovan was concerned with his team's energy. Florida recorded a big win over Texas A&M just two days earlier, and with Mississippi Valley State bringing a 1-8 record into Gainesville, the Gators easily could've overlooked the game. Florida opened the game on a 24-4 run and ran away with an 82-54 win.

"The one thing that was encouraging was coming off an emotional game against Texas A&M and you've got one day off—you always worry about coming out a little lethargic or complacent," Billy Donovan said on his post game radio show. "I've got to give our guys credit. Our starters came out there and did a really nice job."

Ten points from Kenny Boynton, including two three-pointers, fueled the hot start along with six points from Patric Young. The Gators came out aiming to feed the ball to Young in the post, after he played just 20 minutes against Texas A&M because of foul trouble. Young rewarded them with the first four points of the game on easy shots close to the basket.

Young ended the game with 12 points and eight rebounds.

"The one thing we wanted to do, at least early, was to find him," Donovan said. "Coming out of Texas A&M, although Patric didn't play a lot of minutes because of foul trouble, there were times when we missed him. Our guys made a conscious effort to get the ball inside to him and find him when he was open (Monday)."

The hot start seemed to ice the game early, allowing Donovan to play around with other lineups. He was able to control the minutes of his players and give them a rest. Every starter except Brad Beal played 30 minutes of less.

That wasn't only to rest the players. It was also designed to get extra minutes for players who don't usually see extended minutes on the court.

"I put some different lineups out there on the court to get Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather more minutes," Donovan said. "Will Yeguete was in foul trouble so he never got in the flow of the game. There were some lineups out there that weren't conducive to those guys, and the lineups got a little stagnant, a little stale."

Florida has also showed consistent improvement from the free throw line. The Gators shot a season high 83.3% (20-24) from the free throw line, making them 43-54 in the last two games. Florida spent its off week for exams practicing on free throws, and the work has paid off since then.

"We're doing pretty good the last two games," Donovan said. "These guys care and realize it's a problem. It's something we have to get better at. I don't know if we're an 83-84% free throw shooting team, but certainly we're not 59%. These last few games have improved. It has been encouraging to see."

INJURY REPORT: Mike Rosario was held out of the game with strained back, while Cody Larson didn't play because of strep throat. The Gators were low on numbers, meaning Donovan wanted to get extra playing time for the bench players.

"We'll find out our team's health in the next 48 hours to see who is available," Donovan said.

The challenge now turns to Florida State. The Gators will welcome to Seminoles on Thursday at 7 p.m. for the next step of the rivalry.

"Obviously it's a lot to get prepared for—a very, very good team, and they've played a tough schedule like we have," Donovan said. "It's a great opportunity to play against a very talented and gifted team that has played in a lot of good venues against quality teams."

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