Walker Breaks Out

Erving Walker has been waiting all season for a game like Tuesday. Florida head coach Billy Donovan challenged him in the preseason to lead the SEC in assists, but the focus on that hurt his shot and found him struggling to find a role in the offense. Shots weren't falling, and when he did take them, they weren't good shots. Walker changed that with a team-high 23 points in a 79-61 win over UAB.

"It has been a while," Erving Walker said, shaking his head with a shy smile, after being asked the last time he felt that good.

Walker was still a distributor against UAB. He led the Gators with six assists and turned the ball over twice. But it's the long range shot that changed on Tuesday.

The senior came into the game shooting 36% from behind the three-point line this season. He upped that by going 7-for-9 for three while making a layup late in the game to create the 23 points.

"I'm still working at it," Walker said. "It's a work in progress, and I just thank Coach Donovan for sticking with me and working with me."

At times, he looked like the Erving Walker that threw Florida on his back and carried the team to the Elite Eight last season. Meshing with Mike Rosario and Brad Beal this season was expected to be the challenge and trying to make it work had Walker thinking too much at times.

Part of the credit for his game on Tuesday goes to the way UAB head coach Mike Davis elected to play defense. The UAB guards ran under screens that were being set, allowing the Florida guards to get good looks from long range.

Florida went 15-for-27 on the game from behind the three-point line, while Kenny Boynton and Walker combined to go 13-for-19.

"Under our guards on screens? We're making 11 threes a game. It's just insane to go under on our guards," Florida center Patric Young said.

From the first three-pointer that Walker launched, the open shots helped his confidence grow. The confidence continued to grow with every shot he took, and the Florida guards eventually shot UAB out of the game and turned it into a blowout.

Last season, guards would step out and guard Walker, even if he was five feet behind the three-point line. That hasn't been the case in recent games, as Walker's shooting struggles have slowed his offense. On Tuesday, he was letting those shots fly, and they were dropping at record pace, as his seven three-pointers were two more than his career high.

"It does when you getting rolling like that," Walker said about the basket looking big. "You feel like if it's a good shot, anything you throw up there is going to go in. That's how it was tonight."

Teammates spoke about Walker's game like it was only a matter of time. He moved into fourth place on the list of all-time three-pointers at Florida. The track record as a shooter speaks for itself, but his struggles throughout non-conference play were taking a little longer to get over than most expected.

However, the Florida players knew it was coming soon.

"I knew Erving was going to come around," Boynton said. "It was just mental with him. He was just frustrated. I think it's going to get consistent and he's going to continue to have games like this."


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