Gators win first SEC road game

No. 11 Florida and LSU fought through a sloppy first half before the Gators took a nine-point lead at halftime. After that, it was all Florida. Without senior guard Mike Rosario (sprained ankle) and Casey Prather spraining his ankle during the first half, the Gators took control of the second half. Kenny Boynton led Florida with 20 points while Will Yeguete added 10 points and 13 rebounds.

"The first 14-15 minutes of the game, we didn't get settled offensively," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said on his postgame radio show after the Gators' 74-52 win. "Our defense really carried us. We had a nice effort to close out the first half to get up by nine, and we came out in the second half and executed really well. We shot a much higher percentage from the field.

"Being shorthanded on the road in this league is hard. Give our guys a lot of credit for finding a way to win."

The injury news after the game was positive for Florida (12-2/2-0 SEC). Casey Prather landed awkwardly on the floor after elevating near the basket and had to come out of the game immediately. Prather was helped to the locker room and X-rayed. Donovan said that the X-ray came back negative and the expectation from the staff was a high ankle sprain.

"The encouraging part is that it's not broken, which is what I was told at halftime—that they thought he had a break," Donovan said.

Mike Rosario's sprained ankle kept him out of the game, and Donovan said after the game that he is "hopeful" the senior guard can return for Florida's road test at Texas A&M on Thursday.

Florida closed the first half of Saturday's game on a 10-1 run to take the momentum into the locker room. Donovan was happy that his offense started to get in rhythm and get better shots at the end of the first half.

The run to start the second half was even more impressive. Florida's 21-5 run helped it take a 50-25 lead a Yeguete layup with 12:29 left to play. After struggling from behind the three-point line in the first half, Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy each hit two three-pointers during that stretch to spark the offense.

But LSU wasn't done.

The Tigers (9-4/0-2) fought back and cut the lead to 13 points with 9:57 to play before Murphy hit another three-pointer to quiet the crowd and give the Gators some positive momentum.

"I give our guys a lot of credit," Donovan said. "When they cut it to 13-14, we really hung in there to build the lead back to 20. It's typical of LSU. If you look at some of their games – they were down by 21 to Marquette and tied the game, down by 16 against Seton Hall and came back to win the game. They've been in these situations where they're a great comeback team."

Donovan spoke to his team before the game about two key areas—the three-point line and rebounding. The Gators held LSU to 6-for-24 from behind the three-point line on Saturday and outrebounded the Tigers 53-34.

The rebounding was a key factor in the second half to help the Gators get second-chance opportunities.

"Will Yeguete didn't get off to a good start, and he played exceptional," Donovan said. "Patric Young was established and got the ball inside. He could've had a better game scoring-wise if it wasn't for the free throws."

Florida returns to action on Thursday at 7 p.m. against Texas A&M in College Station.

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