Notebook: Free throws a negative

There's not much left on the list for Billy Donovan to point out as negatives, but free throw shooting might be at the top of it. The Gators went 7-for-16 from the free throw line in a blowout win against South Carolina on Wednesday night. Big men Patric Young and Will Yeguete drug that down with a 3-for-11 performance. It's an area that will need to be improved when Florida plays in close games.

Young is shooting 50% from the free throw line this season and is 5-for-14 in his last three games. His free throw shooting has regressed in every year at Florida, shooting 70.3% as a freshman and 59.3% as a sophomore. His junior year has been the worst, and teams might be starting to pick up on it.

South Carolina made it clear at the beginning of the game that it would foul Young to avoid him from an easy dunk or layup, forcing him to earn his points at the free throw line. Instead, he left plenty of points on the court.

It hasn't been much better for Yeguete, who is shooting 57.4% from the free throw line. He is 2-for-7 in his last three games, including a 1-for-4 performance against South Carolina. This has actually been his best year at the line after shooting 44.4% as a freshman and 35.9% as a sophomore.

The improvement needs to happen before the Gators get into a close game, and Donovan thinks his big men are putting in the work to make that happen.

"Patric Young and Will Yeguete, to both of their credit, both of those guys have put extra time in," Donovan said." This is not a situation where they're not working at it. They have a commitment on their own to work on certain areas that we're not able to work as much on.

"Free throw shooting is one of those things. Patric, the last three or four weeks, has put the extra time in. I know he wants to get better at it, as does Will."

Young has been upset with his free throwing shooting

For Young, it's about his demeanor. It can hurt him on the floor when he plays with too much emotion or not enough energy. It has hurt at the free throw line recently. While Young has spent time working at the free throw line in recent weeks, the results haven't translated to the games yet.

It's a challenge for the coaches to continue keeping him positive and focused on getting back in the gym to continue to work.

"Patric, in the past, has shot his free throws better," Donovan said. "He gets disappointed because he puts time in and doesn't get the results he wants. I always think it creates in yourself, how persistent are you? What kind of resiliency do you have to go back in the gym and put another hour in, take another couple hundred free throws?

"As a coach staff, we're trying to make sure these guys take their free throws. We're trying to make sure these guys are doing it on their own as well."

BOYNTON'S DEFENSE: Scottie Wilbekin has stolen the headlines of the Florida defense this season, but he isn't the lone elite perimeter defender. Before this year, it was Kenny Boynton that was viewed nationally as the lone defensive player.

Despite not getting the headlines, Boynton's defense hasn't trailed off. He's still capable of shutting down an opponent, as he proved on Wednesday night against South Carolina guard Bruce Ellington, holding him to seven points on 2-for-9 shooting from the field.

In his four previous games against the Gators, Ellington was averaging 17.3 points. Boynton held him to single digits against Florida for the first time in his career.

"Kenny has always been a good defender," Donovan said. "Early in his career against Jimmer Fredette, he had to guard him. Different players in this league like Rotnei Clarke or John Jenkins. Kenny, from day one, I always had confidence in him as a defender. Scottie playing more minutes gives us another good defender on the perimeter as well.

"I've got confidence in both guys. As a senior, I don't like Kenny is playing off Scottie. Kenny has played that way most of his career."

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