Gators Crush the Eagles

The Florida Gators came off their holiday break in a big way with a 74-45 win against Winthrop in the Orange Bowl Classic in Miami. Florida used a big first half, propelling them to a 42-point halftime lead.

The Gators shot 55.9 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes, but more importantly, hit an impressive 8-of-13 from behind the arc. They held Winthrop to just 20 percent shooting and didn't allow one 3-point attempt in the first half.

"I was very happy with the way we played especially on the road," head coach Billy Donovan said after the game. "We jumped out to a big lead with the shots that Chandler [Parsons] made."

Parsons led the Gators scoring attack with 17 points in just 20 minutes played. He knocked down 4-of-5 from long range and also grabbed six rebounds. The sophomore had been struggling from outside, making just 2-of-15 in the last four games.

"Tonight, I was fortunate enough to knock it down and my teammates got me the ball," Parsons said. "I don't look at it like I have to go out there and score. I can go out and do the little things."

In addition to his points and rebounds, Parsons also dished out two assists and had two steals. Donovan said after the game that Parsons hasn't been trying to make shots in recent weeks, but instead he's been trying to figure out what's been wrong with his shot.

"When you're focusing on doing things correctly mechanically, it takes a lot of pressure off of the ball going in the basket," Donovan said. "He's focusing more on whether he's shooting the ball correctly now than whether it's going in."

Three of the other Gator starters scored in double figures. Alex Tyus scored 10 points with four rebounds, and Dan Werner and Walter Hodge also scored 10. Nick Calathes scored nine and dished out seven assists in just 26 minutes.

"He played within himself," Donovan said. "He really didn't force anything. Everyone had 7-9 shots and everyone contributed. It was probably a game where we should have scored in the 80s or 90s, but these guys didn't play a lot in the second half."

The freshmen saw a lot of playing time, including a lot of time with all five freshmen on the court at the same time.

"We only scored 21 points in the second half, but it gave me a chance to rest Nick, Chandler, Alex and Dan and gave our freshmen a chance to play," Donovan said.

Eloy Vargas saw his first playing time of the season when he was put in with 2:27 left in the first half. The freshman played at American Heritage in Plantation and got a chance to play in front of his hometown crowd.

"We got him in a little bit in the first half to get his feet wet," Donovan said. "He battled and banged. I didn't really have a high level of expectation for him. I'm just happy that the way the game went we were able to get him in there."

Vargas scored one point and grabbed two rebounds.

Ray Shipman led the freshmen with nine points and four boards. Erving Walker scored five and Kenny Kadji scored three.

The key for the Gators, though, was their defense. They held Winthrop to 32.8 percent shooting for the game and guarded the 3-point line well.

"I think they're starting to understand getting a stop on defense and getting out on the break which is something we do well," Donovan said. "We've had some difficulties guarding the dribble. We did a good job guarding the dribble, we did not let them drive with the basketball and we kept them from getting offensive rebounds."

Once again, Florida also did a good job of sharing the ball. They had 17 assists on 27 made shots.

"We have some size with our better passers that they can see over guys and pass over guys," Donovan said. "With Chandler, Nick and Dan, when they're aggressive, not necessarily scoring, they're able to make plays that some smaller guys can't make. If you're moving the ball well enough it makes it tough for teams to match up and that's what we're trying to do."

Florida now faces a tough turnaround. They head back to Gainesville to face Stetson at the O'Dome on Tuesday at 1 p.m.

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