Gators Cruise Past Stetson in Opener

The Florida Gators opened the 2009-10 basketball season with a 74-46 win over Stetson before an appreciative crowd of 10,077 at the O'Connell Center Sunday afternoon.

Four players scored in double figures for UF led by junior returnees Chandler Parsons (14 points) and Alex Tyus (12 points), the latter of whom added a game-high 13 rebounds for his sixth career-double. Newcomers Vernon Macklin (13 points) and Kenny Boynton (12 points) also hit for double digits, with the 6-10 Macklin adding eight rebounds and three blocked shots in an impressive regular-season debut.

"I was really pleased with the level of resiliency our guys had with an offensive performance that wasn't great," said head coach Billy Donovan, who remained perfect (14-0) in season openers at UF.

"I was really happy with the way we guarded and the way we rebounded. Overall, I was really pleased with our defensive effort. Obviously we have some things to work at on offense."

Most noteworthy was UF's lack of success from three-point range. The Gators were an abysmal 1-of-13, with their final attempt from beyond the arc by Parsons with 33 seconds left in the game the only one to find the net.

Had Parsons' shot not gone down, UF's amazing school record of 579 straight games with at least one three-pointer might be history.

"I honestly had no idea until I walked in the locker room and Mr. (Jeremy) Foley told me about it," Parsons said. "I did notice it got really loud when it went in. But I'm glad I kept the streak alive."

Stetson was only slightly better (2-of-17) from three-point range as the two squads went a combined 3-for-30 from bonus land. Each team also had 18 turnovers.

Otherwise, the Gators looked pretty solid, hitting on 52.5 percent from the field overall (31-of-59) and 11-of-15 (73.3 percent) from the free throw line.

And, as Donovan noted, they played a strong defensive game. After Stetson, which has now lost 16 straight games to UF in the series, took a quick 5-2 lead on a trey by Brandon Williams with two minutes gone by, the Gators allowed only four more points by the Hatters over the next 15 minutes while pouring in 31 of their own, blocking four shots and creating numerous turnovers that led to easy buckets in transition as they exploded to a 33-9 lead

Florida led 39-17 at the half and never looked back. The Hatters (1-1), who won their season opener over Averett University Friday night, did trim the lead to 17, 43-26, five minutes into the second half, but got no closer as the Gators pulled away for the 28-point win.

"I thought our defense really carried us in the first half," Donovan said.

The Gators easily won the rebound battle 46-29, with Tyus and Macklin, UF's inside starting duo, combining for 25 points and 21 rebounds.

"I think we have a great frontcourt," Macklin said. "We feed off each other. Alex is an energy guy and when you see AT make plays, it makes you want to do something as well."

Stetson's Tyshawn Patterson, who did not start, led all players with 19 points in the game, while starting guard A.J. Smith also reached double figures with 12 points.

Parsons noted UF's balanced attack is something fans should see a lot of this season.

"I definitely think so. We've got lot of guys who can do a lot of different things," he said. "I'm sure some guys some nights will go off and do their thing, and when people are hot, we're going to keep finding them because we're an unselfish team. But overall I think our scoring is going to be pretty balanced."

The Gators, who open the season with a four-game homestand, will next entertain Georgia Southern Wednesday in the O'Dome. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

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