Gators Coast in Final Game of 2009

The Florida Gators' last game of 2009 turned out to be their easiest.

Chandler Parsons' game-high 21 points led a quartet of Gator players in double figures and Alex Tyus and freshman Erik Murphy each had double-doubles as UF ran away from an outmanned Presbyterian College squad to post a lopsided 79-38 win before 10,322 at the O'Connell Center Wednesday night.

With the victory, Florida improved to 10-3 on the season, reaching 10 wins before New Year for the fifth straight season and ninth time in the last 11 campaigns under head coach Billy Donovan. The Blue Hose, who have played a brutal early-season schedule, fell to 2-12 overall and suffered their seventh straight loss.

The Gators raced to a 21-6 lead midway through the first half and ended up taking a 43-14 lead into the locker room at the break. They upped the lead to 38, 60-22, by outscoring the Blue Hose 17-8 over the first six minutes-plus of the second half, with Parsons scoring six straight points to cap the run. Presbyterian managed to trim the lead to 30, 68-38, late, only to watch the Gators outscore them 11-0 down the stretch to post the 41-point victory.

Presbyterian's 13 first-half points and 38 total points were the lowest by a UF opponent since the Gators held Southern University to 11 first-half points and 27 total in a November 2006 rout. For UF, which faces a tough non-conference contest at North Carolina State Jan. 3 before opening SEC play at Vanderbilt Jan. 9, the game was a nice breather.

"Just coming out and working on things on our offense and defense was really good for us," said Tyus, who has been UF's top player over the last two weeks and picked up his seventh career double-double with his 16-point, 13-rebound effort in just 20 minutes of action. "As long as we defend, especially the 3-point line, we feel like we can hang with anybody. It feels really good to get these last two wins, and I think everybody is excited and looking forward to what's ahead."

Tyus almost had his double-double at halftime, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the first half. Murphy, meanwhile, did most of his damage in the second half as starting center Vernon Macklin was slowed by illness and played just 14 minutes. With backup center Kenny Kadji sidelined with herniated discs for an undetermined time, the Gators will need Murphy to step up as Macklin's backup and the 6-9 freshman showed he is quite capable, scoring 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds, both season- and career-high marks, as was his 23 minutes on the floor.

Sophomore guard Ray Shipman also did not dress out for the second straight game as he recovers from a knee issue. That left UF with just 10 healthy bodies for the game, and all 10 played. "We got great minutes from Murphy off the bench," Donovan said. "He played very, very well. I thought with a limited bench, our guys played really hard and did a lot of good things. I thought our press in the first half was much more effective. We were able to force some turnovers and get out on the break.

"We had a huge lead at the half and we probably lost a little focus or intensity there, but overall we were able to distribute the minutes pretty evenly among the guys who played. It was a good win for us coming back from a game in which we only had one day of preparation."

The Gators returned to the defensive form that helped carry them to an 8-0 start, holding the Blue Hose to 32.7 percent shooting from the field (16-of-49) that included just 3-of-15 (20 percent) from 3-point range. Forward Jake Troyli, one of five freshman starters for Presbyterian, led the Blue Hose with 14 points.

Freshman guard Kenny Boynton, meanwhile, was the fourth UF player in double figures with 14 points, while point guard Erving Walker led all players with seven assists. The Gators forced 23 turnovers, tying a season-high mark, and UF came up with 11 steals, with Parsons and Dan Werner leading the way with four each.

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