Men's Basketball Headline
GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Like the migraine that knocked him out of practice two days earlier, Florida senior forward Erik Murphy was a throbbing headache Wednesday night for visiting Wisconsin.
Murphy hit all 10 of his field-goal attempts, including a pair of 3-point shots, on his way to a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds to lead the 10th-ranked Gators on a blistering offensive assault and 74-56 pounding of the 22nd-ranked Badgers before 9,614 at the O’Connell Center.
“I should get migraines more often,” Murphy said.
Maybe he should give them to his teammates.
Maybe he did.
In dominating one of the Big Ten Conference powers basically wire-to-wire, UF (2-0) scored the game’s first nine points, shot an other-worldly 75 percent from the floor in the first half, and matched their offensive prowess on the opposite end of the floor by holding the Badgers (1-1) to just 35.6 percent for the game.
Senior guard Mike Rosario scored 15 points and had four assists. Senior guard Kenny Boynton, forced to play the point while Scottie Wilbekin serves his indefinite suspension, did not shoot the ball particularly well but still scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished four assists.
Junior forward Will Yeguete had nine points and eight rebounds, with junior center Patric Young tallying eight points and seven rebounds.
That’s all five starters accounted for -- and for good reason. Each played at least 29 minutes, with the backcourt of Rosario and Boynton checking at 39 and 37, respectively.
“I told those guys they had no choice," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "They had to fight through it."
That battle included fighting through mental and physical fatigue, the combination of which reared itself in 20 turnovers.
The fact the Gators were still able to blow out a physical and elite opponent like Wisconsin -- winner of at least 20 games in nine of Coach Bo Ryan’s 11 seasons, including 26 last year en route to the Sweet 16 -- is a testament to the rest of the game they played.
“I thought some of the things we did gave them problems,” Ryan said. “Trouble was, when they had open looks they didn’t miss.”
That’s no exaggeration.
When Boynton bombed a 3-point shot from the top of the key -- and was fouled on the play -- with 3:01 to go in the first half, the Gators were at 81.8 percent.
“Murph was hot. Mike was hot. Everything was going good for us,” Yeguete said of Murphy and Rosario, who combined to go 12-for-15 for 27 points in the first half. “They couldn’t stop what we were doing, so we just kept doing it.”
It was a lot of everything.
Donovan did not want to be drawn into Wisconsin’s methodical, grind-it-out style of play, so the plan was to show the Badgers an array of sets and defenses.
“I thought this was a game we needed to play chaotically, with great energy, as fast as we could ... press, trap and run around,” Donovan said. “I give our guys a lot of credit. Without a lot of subs, they battled through.”
UF’s four freshmen backups combined for just 30 of the 200 minutes, with Michael Frazier the only one to score. He finished with eight points on 3-for-3 shooting, hitting both his 3-pointers. Pretty good, right?
Just not Murphy good.
The 6-foot-10 senior from South Kingstown, R.I., used the ESPN2 audience to show off a new-found arsenal of low-post moves when everybody in the house figured Murphy was still just a big 3-point shooter. Instead, eight of his 10 field goals were inside 10 feet, as Murphy took advantage of size mismatches in the post.
“That was something I tried to work on during the offseason with the coaches,” he said. “I had some looks down low this game ... and they fell.”
Just about everything did.
For Murphy, it was quite a contrast from 48 hours later after he left UF’s practice, complaining of a wicked headache and blurred vision.
On Wednesday, the Badgers probably could not believe what they were seeing.
“We were just hitting shots. I don’t know what else to say, really,” Murphy said. “We were getting looks and making them. That’s really it.”