Saturday December 29, 2012Strong Second Half Propels Gators to Win over Air Force at Orange Bowl Classic
Another tough half shooting the basketball got Kenny Boynton thinking about those one-on-one film sessions he'd had with his coach lately.
The ones where Billy Donovan showed the senior guard that the shots he was taking the last few games weren't very good ones -- and pointed out that those particular shots might have had a lot to do with why they weren't going in.
So out Boynton went in the second half of Saturday's Orange Bowl Classic.
"I just tried to take open ones," he said.
The first two treys Boynton launched out of intermission were not only open but true through the net and helped spark 14th-ranked Florida to a hot-shooting second half Saturday in a 78-61 victory over Air Force before 12,779 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Boynton, mired in a 4-for-32 slump from the arc his previous five games, went 3-for-7 from long-distance in his first game this season playing mostly at the two-guard spot after working almost exclusively from the point position through the first 10 games. He finished with 14 points in what figured to be a final South Florida appearance near his hometown of Pompano Beach.
"It was good to see the ball go in," Donovan said of Boynton's performance. "This is not the first time he's gone through something like this. I've always told him when he's having a tough time shooting, the biggest thing he can do is take good, available shots. When he makes a couple, then he can start taking a little more difficult shots, because he's in that rhythm."
Whether senior forward Erik Murphy was working off the same theory, no one asked. But after scoring just 14 points the previous two games, Murphy tallied game highs of 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots for a UF (9-2) team that had dropped two of its previous three games coming in, including a poor performance in a loss to Kansas State in Kansas City, Mo., last Saturday.
Murphy, who made eight of his 10 shots from the floor, fueled a Gators offense that shot nearly 54 percent for the game, but blistered the nets for 69.6 percent after halftime (16-for-23) in scoring 45 points. They also used their bigger, longer bodies to outwork the Falcons (8-3) by 35-26 on the glass.
"Obviously, size-wise we're small no matter who we play," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "We knew that would be one of our hard match-ups tonight."
The Falcons did a nice job negating UF's size by bombing 9-for-20 from the 3-point line, including six of 13 before halftime to trail just 33-31 at the break.
The Florida lead was only three, at 37-34, with just over 16 minutes to go when Boynton found himself open for a trey and nailed it. Ninety seconds later, after turnovers by each team, Boynton again was free outside arc and again swished a 3-pointer.
His back-to-back triples gave the Gators breathing room, up 43-34, they were able to slowly pad as the game wore on and the Falcons wore down.
Donovan was much happier with the way his team finished the game as opposed to how the Gators started it.
"We've got to get better at coming into a game offensively and predetermining how we want to play as individuals, instead of letting the game dictate how we should play," he said. "I think our guys have got to get over when their shot is not falling and/or the game is not going the way they want."
UF did a better job defensively in the second half, but of the Falcons' 19 field goals for the game nearly half (9) were 3-pointers. Their 61 points were the fourth-most scored against the Gators this season.
"We knew coming in they were a really good shooting team and could shoot 3s from all five spots," Murphy said. "We did a better job of that in the second half."