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Kenny Boynton eclipsed 2,000 career points in Friday's win over Northwestern State.

Saturday March 23, 2013Gators Notebook: Boynton Joins 2,000-Point Club, Prather's Dunk, a Donovan-Smith Reunion

Kenny Boynton eclipsed 2,000 career points in Friday's win over Northwestern State.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

AUSTIN, Texas -- The Gators dominated the second half of Friday night's 79-47 victory over Northwestern State by clamping down defensively, holding the nation's top-scoring team 34 points below its average.

But Florida's most prolific offensive weapon made history first. Senior guard Kenny Boynton scored Florida's first points of the second half to become only the second player in school history to join the 2,000-point club.

Boynton finished with 11 points and now has 2,006 career points entering Florida's matchup with Minnesota here Sunday for a berth in the Sweet 16.

"It's a great accomplishment, but we're in a struggle in the first half,'' said Boynton. "Luckily we still got the win with it."

Boynton joined former UF standout Ronnie Williams as the only players in school history with more than 2,000 points. Williams, UF's all-time leading scorer, finished with 2,090 career points during his career from 1981-84.

HIGHLIGHT DUNK

The Gators had the game well in hand by the time the play happened, but if you want a "SportsCenter" highlight from Florida's win, it was Casey Prather's alley-oop dunk on a pass from Scottie Wilbekin.

The play started with a blocked shot by Patric Young and rebound by Will Yeguete. As Wilbekin got the ball, he raced up court and saw Prather streaking toward the basket down the right wing. As Wilbekin crossed midcourt, he threw a pass to Prather.

Prather elevated, caught the pass below his shoulders, and then continued his climb to the rim with a powerful dunk. The play drew a big applause and plenty of oohs from the Erwin Center crowd.

"I saw him running the whole time and I was hoping he would run up for it,'' Wilbekin said. "I knew he was going to catch it."

Prather, no stranger to highlight-worthy dunks, gave Florida a 63-42 lead with 8:27 remaining in the game with his latest one.

"I was kind of surprised he threw it, but then again, it was Scottie,'' Prather said. "He makes that pass to me in practice."

FAMILIAR FOE

In Billy Donovan's second season at Florida, Tubby Smith took over at Kentucky.

For the next 10 seasons Donovan and Smith went head-to-head regularly as two of the SEC's premiere coaches. As Donovan won his second consecutive national title in 2007, Smith left Kentucky and is now in his sixth season at Minnesota.

The two will meet again on Sunday when the Gators and Gophers face off for a Sweet 16 berth. Minnesota advanced late Friday with a victory over UCLA.

"I'm pretty familiar with Billy Donovan, we played quite a few games against each other when I was at Kentucky,'' Smith said. "They have some people that can do some things. But we really haven't done much [scouting of them]. I haven't watched them play."

Donovan won six in a row over Smith's Kentucky teams at the end of their decade-long SEC rivalry.

NOT-SO-SOFT TOUCH

The Gators work on free-throw shooting relentlessly in practice. In four postseason games, that work hasn't led to as many shots dropping through the net as they would like.

Florida made 14 of 23 from the foul line on Friday and is now shooting 45 of 80 (56.2 percent) in three SEC Tournament games plus the victory over Northwestern State.

Young, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds Friday, made only 4 of 10 free throws. He is 10 of 27 (37 percent) in the postseason, which is 11 points below his season average of 48.8 percent (63 of 129).

IN THE HUNT

Florida is one of the teams in the NCAA Tournament that pundits expect to advance deep. Of course, so was Georgetown, which was upset by Florida Gulf Coast University on Friday night in the biggest upset during the tournament's first two rounds.

New York Times blogger Nate Silver, who has received a lot of attention in recent years for his uncanny ability to accurately predict the outcome of political races and other events using elaborate statistical analytics in his popular FiveThirtyEight blog, now has the Gators as the second favorite to win the national title.

In his latest calculations following the first two rounds, Louisville (25.3 percent), Florida (17.5 percent), Indiana (15.5), Ohio State (7.2) and Duke (5.1) are Silver's five most likely teams to hoist the national championship trophy April 8 in Atlanta.

NOTES AND NUGGETS

Vernon Maxwell scored 2,450 points at UF from 1985-88, but two of his seasons’ statistics were wiped out due to NCAA violations. His adjusted stats reflect 1,046 points ... Donovan improved to 29-10 in 13 trips to the NCAA Tournament at Florida ... The Gators are now 7-0 after a loss; Florida was coming off a loss to Ole Miss on Sunday in the SEC Tournament championship ... The Gators ended Friday's win on a 27-5 run.

 

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