Posted 2 years ago
By Dave Riggert
Young could have doused him at halftime.
Scottie Wilbekin had 13 points and 10 assists, his first career double-double, and the 10th-ranked Gators dominated every aspect of Saturday’s 83-52 victory over No. 17 Missouri.
”A 30-point victory against one of the best teams in the SEC, it was just us a great game for us,” Young said. ”Nobody expected that. I’m sure a lot of people thought they were going to come in here and upset us. I know they thought they were going to upset us. We really wanted it.”
Donovan became the third coach in Southeastern Conference history to reach 400 wins at the same school, joining Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp and LSU’s Dale Brown.
No surprise, the dean of SEC coaches credited players past and present.
”It’s always special when you have friends and family and your players and your crowd,” Donovan said. ”But like I said before, all those individual things as it relates to coaching, it’s much, much more a reflection on the players I’ve had a chance to coach here. That’s really what it’s about. I don’t look at them as my wins. … I never, ever look at those things as being something I did. It’s always a ‘we’ thing. There’s a lot of people involved.”
Just about everyone on Florida’s bench chipped in for Donovan’s 400th.
Erik Murphy scored 15 points. Kenny Boynton added 14. Young finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Will Yeguete had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and six boards, and Mike Rosario had nine points.
The Gators (14-2, 4-0 SEC), which won their sixth consecutive game, clearly made another statement about being the class of the league.
And they’re not even fully healthy.
Yeguete (knee tendinitis), Rosario (sprained ankle), Wilbekin (broken finger) and Murphy (broken rib) all played through injuries. Backup forward Casey Prather missed his second straight game with a high-ankle sprain.
Nonetheless, Florida has won all four SEC games by at least 20 points.
”We’ve got 18 diamonds to pick up,” Young said, referring the league’s 18-game schedule. ”We’ve gotten four. We’re just moving on to the next one. We’re not making a statement. We’re just going to prepare for the next game. We’re going to get ready, whoever it is we’re going to match up, and we’re going to do our job.”
The Gators have looked good at home, on the road and even on a short turnaround.
They won at Texas A&M about 40 hours before taking the floor Saturday.
And they showed no signs of being flat or fatigued.
”We’ve got potential to be really good, but we’ve got to keep working,” said Boynton, who helped turn Missouri’s 21 turnovers into 34 points.
Maybe the most impressive aspect of Florida’s latest lopsided victory was Wilbekin’s defense. The junior guard shut down Missouri’s Phil Pressey. He pretty much did the same to Texas A&M’s Elston Turner on Thursday night.
”Scottie’s playing amazing right now,” Young said.
Pressey finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting. He had 10 turnovers and six assists.
”I thought he tried to take the game on,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. ”In an environment and a game like this, you’ve really got to trust your teammates. I’m sure Phil will want to just get to the next one.”
Jabari Brown led the Tigers (13-4, 2-2) with 16 points, and Keion Bell added 14 before leaving the game with a sprained ankle.
Missouri played without senior forward Laurence Bowers (knee) for the third consecutive game. Regardless, few could have seen such a beatdown coming in Gainesville.
The Gators jumped all over Missouri from the opening tip, scoring the first nine points and pulling out to a 15-2 lead.
”As a team, we underestimated the amount of pressure that their full-court press would put on us,” Bell said.
Florida made 13 of its first 18 shots. Things really started getting out of hand for the Tigers when Boynton got going midway through the first half. He hit a 3 and then made two layups – both off turnovers by Pressey – that put the Gators ahead 29-12.
”They beat us in every facet of the game: loose balls, rebounding, execution on both ends,” Haith said. ”They just played very, very well, and we didn’t play like we need to play to come in here and beat a team the caliber of Florida.”
Florida made it a 20-point game early in the second half and then turned it into a laugher with dunk after dunk. Murphy, Young and Yeguete all had slams, giving the sellout crowd at the O’Connell Center everything it wanted from the home team – including Donovan’s 400th win.
”It means a lot for us to make Coach happy,” Boynton said. ”We played the way he wanted us to play tonight. It definitely means a lot, and we definitely want to keep them coming.”
— Associated Press —