Despite shooting 38 percent and getting significant minutes from Patric Young and Will Yeguete, the Gators defeated FSU 55-51 Sunday night in Tallahassee. It was Florida's first win in Tally since 2002.
The Gators (No. 14, 5-1) struggled again in the second half, allowing the Noles to overcome UF's nine-point half time lead and making it a one-point game with 1:37 left. But, clutch free throw shooting by Kenny Boynton and four points from Erik Murphy sealed it for UF.
Murphy (10 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes), Young and Yeguete (5 rebounds and 2 points in 20+ minutes each) got significant time as injuries and ineffectiveness limited Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin. Murphy's play continues to progress as his putback of a Boynton airball gave UF the final four-point cushion. Neither underclass big man was impressive for the entire game, but each made significant contributions. In the second half when FSU made their run, it seemed as if Young was the only guy on the floor with any energy.
The Gators' shooting and 17 turnovers could have sunk the team. Instead, they kept finding ways to crash the glass and shutout FSU possessions. Against a team that needs garbage plays to score, the Gators outrebounded FSU 34-38 and only allowed the Noles 11 foul shots, compared to 25 for the Gators.
Chandler Parsons (5 points on 2-6 shooting) needs to get the ball more, especially when Boynton and Erving Walker were combined 6-20 from the field. In addition, Walker keeps making crushing mistakes with the ball in his hands.
Despite the clear problems the Gators have, the play of the young bigs and a very good road win against a tough opponent will mean something. As the Gators roll towards Christmas and a tough non-conference schedule that includes several road games, Sunday's win will hopefully be a sign of things to come.
Florida's next game is Wednesday night against UCF at the new Amway Arena in Orlando.