Possibly the Florida Gators had felt like they lost the SEC Championship after their 61-57 loss at Kentucky a week ago. It was a winnable game where they outplayed the Wildcats for most of the game. Then, with a 57-51 lead, Florida went ice cold from the field, going 0-of-11 with five turnovers to end the game in losing 61-57.
Florida’s Erick Murphy scored 27 points and added 12 boards in the Gators’ 80-58 undressing of LSU in Friday afternoon’s SEC quarterfinal. (Courtesy Univ. of Florida Athletics)
After a week to prepare for the SEC Tournament, Billy Donovan’s Gators were downright impressive in pummeling LSU 80-58 Friday afternoon. Practice is where Florida had gotten well. With a week to prepare, it would take a Top 10 team to take down Donovan’s Gators.
“Practice was tough,” said Erik Murphy who scored 27 points and 12 rebounds with his versatility on display, “Coach was focused on certain things. He made it hard on us in practice to see how we would respond. I think we did a good job in practice and a good job today responding.”
Forward Patric Young agreed that the tough slate of practices sharpened the Gators and made them focus on the task at hand plus realize the potential of this team now that March is in full swing.
“It was a really difficult practice , but I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Young, “Coach really challenged us because he wants us to be great and we challenged each other.”
Murphy’s second double-double in as many games was phenomenal. In scoring 27 points, he had his season high and noted that he had put extra focus on rebounding which sometimes is a problem for Florida.
He paced the Gators to the lead right out of the locker room. Murphy was 11-of-15 from the floor, making five triples in 25 minutes and when he made his first three to put UF ahead 8-5, his expression heading to the defensive end of the floor was one of excitement as he let out a scream of elation.
“Shots were falling today,” illustrated Murphy, “I felt good. Whether the ball goes into the basket is not in your control. Coach was saying give good reps this week. Every rep is a good rep whether in a game or practice. The shots fell today.”
Florida was 11-of-20 from behind the arc as that type of shooting output coinciding with the tenacious defense and unselfish play usually makes them impossible to beat.
Donovan seemed relaxed on the bench as Florida went on a 10-0 run to go ahead 28-17 as Scottie Wilbekin scored five points in that run. The relaxed tendancies of the free-flowing Gators manifested itself through the second half as they shot 50.9% for the game and built a lead by as many as 33 at 69-36 midway through the second stanza.
“Give our guys credit, they came out focused and ready to play,” noted Donovan, “We moved and passed the basketball and I think we had pretty good offensive flow. Erik certainly had a good game inside and out and Patric did a very good job defensively and posting up and giving us a presence up front.”
- Ken Cross
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