SUNRISE, Fla. The hometown hero returned to shoot 1 of 4 in the first half, and hardly resembled either the recruit labeled "one and done" or the player tabbed as a future NBA star.
Then the second half started.
Kenny Boynton, a product of Pompano, Fla., scored 11 of his 14 points after halftime to help Florida pull away from Air Force and take a 78-61 victory Saturday in the second game of the Orange Bowl Classic at the BB&T Center.
The Classic victory was Florida's third in the past four years, and happened before a Boynton entourage 20-or-so strong.
"This was my last time in playing in college coming down here, and I had fun," Boynton said. "In the second half, I just tried to let the game come to me."
Boynton hit 3 of 6 second-half shots and the Gators (9-2) got going offensively during the final 20 minutes, when Erik Murphy scored 14 of his game-high 21 points to lead the way.
Frigid long-distance shooting had been plaguing Boynton, who entered having made four of his previous 32 shots from 3-point territory. After Saturday's 3 of 7, he's shooting 29.4 percent from treyland down from last season's 40.7 percent.
Still, Boynton's reputation proceeds him.
"Kenny can miss his first 10 shots," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said, "then hit his next 10."
Nobody knows that better than Gators coach Billy Donovan.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Kenny, and this is not the first time he has gone through something like this," Donovan said. "I've always told him, when he's having a tough time shooting the basketball, the best thing he can do is take good, available shots.
"When gets off good, available shots and makes a couple, then he can start taking a little bit more difficult shot because he's kind of in that rhythm."
When Boynton arrived in Gainesville as a freshman, expectations were that he'd be "one and done." (Meaning: one year of college, then done and headed to the NBA.)
Then he returned for his sophomore season and then for his junior season ... and now, he's a senior.
"I know a lot of people expected it to go that way, but I've been good, honestly," Boynton said. "I talked to Coach Donovan after the season about my decision, staying or going, and I felt it was best for me and my career to come back in all the years I came back."
Donovan insisted the decision to stay or leave was entirely Boynton's to make.
"Kenny Boynton is going to probably leave here the all-time leading scorer and one of the greatest players in the history of our program," Donovan said. "I just hope, because of the expectations of being in the NBA, that he doesn't feel like, I should be there but I'm not there,' and that's a disappointment."
When Boynton does leave Florida, his name will be present on several Gators all-time record lists, including most 3-pointers (he has 282 three-pointers and needs just seven more to pass leader Lee Humphrey) and scoring (he has 1,724 points and 55 more to pass Udonis Haslem for third place on the Gators' career scoring list).
Still in uniform while sitting next Murphy in the postgame interview room, Boynton didn't sound like a player with huge regrets.
"It's been a good career," he said. "Every year I've learned more and progressed every year. I'm in my last year and basically, my goal is to get as far as we can on the NCAA Tournament."
A 6-2, 189-pound senior guard, Boynton might not physically fit the NBA two-guard mold. He even has been allowed to handle the ball more this season, perhaps to try and improve his pro stock as a potential point guard.
"The thing I don't like is when a player is a great, great college player, and maybe is not quite good enough to be a 10-year pro and a starter, that doesn't mean the guy is not a great player or a terrific college player," Donovan said.
"There are certain players whose games translate better in the NBA better than they do in college. Whether Kenny's game translates to the NBA remains to be seen."