Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/9/11
Florida finally prevailed against a tough opponent after losing to a pair of high-profile teams earlier this season, and coach Billy Donovan is hoping his team will learn from that victory. The 12th-ranked Gators will try to start using those lessons Friday night against Rider before a lengthy break heading into another potentially difficult matchup next weekend. Florida (6-2) suffered its only two losses this season in road games against top-five foes Ohio State and Syracuse. The Gators returned home from the latest of those defeats Wednesday - last Friday's 72-68 loss to the Orange - to take on an Arizona team that was ranked 16th in the preseason before falling out of the Top 25. Sophomore Patric Young had a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds in a 78-72 overtime win over the Wildcats, but Donovan thought guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker should have given Young the ball even more during their poor shooting performance. Boynton, scoring a team-best 17.8 points per game, and Walker, averaging 14.1, were limited to a combined 23 points while missing 22 of 27 shots. They made two of 15 3-point attempts for a Gators team that was shooting 41.8 percent from beyond the arc in its first seven games. "This is a game where Patric Young should have taken 40 shots in the game. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton need to do a better job of reading what is going on inside the game," Donovan said. "This could be a great film because we did win the game, but they can learn a lot from this game, like what teams may potentially do in the future against us and how to respond and react." The Gators might need that knowledge when they face No. 22 Texas A&M on Dec. 17 in Sunrise, Fla., and their first matchup with the Broncs (1-8) could provide another chance to learn. Rider enters with one of the worst defenses in the nation, yielding 81.4 points per game, and gave up its most points this season during a 95-75 loss at Marist on Sunday. The Red Foxes shot 56.6 percent and made 13 of 20 attempts from 3-point range. Florida attempts 27.5 shots per game from beyond the arc - among the most in the nation - and figures to have some success against the Broncs. After Marist's 3-point barrage, Rider is allowing opponents to shoot 42.3 percent from long distance, putting them in the nation's bottom 10. Broncs leading scorer Daniel Stewart (14.9 ppg) has scored 22 points in two of his last three games, though, and he might get some help Friday with Junior Fortunat now eligible to play. The 6-foot-9 freshman center was forced to miss the first nine games while the NCAA reviewed his eligibility. Even with its new addition, Rider might have a tough time winning at Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Arena, where the Gators are 7-0 all-time. Florida is playing there for the first time since Dec. 4, 2009. Young is a Jacksonville native.
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