Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 1/28/12
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Gators junior guard Kenny Boyntonstepped onto the court Saturday afternoon against Mississippi State as theSEC's second-leading scorer. He walked off it nearly pointless in No. 14 Florida's 69-57 win over the 18th-rankedBulldogs. Boynton's shooting totals: 1-for-6 from the floor, 0-for-3 from 3-point rangeand two points 16 below his season average. Afterward, Florida coach Billy Donovan spoke with Boynton to address hisperformance. Did Donovan challenge Boynton's shot selection? Did the coach criticize Boyntonfor not driving to the basket more? Did Donovan tell Boynton the Gators werelucky to win Saturday with his modest contributions? The answer: none of the above. "I told Kenny after the game that I was really proud of him,'' Donovansaid. "I think Kenny would maybe be a guy who would be upset maybe acouple of years ago. I think it was a real valuable lesson.'' The lesson Donovan is talking about is that while Boynton is the Gators'leading scorer and usually provides plenty of points, there will be games likeSaturday. If Boynton plays the way he did in other areas, the Gators will bejust fine. "That just shows how great of a team we can be, because Kenny usuallyscores 19 or 20 points a game,'' freshman Brad Beal said. "He only scoredtwo tonight, but he still did a good job on defense. He stopped Bulldogsguard Dee Bost the best he could and we fed off that. Whether or not he knowsit, he was a big impact in the game." In 29 minutes, Boynton contributed to the Gators' fifth consecutive win inother ways. He had a game-high five assists, didn't commit a turnover andplayed stellar defense on Mississippi State scorers Bost and Brian Bryant. Bostfinished four points below his average with 12. When Bryant scored eight pointsearly in the first half, Boynton moved over to defend the senior guard, helpinglimit Bryant to three points the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Boynton's backcourt mate wasn't exactly lighting it up either.Erving Walker hit 4-of-10 shots, including 2-for-6 from behind the arc, andneeded a long 3-pointer in the final seconds to hit double-figures. Still, likeBoynton, Walker stepped up his game in other ways. Walker added four assists and also did not commit a turnover. It was the firsttime since the season opener against Jackson State that that neither Boyntonnor Walker committed a turnover in the same game. During Florida's five-game SEC winning streak since losing its conferenceopener at Tennessee, Walker (25 assists, six turnovers) and Boynton (14assists, four turnovers) have combined for 39 assists and only 10 turnovers.Thats the kind of ball care Donovan preaches on a regular basis. "I was really, really proud of Walker and Boynton because they could neverreally get it going offensively, and they had decent looks,'' Donovan said. "Butcombined, they had nine assists and zero turnovers. That was really important their shot selection and not wanting to force things. "It's a pretty impressive stat for those two guys." Everyone took care of the basketball Saturday. The Gators committed aseason-low five turnovers and Beal had the only one for the starting lineup. Despite Boynton and Walker combining for just 12 points 18.8 points belowtheir combined season average the Gators owned a comfortable lead for much ofthe second half. An 11-0 run late helped seal Florida's 17th consecutive win atthe O'Connell Center. "People say we are a guard-oriented team, but I think our team iscompletely balanced,'' said center Patric Young, who came off the bench toscore 12. "We don't need Kenny and Erv go for 20, 25 every night. We knowwhat everyone on our team is capable of doing. Whatever you take away,hopefully another guy can key off on that." Beal led the way Saturday with a team-high 19 points, while forward Erik Murphychipped in 14. What was the lesson Walker took from Boynton's off night in a Gators' victory? "That we're not a one-man team,'' Walker said. "He's a great scorerand some nights you have nights like that. He still played a good game. He wasactive on defense and he had five assists. He's a great player." That is what Donovan tried to remind Boynton of after the game.
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