Found March 23, 2012 on
Fox Sports Florida:
Marquette Golden Eagles
Alabama Crimson Tide
Norfolk State Spartans
PHOENIX Erik Murphy was 0-for-5 shooting in the first half and looked timid after missing a pair of open 3-pointers early.
Florida coach Billy Donovan, sensing Murphy's drop in confidence, lit into him at the break. Not the way you might expect.
"I want you to shoot every time you're open," Donovan told Murphy. "And if I see you not shooting the ball, I'm taking you out of the game."
Murphy responded in the second half, finishing with a modest seven points, including a 3-pointer that stretched Florida's lead to 43-34 their biggest lead of the game at that point with 15:15 left.
But more important in Florida's 68-58 win over Marquette was the way Murphy played in other areas to impact the game. While the Gators rely on Murphy's outside shooting to create space inside, they have equally counted on his defensive presence of late.
Murphy has risen to the challenge, including the tough assignment on Thursday night of often guarding Marquette's Jae Crowder. Crowder, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound bruiser who was named Big East Conference Player of the Year, was a primary focus of Florida's defense.
The Gators wanted to prevent Marquette's leading scorer, guard Darius Johnson-Odom, and Crowder from taking over the game. With an array of talented guards to defend the perimeter, Donovan had several options to guard Johnson-Odom.
As for Crowder, he turned to the 6-10, 230-pound Murphy to help Patric Young stay out of trouble.
While Murphy had an off night shooting he finished 3 of 13 and 1 of 8 beyond the arc the junior forward grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and blocked three shots.
He made the kind of difference the Gators needed against a physical Marquette team. Crawford, averaging 17.6 points and 8.4 rebounds, was held to 15 points and seven rebounds. He was 5-for-15 shooting and had only two offensive rebounds.
"I just tried to execute our game plan with Crowder in there and their other bigs," Murphy said. "I tried to take some stuff away. If the shots aren't falling, you've got to find other ways to affect the game."
Murphy's performance continued a recent trend of him defending the opponent's primary low-post threat. He went head-to-head with Kentucky's Terrence Jones twice in one week. He battled Alabama's JaMychal Green in the SEC Tournament.
In the Gators' first-round win over Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, Murphy was often pitted against Cavaliers forward Mike Scott, an All-ACC first-teamer. In the second-round win over Norfolk State, Murphy helped limit Spartans 6-10, 240-pound center Kyle O'Quinn to four points on 1-of-9 shooting.
His progression defensively has earned Murphy respect from his teammates.
"I don't know how this guy does it, but he gets about three blocks a game," Young said. "This guy can't jump. He's not quick. But he blocks shots every game. That's what impressed me the most."
Part of Murphy's success Thursday was due to him accepting Donovan's halftime challenge.
"Murphy is just being aggressive on both ends of the floor," Gators freshman Brad Beal said. "Coach is always getting on his butt about rebounding in practice. It's carried over to the game. He's doing a tremendous job for us."
Murphy took on a more prominent defensive role when forward Will Yeguete suffered a season-ending broken foot. All Yeguete could do Thursday was watch from the bench, knowing that if he was healthy he would likely have earned plenty of minutes matched up on Crowder.
Instead, Murphy played the whole second half.
"He has been more physical. He has picked it up defensively and is doing a really good job guarding all the guys, and rebounding," Yeguete said. "He got 10 today. And he blocks shots. People don't see that. He has definitely improved defensively throughout the season."
Senior guard Erving Walker sees a different player than the one who missed time early in the season.
"Him going into the weight room almost every day has helped him out a lot," Walker said. "When he puts his mind to it, we know he is just more than a shooter. I think he showed it tonight and did a great job."
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
PHOENIX -- On a night that set offensive basketball back half a century, the city of Phoenix would like to thank the Florida Gators for doing something no other team in the West Regional could do Thursday: eclipsing the 40 percent shooting threshold.
For that, the Gators can thank guard Bradley Beal, who continues to use the NCAA tournament as his personal showcase.
Kenny Boynton and Brad Beal talked to the media following Florida's 68-58 victory over Marquette. It was a fast paced game and the two were pressed into the speed and very physical play from a Big East opponent. They talked for a few moments after the late night game and we have the transcript and video here.
Now that the Florida Gators are in the Sweet Sixteen in basketball, Nike has made a commercial for them. The new clothes look absolutely awesome. I can’t wait to see the commercial the Gators get if they end up beating Marquette in the game tonight.H/T AlligatorArmy.com
South Carolina hosts the consensus number 1 team in the nation, the Florida Gators. Florida is, to put it simply, the most complete college baseball team I have seen.
Batting: Florida returns the SEC Player of the year, Mike Zunino He is batting .402 this year with 7 home runs and 25 RBIs. He is joined by two first team all-SEC batters in Preston Tucker (.321, 8 HR, 22 RBI...
The Gators have been scoring a whole lot of points here lately and have made more three pointers than any other team in the country this year. I don’t think Florida has that one player that can beat you, but they have three of four very solid guys. As good as they’ve looked on offense this season, I’m anxious to see how they’ll look against Louisville’s defense.
Bradley Beal and Erik Murphy scored 14 points each, but Florida squandered an 11-point lead in the second half to lose 72-68 in the West Regional on Saturday and keep coach Billy Donovan winless against his mentor.
Donovan hadn't beaten Louisville coach Rick Pitino in six previous tries, but appeared to be headed toward a breakthrough win after the Gators hit eight 3-pointers...
The Florida Gators are preparing to take on 3rd seeded Marquette in the West regional Thursday in the gators second straight sweet 16 appearance. Star guard Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker took the stand in front f the national media to answer a few questions about the game and we have that interview session here for you.
The Florida Gators five starters spent over 20 minutes in front of the national media in Phoenix on Friday. The big game looming in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against Louisville poses some big questions for the Gators as they look to better their Elite Eight finih a year ago. Here is the video and written transcript of the media session.
The Florida Gators will advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. This time they advance on the upset of #3 seed Marquette in a rough and tumble game that saw the orange and blue prevail 69-58. Here is a look at the game in pictures of the big win
1) CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
Following his three years as a starter for Florida, Jenkins transferred to North Alabama after multiple run-ins with both the law and his coaches. Even though the competition was not comparable, Jenkins kept himself in the top three or four as his position. He is a natural cover corner with good instincts and exceptional quick-twitch...
Alley oop from Florida Gators Kenny Boyton to Casey Prather, vs Marquette.
PHOENIX - Almost every time he touches the ball, Bradley Beal does something special. His latest bit of basketball wizardry moved Florida a win away from the Final Four and set up Billy Donovan with a perfectly scripted matchup against his old coach and boss, Rick Pitino.
The Gators offense is in transition under new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, and the players are getting their first taste of it out at Spring practice. Get the latest on Pease's style and find out what the defense is focused on here.
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Analysis of Florida Gators' victory over Marquette Golden Eagles