Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 2/15/12
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. No one will ever know what sortof night Florida center Patric Young would have had against a fully stockedAlabama team. But one thing UF coach Billy Donovan does know: The reason Young was sodominant in Tuesday night's 61-52 road win over the Crimson Tide was because ofthe way his 6-foot-9, 255-pound sophomore prepared after the Gators sufferedback-to-back losses last week for the first time this season. One of thosedefeats included a deflating home setback three days earlier against Tennessee. Young converted 9-of-12 field-goal attempts on the way to a game-high 19 pointsagainst the Tide, including half of a 16-point UF blitz to tip off the secondhalf. The Gators (20-6, 8-3) picked up a key Southeastern Conference victoryand locked up the program's 14th consecutive 20-win season along the way. "For Patric, this was a total byproduct of the way he prepared for twodays, Donovan said. He had two of his better practices. He really did a goodjob of dealing with fatigue, being tired and playing a lot of minutes. For him,it's so mental. He played 36 minutes against Tennessee, so you'd think thatcoming back and practicing Sunday he would be exhausted. He was great inpractice Sunday." Great against the Crimson Tide, too. He had help, of course. Freshman guard Brad Beal scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, whilejunior forward Erik Murphy added 14 more points on 4-for-8 long-range shooting,plus five rebounds and four steals. Though the backcourt of Kenny Boynton andsenior point guard Erving Walker struggled from the floor a combined3-for-14 after missing their first eight shots Walker finished the game withseven assists, giving him 505 for his career and breaking the school record of503 formerly held by Ronnie Montgomery (1985-88). "It's an honor," Walker said. "But really I'm just glad wewon." Especially after the rough two-game stretch the team had last week, gettingblown out by 20 at No. 1-ranked Kentucky, then falling at home to Tennessee, aloss that snapped the school's 19-game home winning streak. After that game, Donovan challenged his players to recommit themselves,starting with higher energy and focus at practice. Apparently, they responded. Young took to heart a coaching tip the staff threw at him during that stellarSunday workout. "Coach Donovan said, I've got a new rule for you,'" Young explained."He said, Every time you're on the pick-and-roll, I want you to sprint tothe halo, watch for the ball, be fearless and don't worry about running intoanybody.' ... When I turned back and called for the ball, they weren't able tostop me. I got a few lobs, a few duck-ins. Just went strong." There was one 2 12-minute stretch when his strength was powerfully evident toeveryone among the 12,187 inside Coleman Coliseum. Fortunately for the Gators,it happened to come during the most pivotal stage of the game. After a deadlocked first half. The score was tied 26-all at the break after UF shot just 30.8 percent from thefloor and continued its SEC-play issues from the 3-point line, making just 3 of12 through the first 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Tide (16-8, 5-6), even withforwards and leading scorers JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell suspended fordisciplinary reasons, hit nearly 59 percent (10 of 17) of their shots,including 3-for-5 from the arc, yet were locked up on the scoreboard, thanks ingreat part to 11 first-half turnovers. "Really, the message at the half was we had to guard," Murphy said."We were playing well offensively, but the shots weren't going in. So wejust had to come and try to get some stops. We thought with the good looks wewere getting, they'd start falling eventually." So out of the break, the Gators got a stop to start the second half. Andpractically on cue, Murphy rained a 3-pointer to give the Gators the lead. Thencame a steal by Murphy and a pass into the post for a Young dunk. Then a Tidemiss and a Murphy rebound that turned into a Boynton 3-pointer in transition. Timeout, Bama. The Tide should have stayed on the sidelines. They missed on their next four possessions, while Florida kept hitting shots, punctuatedby Young going beast mode on the block for two more dunks and a layup insuccession, and Boynton bombing another trey for a 42-26 lead before Alabamahad even scored a basket out of the break. "They just started making their shots," said guard Andrew Steele, wholed the Tide with 11 points. "And we weren't making ours." The Tide missed their first 10 field-goal attempts of the second half on theway to an 8-for-28 second-half performance (28.6 percent) and 1-for-11 from 3-pointrange (9.1 percent). They were even 12-for-24 for the game at the free-throwline. After the Gators built that 16-point cushion barely five minutes out of thelocker room, the closest Alabama could get was nine. "It was an ugly game in a lot of respects," Donovan said. "Let'srealize Alabama was playing without their two leading scorers." The Gators were minus their two top reserves in forward Will Yeguete(concussion) and guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer). Granted, the tradeoffbetween those two vs. the Tides Green and Mitchell was lopsided, but that'swhere their respective two seasons happened to come together, unfortunately forTide coach Anthony Grant, the former UF assistant and one of Donovan's bestfriends. "We've got to get better as a team, Grant said. We've got to make surethat our guys understand that. We're getting hit in the face with reality rightnow. How do we respond to that?" Donovan isn't dealing with the issues Grant is right now, but adversitypresents itself in many ways. Players respond in different ways, too. "At halftime we talked about coming out with great energy," Youngsaid. "I thought I had an opportunity to give our team some juice." He'll have other such opportunities all of the Gators will when the teamreconvenes Thursday. For practice. That's where the coach says it has start. Someone was listening.
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