Gators win home basketball opener
Gators host Wisconsin Wednesday night
Back on the court for a full 40 minutes, 10th-ranked Florida got off to a fast start.
Kenny Boynton scored 22 points and the Gators cruised past Alabama State 84-35 on Sunday in their delayed opener.
Florida was supposed to begin the season Friday against Georgetown aboard the USS Bataan, but the game was canceled at halftime because there was moisture on the court.
The Gators led Alabama State 47-9 at halftime, the fewest points Florida has allowed in the first half since the implementation of the shot clock.
"We definitely wanted to come out with a bang," said Boynton, who played only 22 minutes. "This was a good game to get everyone in and get a feel for the game."
Four of Florida's starters scored at least 12 points. Nine players logged at least 18 minutes.
As the Gators approached the beginning of the season, coach Billy Donovan was concerned about his team's defense and rebounding during practices and an exhibition game. They allayed some of his worries against Alabama State (0-2).
Florida took an 8-0 lead and was ahead by 32 points with 6:24 left in the first half.
The Hornets missed 19 of their first 20 shots and went 2 for 25 overall in the first half. They finished 10 of 53 from the field and committed 19 turnovers.
"We couldn't throw it in the ocean because they were so much bigger and stronger than we were," Alabama State coach Lewis Jackson said. "We just struggled trying to get into our offense."
Backup guard Bobby Brown led Alabama State with 14 points.
Boynton shot 8 of 10 and made all four of his 3-point tries. He also had six rebounds and five assists.
Patric Young had 12 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Gators. Erik Murphy added 15 points and Mike Rosario had 14.
"We all came out with great energy and great focus and got the job done," Young said.
The Gators face a much more difficult challenge Wednesday when No. 23 Wisconsin visit. Florida takes on Marquette two weeks later in a rematch of last season's NCAA tournament game in the round of 16.
Even though Alabama State was overmatched, it was important for Florida to establish its defensive tenacity.
"It builds some confidence knowing that whenever we need a stop, we can do just that," Young said. "It'll give us confidence against whoever we're facing coming up next, whether it's Wisconsin or Marquette, that we can get a stop when we need to."
The Gators played without junior Scottie Wilbekin, who was expected to be the starting point guard this season but is indefinitely suspended because of an undisclosed disciplinary issue. Forward Casey Prather, another potential starter, was out with a concussion.
It is unknown when either player will return. Donovan expects Prather to miss a minimum of one more week and wouldn't be surprised if he is out two weeks. He sustained two concussions in the preseason, with the latest occurring last week.
Wilbekin's situation is more uncertain. Donovan said he has not met with Wilbekin since suspending him and still needs more information to make a decision. Wilbekin is not allowed to practice and did not sit on Florida's bench during the Alabama State game.
"As of right now, I am not playing him against Wisconsin," Donovan said. "He's not been around our team. He's not banned from our facility. I still want to reach out to him, and he's still part of our team and our family."
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