Southeastern Conference (21-12, 9-7)
Big Wins: 11/27 vs Michigan State (77-74), 2/20 at Mississippi (64-61), 2/23 Tennessee (75-62)
Bad Losses: 12/22 South Alabama (66-67), 2/10 at South Carolina (71-77), 2/27 at Georgia (76-78)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, National Champions
Coach: Billy Donovan (22-7 in 9 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Coach Billy Donovan has molded this relatively inexperienced squad into a good team. The Gators do not turn the ball over very often, nor do they commit a lot of fouls. The emergence of the young backcourt duo of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton can be thanked for that. Walker, a 5-8 sophomore, has done a great job in all facets of the game. He is averaging 12.6 points per game and dishes out a team high 4.9 assists. He is also the most prolific outside shooter on the team, a solid defender and a surprisingly effective rebounder for a 5-8 point guard.
Boynton is prone to some freshman mistakes, but he is the team’s leading scorer at 13.6 points per game. He is also a quality ballhandler which is nice to have when the opposition is pressing Walker or the sophomore needs to take a short breather.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Florida is smart when they take care of the ball, but sometimes a bad shot is just as bad as a turnover and Boynton is not opposed to taking bad shots. He has gotten better as the season has progressed, but he is shooting a mere 28.5 percent from beyond the arc and takes 7.1 attempts per game. The lack of depth in the backcourt is an issue as well. Ray Shipman, a 6-5 wing, is the only other guard on the roster and Boynton and Walker are both playing over 32 minutes per game. While this is a team that has a couple big guys who can handle and shoot the ball in Chandler Parsons and Dan Werner, neither of them have the ability to defend an opposing shooting guard and spend all their time at the forward spots.
Who To Watch:
The clutch shooting of Parsons is always fun to watch, but the true interior players on Florida are Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin. Tyus has emerged as a pretty consistent interior scorer during conference play and ranks fourth on the team with 12.0 points per game and leads the team with 6.8 rebounds per contest. At 6-10 and 240 pounds, Macklin is the big body under the basket. While the Gators are not a good shot blocking team, Macklin is biggest threat to block a couple shots. And, perhaps more importantly, Tyus and Macklin do a great job staying out of foul trouble and that is very important so Parsons and Werner can spend a majority of their time at the small forward position and the depth behind them is pretty much non-existent.
Erving Walker, Sophomore, Guard, 12.6 ppg, 4.9 apg
Kenny Boynton, Freshman, Guard, 13.6 ppg, 2.7 apg
Chandler Parsons, Junior, Forward, 12.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
Alex Tyus, Junior, Forward, 12.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Vernon Macklin, Junior, Center, 10.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Ray Shipman, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Dan Werner, Senior, Forward, 4.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.5 (110th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.0 (88, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.3 (133, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (135, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (216, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.7 (261, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.1 (131, 4)
Rebound Margin: 2.4 (100, 4)
Assists Per Game: 14.1 (91, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (65, 2)
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