Florida basketball shines in Sunrise, uses strong second half to top Air Force

Florida Gators center Patric Young blocks a shot by Air Force Falcons guard Kyle Green during the second half of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic held at the BB&T Center. (Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports)

The Florida Gators (9-2) have escaped their pre-existing condition of a bad case of “the Saturdays”, pulling away from the Air Force Falcons (8-3) in the second half for 78-61 victory.

The Gators outscored the Falcons by the slimmest of margins in the first half –only leading 33-31 at the intermission– but blew the game open in the second 20 minutes, outscoring the opposition 45-30.

The bulk of the scoring came from forward Eric Murphy. Murphy contributed a game high 21 points with his typical blend of outside shooting and his newfound inside game, which included a lethal spin move while posting up a defender. He did a bit of everything with seven rebounds and a team high three blocks.

Florida flexed its muscles in the interior early and often. Not only outscoring the Falcons in the paint 38-20, but also beating them on the boards. Air Force was unable to capitalize off of missed shots and create second chance opportunities, only corralling six out of a possible 31 offensive rebounds; their ineptitude on the glass was a reason for their demise.

The Gators were also able to contain Falcon leading scorer Michael Lyons, bottling him up to the tune of only 11 points, well under his season average of 20.5 points per game. While Lyons lost his usual form, Florida guard Kenny Boynton seemed to regain some of his.

Boynton entered the game shooting an abysmal 13-for-51 from the field and 4-for-32 from three. The game played in Sunrise, FL was a homecoming for Boynton who hails from nearby Pompano Beach. The familiar surroundings did the struggling senior a service as Boynton chipped in 14 points, and his 3-of-7 three-point shooting was a site for the sore eyes of Gator Nation. Boynton is too good not to break the slump, and as conference play is very near to tipping off, the time is now for Boynton to get off the schnide.

Florida returns to the hardwood to play at Yale Saturday January 6th at 5:30.

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