Gators shut down Gamecocks in 75-36 win
by David Jones, USA TODAY Sports
GAINESVILLE — Florida players don’t talk about wins any more. They talk about taking teams to their knees … in the first few minutes of games.
“Rip your heart out,” says guard Kenny Boynton, who matched fellow Gators guard Mike Rosario’s 15 points in a 75-36 win against South Carolina on Wednesday night that ran four-ranked Florida’s season-high winning streak to nine straight.
“We want to take teams’ hearts out in the first four minutes of games,” agreed Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin. “I think that was our best defensive effort this year.
Which is saying a lot.
“Our guys are getting better,” UF coach Billy Donovan said of the press defense that is giving opponents fits. “They are understanding rotations (better) and things.”
Florida (17-2 overall) is becoming a defensive team that forces opponents to buckle up and hold on for dear life at the start of games — blowing away one SEC team after another.
The Gators held the Gamecocks to their lowest point total in an SEC game in school history. The Gamecocks’ previous low in a conference game was 40 vs. Kentucky in 1999. The fewest points Florida allowed in an entire contest in the shot clock era was 27 vs. Southern in 2008.
It was the largest margin of victory in the Gamecocks’ series, the previous high being 35 on Feb. 16, 1931,
“They’re real good,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin. “The more I studied them on tape, the more I realized there’s a reason they’ve played as well as they have this year. When they play here in this building they take it to even another level.”
It was just the third time the Gators have started a conference schedule with at least seven wins before losing. The 2002-03 team also opened 7-0 in league play. Florida’s best start was 11-0 during the 2006-07 season, the second of the Gators’ back-to-back national title teams.
As has been the case all season, Florida’s defense set the tempo from the outset. South Carolina (12-8 overall, 2-5 in SEC play) made just three of 21 field goal attempts in the opening 20 minutes and trailed 33-10 at … [For more on No. 4 Gators shut down Gamecocks in 75-36 win, click here.]