As you are aware, because this is the third time the Cats and Gators face off this year, Billy Donovan’s squad is led by their guard tandem in junior Erving Walker (5-8, 171) and sophomore Kenny Boynton (6-2, 183). Walker leads the team in scoring with 14.5 points-per-game and Boynton is right there behind him with 13.9. You have to play up on both of these guys because they are both threats from deep. Walker has knocked down a team-high 63 threes, while shooting 38-percent, and Boyton has 65 and shoots 32-percent.
They are both shoot-first guards that are quick off the bounce and have the ability to knock it down from anywhere on the court. Both guards have the ability to kill opposing defenses at anytime, but they also have the ability to kill Florida. They are streaky shooters, but even if their shots aren’t falling they will continue to pull.
I gaurantee at some point on Saturday that you see either Walker or Boynton go four or five trips looking like they couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean and then they take some shot with 28 seconds on the shot clock from 24 feet and it goes down. It happens every game.
Neither Walker nor Boynton are real distributors and because of that their offense is forced to go through someone else and that is senior Chandler Parsons (6-10, 218). Early in the year I got sick and tired of watching Florida and seeing Parsons on the supposive “Star Watch”. But, now I’m more of a believer and so is everyone else as he was named SEC Player of the Year.
At 6-10, Parsons is a very versatile player. For his size he lacks a real inside presence, but he does have the ability to rebound it, shoot it and distribute it. He leads the team in both assists (3.6) and rebounds (7.7) and is fourth on the team in scoring with 11.5 points. He is also another threat from behind the arc for the Gators as he has knocked down 35 threes while shooting 39-percent.
When this Florida team plays it’s best basketball they get their post guys involved. When they don’t, they rely way too much on the effectiveness of Walker and Boynton. Both are good players, but when they try to do it all by themselves Florida is a lot easier to beat.
They have some talent underneath and their best big is senior Vernon Macklin (6-10, 245). The transfer from Georgetown is good and needs the rock. He’s long and he has a multitude of post moves at the rim.
UK has struggled defending underneath against the likes of Georgia’s Trey Thompkinsm, Alabama’s Jamychal Green and others. Macklin is not as versatile as Thompkins or as strong as Green, but he may be the best pure post scorer of the bunch.
He is third on the team in scoring with 11.6 points-per-game and is second in rebounding at 5.7. But, the most impressive stat is the fact that he is shooting 58-percent from the floor. Last year he shot 61-percent.
When the Gators get him the ball in the post, good things happen. When they don’t, they become way too reliant on perimeter shooting and if their shots aren’t falling, they are much more susceptible.
Oh, and when talking about Florida you can’t forget the former Predator lookalike in senior Alex Tyus (6-8, 220). Sorry ladies, but earlier this year Tyus cut off his luscious dreadlocks. He is the garbage guy for Florida and averages 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Overall, the Gators are a decent rebounding team with 40.9 per game. Kentucky ranks right in front of them with 41.2. If the Wildcats get beat on the glass, it is going to be tough for them to come away with a win.
This is a good Florida team. This is a team that has improved throughout the season and they are starting to grow on me. A lot of times I believe that Billy Donovan’s teams are soft. This Florida team has one of the deepest frontlines in the country and believe it or not, they can out-tough you. That’s why Parsons was recognized as SEC POY and Donovan was named Coach of the YEar.
This is a veteran team and if all of their players get involved, they are tough to beat. With Lamb out and just five guys in their rotation, it’s going to be tough for the Cats on Sunday.
Florida 74, Kentucky 69