Backcourt stumbles against Ohio State
Gators guards struggle with turnovers, shooting percentage in opening loss
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It wasn't the play of Florida's smaller frontcourt that hurt the Gators against Ohio State. It was the loaded backcourt that stumbled.
Florida's offensive numbers looked pretty good in the 81-74 loss to the Buckeyes -- 45 percent from the field, 11 for 22 from 3-point range -- but the Gators guards turned the ball over too much, didn't shoot it well and struggled to find a consistent offensive flow.
Erving Walker, Mike Rosario, Bradley Beal and Kenny Boynton combined to go 14-for-36 shooting (including 7 for 18 from 3-point range) and had eight assists and 13 turnovers. Those number include Boynton's 5-for-10 performance (3 for 6 from 3-point range), which shows how ineffectively the other three played.
It was a particularly bad night for Walker. The senior point guard went 1 for 6 from the floor to go along with four assists, three turnovers and four points. He also revived a part of his game that he had nearly eliminated last season: driving into the lane without a plan and waiting until he was in the air before deciding where to throw the ball.
Donovan was particularly disappointed the guards didn't do a good job of getting the ball inside to Patric Young (14 points, 12 rebounds) more in the first half and to Erik Murphy (4 for 4 from 3-point range) when he was open on the wing.
"Pat plays the whole entire first half and took one shot," Donovan said. "In the second half we did a better job of getting it to him in around the basket and he was 5 for 9 from the field in the second half. There was times Murphy was wide open where they just didn't see him, and they've got to recognize [that he's open].
"A lot of times it's not so much that a guy is wide open, but he's open enough where the ball needs to move. And when the ball moved well for us, a lot of good things happened for us offensively."
The Gators (1-1) got off to a hot start offensively, making six of their first nine 3-point attempts before they cooled off and made just one of their five shots from the field in the final 6:37 of the first half. That turned a 26-22 lead into a 35-32 deficit.
"When you do that against good teams you're playing catch-up," Donovan said. "And we allowed them to get back into the game where we really could have had a much bigger lead, at least going into the half."
Florida, which plays host to North Florida (1-1) on Thursday, did not struggle to rebound the ball, which was Donovan's biggest concern heading into the season. Despite the presence of Jared Sullinger, the Gators out-rebounded the Buckeyes 38-29. They scored 15 points off 13 offensive rebounds.
Sullinger, who had 26 points on 13-of-17 shooting and 10 rebounds in last year's meeting in Gainesville, had 16 points and six rebounds on Tuesday. He took just eight shots but did go 8 for 8 from the free-throw line.
"I thought we did a good job on him," Donovan said. "I thought we changed and mixed it up where he wasn't maybe the presence he was a year ago here. That was encouraging."
Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.
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