Saturday, January 26, 2013 11:06 pm
Mississippi St falls to No. 8 Florida, 82-47
By DAVID BRANDTAP Sports Writer
Mississippi State's roster lacks any of those attributes. But that's not why first-year Bulldogs' coach Rick Ray is frustrated.
Instead, Ray bemoaned a long string of bad decisions and selfish basketball that led to No. 8 Florida's easy 82-47 victory over the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy both scored 18 points and the 8th-ranked Gators poured in a season-high 14 3-pointers in an easy 82-47 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
"They have the best players in the SEC and the most talented players in the SEC, but their willingness to share the basketball is by far their best attribute," Ray said. "Our team needs to learn from that ... Right now, we're just a selfish basketball team. Then on top of that, we're not defending the way we need to defend because we're so wrapped up in our offense."
Boynton said the reason for Florida's shooting success wasn't because of a fancy scheme. Instead, it was simply good decision-making.
"We took open shots," Boynton said. "Patric Young did a great job finding us when they doubled him on the post. He found shooters and we did a good job knocking them down."
Scottie Wilbekin and Young both added 13 points. The Gators (16-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) have now won eight straight and were never challenged in this one, bolting out to a 20-6 lead in less than eight minutes and a 41-19 advantage by halftime.
Boynton and Murphy led the Gators with four 3-pointers each. Boynton finished 7 of 11 from the field and 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
The Gators are already known as an elite defensive team, giving up about 51 points per game. But their offense was just as efficient against the Bulldogs, as Florida made 31 of 56 shots (55.4 percent) from the field and 14 of 31 (45.2 percent) from 3-point range.
Murphy shot 6 of 8 from the field - including 4 of 6 from 3-point range - while Young was 6 of 6 from the floor and grabbed four offensive rebounds. Florida had 23 assists on 31 field goals.
"I thought we were really unselfish," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. We moved and passed the basketball and really got good looks throughout the course of the game."
Fred Thomas led Mississippi State (7-11, 2-4) with 19 points. Colin Borchert and Gavin Ware both added 10. The Bulldogs have lost four straight.
Florida blitzed the Bulldogs early, making 4 of 7 from 3-point range in the opening minutes. Boynton and Murphy both hit 3-pointers during the early run, which set the tone for the entire night.
The Gators pushed their lead to 31-8 on Wilbekin's layup with 8:21 remaining in the first half and the half-empty Humphrey Coliseum - which was already quiet - fell almost completely silent.
Florida shot 15 of 31 (48.4 percent) from the field in the first half and outrebounded the Bulldogs 25-9.
It was another tough night for Mississippi State, which won its first two Southeastern Conference games but has now dropped four straight by at least 15 points. The Bulldogs were obviously overmatched from the beginning and some early defensive breakdowns turned this one into a laugher quickly.
"I think Florida is by far the best team in the SEC and I'd venture to say they're probably playing better than anyone else in the nation at this point in time," Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said.
Thomas was one of the few bright spots for the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-5 freshman made 8 of 9 from the free-throw line and had a game-high seven steals.
But Ray wasn't in the mood to hand out compliments - unless it was to the Gators. He said the Bulldogs took way too many quick, ill-advised shots to be competitive against a team with the depth and talent of Florida.
It didn't help the Bulldogs that the Gators were hitting almost every open look from 3-point range. Wilbekin hit Florida's 11th 3-pointer of the night - and the Gators' fifth of the second half - with 12:25 remaining to push the lead to 62-29.
Florida finished the game with a 44-20 rebounding advantage. Wilbekin added nine assists while Michael Frazier and Will Yeguete led the Gators with eight rebounds each.
It's the 10th time this season Florida has held an opponent under 50 points.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP