GAINESVILLE - After losing its fourth game of the season against Missouri on Tuesday, No. 5 Florida entered Saturday’s game against Arkansas looking for a bounce-back performance.
The Gators got just that, playing well in nearly every phase to down the Razorbacks 71-54 in the O’Connell Center.
Florida (21-4, 12-2 Southeastern Conference) holds a two-game lead in the SEC standings after Alabama lost 97-94 to LSU in triple overtime on Saturday.
Coach Billy Donovan criticized his team for not driving to the hoop or attacking inside during UF’s 63-60 loss at Missouri, and the Gators appeared to get the message. Led by 14 points from Patric Young, the Gators scored 42 points in the paint.
“When he’s involved, it really helps us,” Donovan said. “He demanded the basketball. … Patric can really help himself in there in a lot of ways when he makes the choice to do that.”
Young is shooting 61 percent this season but has often struggled to get shot attempts in Florida’s three-pointer-happy offense.
Donovan said that, in many instances, this is a result of Young not running the floor and posting up as well as he can.
“There are games where he does not do that,” Donovan said. “As big and as strong as he is, there’s no reason he shouldn’t demand the ball every single time when he gets down inside. … My daughter could have thrown the ball inside to him tonight. He was open, and he made himself available, and he wanted it, and he had a presence.”
Florida took 39 two-point shots compared to 23 threes, connecting on 53.8 percent of its tries from inside the arc.
Mike Rosario scored 15 points to lead UF, while Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy each added 12.
Florida avenged an 80-69 loss at Arkansas on Feb. 5. The Razorbacks, a 31 percent three-point shooting team for the season, knocked down 7 of their first 9 three-point attempts in that game to put the Gators in an early hole.
The same magic was not there on Saturday, as Arkansas hit just 6 of 27 attempts and 4 of its first 23 from beyond the arc.
“Last game was a fluke,” Scottie Wilbekin said. “They played better than they’ve ever played all season, and we knew that wasn’t going to happen today. We just guarded like we know how to, and the result was as it should be.”
Arkansas’ leading scorer, B.J. Young, scored just 3 points on 0-for-8 shooting and 0 for 4 from three-point range on Saturday.
Florida moved to 12-0 at home, winning every game by at least 14 points.
UF freshman Michael Frazier took a knee to the face from Wilbekin while diving for a loose ball, suffering a concussion.