GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Alex Tyus scored 13 points apiece as Florida beat Florida State 68-52 Tuesday night and snapped a three-game losing streak in the series.
The Gators opened up a 20-point lead at halftime -- playing the kind of defense coach Billy Donovan wanted to see the last two years -- and put the game away with another defensive-led spurt in the second half.Florida (4-0) now gets its toughest challenge of the season when it plays No. 2 Michigan State on Friday in Atlantic City in the Legends Classic.Derwin Kitchen, a former Florida signee who never played in Gainesville, led the Seminoles (3-1) with 15 points. Chris Singleton added 14.The Seminoles, outplayed in every aspect in the first 20 minutes, came to life to start the second half. They started pressing, forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets. The result was a 19-2 run that nearly erased a 20-point halftime deficit.But the play of the game may have been a charge. Yes, a charge.Dan Werner stopped a 2-on-1 break by drawing a charge on Jordan DeMercy. FSU had a chance to cut the lead to 45-40. Instead, Werner's play sparked another strong defensive effort from the Gators and a 12-0 run that put them out front 55-38.Tyus hit a jumper, Walker got a steal and a reverse layup, then added another layup on a behind-the-back pass from Ray Shipman.It was just getting started, too. Boynton converted a three-point play, Chandler Parsons hit a 3 from the corner and Walker's uncontested drive through the lane made it 61-41 with about 5 minutes remaining.The Gators shot 46 percent from the field and held FSU to 33 percent shooting.Florida played its most inspired first half in more than two years.The Gators pressed Florida State into mistake after mistake. Errant throws, traveling calls, 10-second violations, FSU found several ways to turn the ball over. The Seminoles had twice as many turnovers (16) as shots made (8) in the opening 20 minutes.The Gators, meanwhile, were getting easy shots all over the court.Tyus, who sprained an ankle in Florida's last game, showed no trouble getting up and down the floor. He had eight points and five rebounds, Shipman added eight points off the bench and the Gators led 39-19 at the break. They were 16 of 31 shooting, had eight offensive boards and did just about everything right to start the game.The Seminoles, behind 10 points from Singleton, led early. But the Gators put together an 18-2 run to pull away. FSU went more than 6 minutes without a basket and couldn't find an answer for Florida's pressing defense and up-tempo offense.Donovan's team really started pulling away when it got hot from long range. Shipman and Walker hit consecutive 3-pointers. Walker, the shortest guy on the court, was left alone for two layups. Werner added a pair of 3s in the final minutes.