And it worked.
Alex Tyus had 20 points and Vernon Macklin added 19 as the Gators cruised to a 65-52 victory over Kent State.
The two combined to be 10-for-14 from the field in the first half, while the rest of the team was 5-for-17. The halftime adjustment was to make no adjustment at all. Donovan wanted his players to continue to pound the ball inside.
“Until (Kent State) makes a decision on what they want to do, the ball needs to go inside. What can happen sometimes is guys hear that and stare the post down, which makes it tough to post feed. We did a better job of getting those guys the ball in areas they could do something with it.”
Tyus ended the game 10-for-15 from the field, with half of his field goals coming on dunks that brought even more energy to the team.
Of Florida’s 65 points, 46 of them came in the paint. The Gators also had 17 second-chance points on 14 offensive rebounds.
Tyus struggled in recent games, so the bounce back performance was necessary for him to regain confidence. Shooting 67% from the field had his confidence as high as it could be after the game. The combination of Tyus and Macklin will help the Gators score on down low this season.
“Vernon was just being Vernon,” Tyus said. “(For me), it just feels good to help the team and win. We’re starting to realize we can score inside, as well as outside. That’s going to help us against other teams because they’ll have to prepare for our shooters and the inside.”
After trailing 27-23, the Gators closed the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 32-27 lead at halftime, with five of those points coming from Boynton.
However, the run wasn’t a credit to their offensive play. It came because of an increased focus on the defensive end.
“We got a lot of stops and stopped them from scoring,” Tyus said. “We got some easy baskets, and that’s what helped us. We just had a better focus on those possessions.”
The run didn’t stop there. The Gators opened the second half on a 16-4 run, pushing their lead to a comfortable 48-31 with 13:16 remaining.
“It was all defense,” Macklin said. “Coaches wanted us to get back and find our man. We try to get three stops in a row because that’s the drill we do in practice. We work on it out here, and we got three stops in a row… and then some.”
The Gators won by double digits despite having only 16 points from Boynton, Erving Walker and Chandler Parsons. Boynton’s shooting struggles continued, as he was 3-for-12 from the field, including 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line.
Parsons is averaging 10.2 points per game this season after he was expected to lead the team. What Donovan isn’t getting in points, he’s seeing in other areas. The mismatch Parsons provides is too much for Donovan to consider asking for more points from the senior.
“Chandler needs to be a point forward,” Donovan said. “He’s a smart player that they have to guard. Certainly, if he has an open shot or drive to the basket, I want him to do those things. But we don’t need him to score. A perfect example is Chandler, Erving and Kenny didn’t score much tonight, we played against a pretty good team and won by double figures.
“We need Chandler to make everyone around him better. The minute Chandler thinks about shooting and scoring, you lose all the other things he does well. If he gets 15-18 points a game and shoots a high percentage, that’s great, but Chandler should be a guy that is a double-figure scorer, top-three team rebounding and top-three in assists. He needs to be a complete player for us.”
The Gators won’t play any games next week because of final exams, so their next game will come against No. 5 Kansas State in Sunrise, Fla., on December 18.