Walker's Hot Hand Leads the Gators

Erving Walker

The Gators knew their shots from the outside would have to fall to have a comfortable win. It didn't happen in the first half, but Florida got hot from behind the three-point line in the second half. Erving Walker hit five three-pointers to give the Gators a 66-55 victory over Radford on Wednesday.

"They pack in that zone. We just tried to speed them up and get on the break," Erving Walker said on the post game radio show. "We knew they were going to pack it in there, and it would be tough to get inside. Coach just told us to shoot the ball with confidence. My teammates just found me for good looks."

Walker had 20 points. It was the seventh time in his career he has put up at least 20 points and his second straight game.

The shooting from the field wasn't great on the night. The Gators shot 40.4% from the field. However, they tied a season high by hitting nine three-pointers. Florida shot 36% from behind the three-point line.

The Florida defense wasn't as sharp as it has been. Radford, who came into the game as the 328th best scoring offense in the country, shot 50% from the field. Their issues came on turnovers, where they had 24.

Florida turned the ball over 16 times. It was the third straight game that the Gators have gone over 15 turnovers.

"There is no reason against a 2-3 zone that we should have 16 turnovers in a game," Donovan said. "We just can't have those turnovers, plus we miss free throws. This should've been a game where we had 6-9 turnovers. Now we're talking about scoring 66 points, where we should've been 76-80. That's a huge difference."

The offensive struggles that have plagued Florida throughout the season continued on Wednesday night. The Gators made just two shots from the field in the final eight minutes of the first half. Florida had a 22-9 lead at that point, but Radford went on a 15-9 run to end the half and cut Florida's halftime advantage to 31-24.

The Gators had a 15-3 lead 8:03 into the game. After that point, Radford outscored them 52-51.

"It certainly wasn't pretty," Donovan said. "The thing we've been dealing with the entire year is we've had a difficult time scoring. Our ability to pass the ball and make good decisions aren't good either. We have a hard time shooting, and then we don't shoot the ball good from the free throw line."

The Gators were 11-21 from the free throw line, but they did manage to put up 19 second chance points, while only allowing three for Radford.

Florida outscored Radford 35-31 in the second half, which wouldn't have sounded impressive before the game. However, Florida's offensive struggles over the past few games made it different when they put up that many points in a half.

Donovan had a spirited conversation with the team at halftime, telling them to stop playing timid and shoot the ball with confidence.

"I told them after nine turnovers in the first half that if they were open, they needed to shoot the ball," Donovan said. "I appreciate what they're trying to do. They're trying to make the extra pass and their intentions are good. We just don't have a good basketball feel, and we take one extra dribble than we should take. We should shoot it, but we try to drive it. We get into situations where we have to make decisions, but we just don't have a great feel."

Kenny Boynton's 11 points made him the only other Florida player in double digits. Vernon Macklin had six points and six rebounds, ending a streak of five games in double figures.

The Gators now get a break for Christmas. They will return to action when they host Fairfield on December 28 at 7 p.m.

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