GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)—Florida coach Billy Donovan was concerned how his team would react two nights after losing to No. 4 Ohio State by 18 points.
He expected a hangover.
He got a walkover.
Chandler Parsons and Kenny Boynton led eight players in double figures with 16 points apiece, and the ninth-ranked Gators beat North Carolina A&T 105-55 Thursday night.
“I’m really encouraged with the way our guys responded and the attitude they came out with,” Donovan said.
The Gators (2-1) bounced back from the lopsided loss, eclipsed the 100-point mark for the first time since 2007 and got four freshmen valuable playing time.
Florida was bigger, faster and deeper than the Aggies (1-3)—and it showed from the opening tip. The Gators led by 28 points late in the first half and stretched it to 40 midway through the second.
Casey Prather (12), Erik Murphy (11), Erving Walker (11), Patric Young (11), Scottie Wilbekin (11) and Vernon Macklin (10) also scored in double figures for the Gators. Walker and Wilbekin, both point guards, has six assists and no turnovers each.
Will Yeguete finished with seven points and 15 rebounds, including nine offensive. Prather, Young, Wilbekin and Yeguete—all freshmen—played most of the second half.
“We need to develop our bench,” Donovan said. “We’re trying to be a better team than we were a year ago, and we need our freshmen to grow and develop. They’ve got to add some depth for us and they’ve got to become consistent and responsible.
“I thought this was a good game for them to build that confidence level in terms of seeing themselves on film, seeing themselves in the game, where they made mistakes, where they did a good job and where collectively as a group we can improve,” he added.
Nic Simpson led North Carolina A&T with 11 points. Thomas Coleman added eight points and 10 boards, but the Aggies were overmatched for the third time in four games. It won’t get much easier for them, either. They play Mississippi State, Stanford, Arizona State and Arkansas early next month.
“We knew by pressing Florida we would open up the game and give them more opportunities to do what they do,” A&T coach Jerry Eaves said. “The way we play is kind of to their advantage, but I wasn’t going to come in here and play zone and hold the ball.”
The Gators had 26 assists on 42 baskets, 16 steals and eight blocked shots. They also had just 11 turnovers, a big problem against the Buckeyes.
Florida had some trouble putting lesser opponents away in the preseason, causing Donovan to question whether they had the right mentality. They had no issues against the Aggies, scoring 53 points in the first half and 52 in the second.
And most of the second-half scoring came from the freshmen.
“When we practice, it’s normally just us together out there so we felt pretty comfortable out there together,” Young said. “The game just flowed well. We didn’t expect too much out of each other, just to come out there and play hard as brothers. We always want each other to do well. It just felt pretty good out there.”
The Gators held A&T to 34.5 percent shooting, 28 points in the first and 27 in the second. Of course, it helped that Florida was better at every position.
The Gators drove to the basket at will, breaking the Aggies down and getting open looks all around. Every starter shot better than 50 percent, and the team hit 57.5 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range.
“I thought our guys played the right way,” Donovan said. “When you have a big lead, sometimes guys can try to do a little bit too much and get out of the frame of work you’re trying to play within. I thought our guys responded well.”