WASHINGTON (AP)—Kenny Boynton’s first scoreless game for Florida won positive reviews from coach Billy Donovan.
Boynton missed all nine of his shots—including six 3-pointers—but the sophomore guard also had seven assists, no turnovers and played an all-around better game for a Gators team that needed to regain its footing.
Boynton and No. 18 Florida beat American 67-48 Sunday in the opening game of the BB&T Classic tripleheader. The Gators bounced back from Wednesday’s lackluster loss to Central Florida, a defeat that has Donovan’s team in danger of dropping from The Associated Press poll after being ranked ninth in preseason.
“In the UCF game, I thought not only him, but our whole team took a lot of difficult, tough shots,” Donovan said. “Tonight he took great shots, and they didn’t go in.”
Boynton was averaging 14.6 points coming into the game, reaching double figures every time. He also never went scoreless as a freshman last year, but only one other time has he had as many as seven assists with no turnovers.
“I thought he played a terrific game,” Donovan said. “The bottom line was the ball didn’t go in the basket. The way he defended in the press, the way he defended in half court, and the way he made everyone around him better, was a great game. We still scored 67 points without our leading scorer scoring a basket, so that was I thought positive.”
Erving Walker scored 16 for the Gators (6-2), who took the lead for good midway through the first half. Alex Tyus added 14 points, and Chandler Parsons had 13 points and eight rebounds. Vernon Macklin, returning to the court where he played for two seasons with Georgetown before transferring to Florida, finished with 12 points.
Troy Brewer scored 17 for American (5-3), which has dropped three in a row after opening with five straight wins. Vlad Moldoveanu added 14 points for the Eagles, who committed 17 turnovers.
The Eagles were the preseason pick to win the Patriot League—and they managed not to let their Southeastern Conference opponent have any morale-sapping runs until late in the game—but Florida’s superior quickness and overall talent helped it avoid a second straight upset.
American even managed to cut a 16-point second-half deficit to seven with 10 1/2 minutes to play, but Walker’s 3-pointer and Erik Murphy’s layup off an inbounds pass stemmed the Eagles’ momentum.
“For us to have any chance, we have to be (darn) near perfect against a team like Florida,” American coach Jeff Jones said. “We leave this game frustrated … because we can be better. We should, in my opinion, be better.”