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Florida gets back at Arkansas for earlier loss

The SportsXchange

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida has plenty of motivation in its rematch with Arkansas on Saturday night at the O'Connell Center.

Led by 15 points from senior guard Mike Rosario, the No. 5 Gators beat Arkansas 71-54. Florida avenged an 80-68 loss at Arkansas on Feb. 4 by attacking the basket throughout the game. The Gators outscored the Razorbacks 42-18 in the paint and had 18 second-chance points.

"We wanted to let them know that we were the better team," Florida senior forward Erik Murphy said. "That first game at their place, they came out on fire and we weren't ready. That's not us."

Patric Young added 14 points for the Gators on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy each had 12 points.

Young said the Gators were complacent in their first meeting against Arkansas. Florida was No. 2 in the country at the time and unbeaten (8-0) in the SEC.

"We respected them more this time," Young said. "We were a little bit complacent and we felt good about ourselves. Tonight, we took on the challege. We really wanted to get those guys back. so we came out ready to play."

Coty Clarke led Arkansas (17-10, 8-6 SEC) with 18 points. Freshman Anthlon Bell added 14 points off the bench for the Razorbacks.

Up 32-28 at the half, the Gators started the second half with an 11-1 run and mantained a ouble-digit lead the rest of way.

"Those guys were ready," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "They had a little something to prove and obviously, I thought in the second half they really did."

Young was more active inside. He had averaged just 2 points over his previous two games.

"It's a total choice by him," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "It's a mentality. It's a commitment. It's him working every single day like that ... as big and strong as he is, there is no reason he shouldn't demand the ball every time when he gets down inside."

Florida pressured Arkansas into 36.2 percent shooting from the floor. The Gators held an opponent below 60 points for the 19th time this season.

Arkansas stayed in the game early before junior forward Marhsawn Powell got into foul trouble. Powell scored seven of Arkansas' first eight points but picked up his second foul with 10:45 remaining in the first half. Both were charges into Florida junior forward Casey Prather.

With Powell out, the Gators were able to effectively attack the rim. Up 14-13, Florida went on a 9-0 run that included a Rosario 3-pointer, a Prather putback dunk and two driving baskets from Boynton.

An inside hook shot from Young put Florida up 25-15, but Arkansas answered with a 6-0 run, cutting Florida's lead to 25-21 on an inside layup by Clarke.

Murphy ended the run with a 3-pointer, putting Florida back up 28-21. A driving basket by Boynton boosted Florida's margin to 30-23, but Arkansas closed the half with a 5-2 run. A 3-pointer from Bell and a putback from Jacorey Williams cut into Florida's lead at halftime.

The Gators shot just 40.6 percent from the field and 30.8 percent (4 of 13) from 3-point range in the first half. But Florida outscored Arkansas 18-10 in the paint and had nine points off nine first-half Arkansas turnovers.

NOTES: Florida freshman forward Michael Frazier II suffered a concussion in the second half while chasing for a loose ball. His head banged into teammate Scottie Wilbekin's knee. Frazier is doubtful for Florida's next game Tuesday night at Tennessee. "Obviously, there will be baseline tests that they will do on him," Donovan said. "I don't know how long he will be out for." Frazier scored six points off the bench for the Gators before he was injured. ... Florida junior forward Will Yeguete shot jumpers during pregame warm-ups. Yeguete is still rehabilitating from surgery Feb. 8 to remove bone chips in a knee. Donovan has not ruled out Yeguete returning before the end of the regular season. "This is part of his recovery, getting him back in layups, jogging, running, shooting," Donovan said. "He's starting to do some of this light work now and every day there is no swelling, or no discomfort, they push him a little bit further." ... Florida's announced crowd of 12,609 was its fourth straight sellout and fifth of the season.
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