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Florida welcomes Missouri to SEC with 31-point shellacking

The SportsXchange

GAINESVILLE -- No. 10 Florida didn't think it made a huge statement in its dominating 83-52 win over No. 17 Missouri.

The Southeastern Conference race isn't over yet, but the Gators are off to a promising start.

Erik Murphy led four players in double-figures with 15 points, lifting Florida to an 83-52 win over the Tigers in the first SEC game between the two schools at the O'Connell Center

Kenny Boynton added 14 points for the Gators (14-2, 4-0 SEC). Scottie Wilbekin had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists and Will Yeguete had 13 points off the bench to help lead the Gators to their sixth straight win.

Florida has won its first four SEC games by an average margin of 26.8 points.

"It just shows us we have a chance to be really good," Boynton said. "We can't dwell on this or be happy about this game because we have to move on. The SEC is tough and we could lose on any given night so I think overall we played great as a team but we've got to move on and focus on the next thing."

It was Missouri's worst loss since falling 100-63 to Mike Beasley-led Kansas State on Feb. 16, 2008.

"We got beat in all facets of the game today," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "Florida made all of the proper adjustments, decisions and plays throughout the course of the game."

The win also was Florida coach Billy Donovan's 400th at Florida. Donovan is 435-180 overall and 400-160 in 17 seasons at Florida.

"All those individual things as it relates to coaching, are much, much more a reflection of the players I have had a chance to coach here," Donovan said. "That is really what it is about. For me to be here and be a part of 400 wins -- I don't look at them as my wins. I look at them as University of Florida wins."

Jabari Brown led Missouri (13-4, 2-2 SEC) with 16 points. Kion Bell added 14 points before leaving the game with a leg injury in the second half.

Playing its second game in less than 36 hours (Florida played at Texas A&M on Thursday night), the Gators came out with great energy before a sellout crowd and jumped to an early 9-0 lead, with four players scoring UF's first nine point

Florida improved to 15-1 in Thursday-Saturday turnaround SEC games since 2010

"We're not going to let excuses be the foundation of this team," Young said. "We're going to work hard. We're going to prepare. Our coach is going to take care of our bodies, and we're going to do the best we can to win that game."

A runner from Mike Rosario extended UF's lead to 15-2. Boynton and Rosario followed with back-to-back breakaway buckets to put the Gators in front, 19-5. Florida held Missouri to just five points through the first seven minutes of the game.

"We have to make sure that when we're on the road, we're together as a unit and we're ready to play from the beginning to end," Bell said. "We have to be ready to play for 40 minutes."

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Murphy and freshman Michael Frazier II gave Florida its biggest lead of the first half, 35-13. But Missouri closed the half with a 10-5 run. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Brown cut Florida's lead to 40-23 at halftime.

Florida shot 58.6 percent from the floor in the first half, while holding Missouri to 33.3 percent shoot.

Play was ragged on both sides through a turnover-filled first half. Florida committed 11 first-half turnovers, while Missouri had 12 turnovers. But the Gators scored 22 pts off turnovers in the first half off turnovers, while Missouri scored just four points off turnovers.

"The turnovers helped us get out in transition," Donovan said. "The unfortunate part for us is we turned them over 12 times, we turned it over 11 times ourselves, so it was kind of a wash and we probably could have gained a little more out of that."

NOTES: Florida junior forward Casey Prather sat out his second straight game with a high ankle sprain. ... Missouri forward Laurence Bowers was out with a sprained MCL. ... Missouri and Florida played their first SEC game and first game in school history. ... The last time Missouri played in the state of Florida, the Tigers lost 97-64 to Florida State on Dec. 23, 1977 in Orlando. ... Former NBA and Florida point guard Jason Williams sat courtside. ... NBA scouts from 12 teams attended the game, including former Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat point guard Tim Hardaway.
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