Clamped down – No. 13 Gators turn up defense to turn back No. 18 Bulldogs

By Brad Locke | NEMS Daily Journal

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida didn’t have much time to prepare for Mississippi State, but it was hard to tell.
The No. 13 Gators stymied the No. 18 Bulldogs at nearly every turn in Saturday’s 69-57 win. They didn’t let Dee Bost control the tempo, they made scoring a yeoman’s task for Arnett Moultrie, and Patric Young eventually figured out how to beat Renardo Sidney.
Oh, and Florida (17-4, 5-1 SEC) also wore out the nets, making 11 of 24 from 3-point range. Bradley Beal (19 points, 3 of 4 from deep) and Erik Murphy (14 points, 4 of 7) led the attack at the O’Connell Center.
MSU (17-5, 4-3) fell to 1-3 on the SEC road.
Florida was coming off a 64-60 win at Ole Miss on Thursday and took it easy after returning home. It had an easy practice Friday and skipped the Saturday morning shootaround.
“We tried to talk to these guys about defending out of concepts, and how we wanted to guard Bost, Moultrie, Sidney, (Rodney) Hood, based on where they catch the ball and where they try to isolate,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Bost finished with 12 points, as did Moultrie, who also had 13 rebounds but committed six turnovers. He fouled out with 2:04 to go. Sidney was held to five points, while Hood had seven.
Young, who came off the bench as he continues to battle ankle tendinitis, scored 10 of his 12 points after halftime. Sidney did a good job on him the first half before Young got rolling.
“I think he got off-balance a couple of times, and Patric’s probably never played against a guy with that kind of size and strength,” Donovan said. “I thought Patric did a better job in the second half of just catching the ball and going up. Didn’t even try to make a move.”
It also helped that Young found other ways to score. He had a fast-break dunk and then another slam during an 11-0 Florida run that put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.
The spurt began with a Beal 3-pointer and ended with him hitting a layup with 3 minutes, 47 seconds left. UF led 62-47 at that point, and it still hadn’t made a free throw.
Florida won despite top scorer Kenny Boynton scoring only two points. Murphy helped make up for that, scoring 11 points in the first half.
“So hard to defend those four guys, then you’ve got Patric Young ball-screening and rolling,” Stansbury said. “And all those guys who are coming off those ball screens are really good on that bounce, too, now.”
Florida shot 48.2 percent from the field, while State hit 43.8 percent, including 7 of 16 from 3-point range. The Gators outscored MSU in the paint, 28-14.
The Gators committed five turnovers, just one in the second half. MSU committed 14. A big key to that stat was Florida’s pressure, and trying to take the ball away from Bost, MSU’s senior point guard.
“What we did with Bost was we guarded him in pick-and-roll action three different ways,” Donovan said. “And the way that was probably most effective that we did most of the time was we trapped him just to get the ball out of his hands.”
Florida led 30-27 at halftime.
MSU is off until next Saturday, when it hosts Auburn.
brad.locke@journalinc.com