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11/18/2012 8:36 PM EST
Gators pull away to rout Middle Tennessee
FLORIDA 66, MIDDLE TENN 45

By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- By the time Kenny Boynton heated up, No. 10
Florida was well on its way to another lopsided victory.



The senior guard scored the final 13 points for the Gators and
put an exclamation mark on a 66-45 rout of Middle Tennessee on
Sunday.



"I kind of felt it late," Boynton said after shrugging off a
slow start to score 20 points and help the Gators (3-0) remain
unbeaten.



"This is one of the most physical teams I've played against in a
long time," Boynton added. "In the end, we're going to benefit
from playing them."



Will Yeguete had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Gators, who
opened the second half with a 14-2 run and never looked back.



Middle Tennessee (2-1) trimmed a 15-point deficit to nine before
Mike Rosario finished a fast break with a dunk and Boynton hit a
3-pointer to put the game away.



Marcos Knight led Middle Tennessee with 12 points and Shawn
Jones added 10 for the Blue Raiders, who played tough,
disruptive defense early and trailed 29-26 at halftime.



"Last year we won at UCLA, we won at Tennessee, we beat Ole Miss
on a neutral-court game in Mississippi. So we come in, we expect
to win these kind of games," Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis
said. "Florida was too good today, and we didn't have enough
guys play well."



Middle Tennessee returned 10 of its top 12 scorers from last
season, when the Blue Raiders went 27-7 on the way to the
quarterfinals of the NIT.



Sunday was the team's first game against a ranked team since a
75-54 loss to Tennessee on Dec. 11, 2009.



"I thought we competed. We came in thinking a critical stat was
going to be rebounding, and we ended up outrebounding them in
the second half," Davis said. "That's a good team. They're well
put together, obviously. Extremely well coached, and they've
just got every part. They've got shooters, they've got bigs,
they've got experience."



The bigger, stronger Gators turned up the defensive pressure in
the second half, limiting the Blue Raiders to 27 percent
shooting after the break. Middle Tennessee missed seven of eight
shots while the Gators were taking control over an eight-minute
stretch.



Patric Young had nine points and 10 rebounds for Florida, which
led by three at the half despite shooting 39 percent and not
getting much offensive production from its top two scorers, Erik
Murphy and Boynton, who began game needing four points to move
ahead of Dwayne Schintzius into sixth-place on the school's
career scoring list.



"In the first half, their guards were really pressuring our
guards, and they were out in the passing lanes, so they had the
floor very, very much extended," Florida coach Billy Donovan
said. "We got the ball inside a few times and our post guys did
not do a great job of finishing plays, or even making plays for
that matter."



Murphy, coming off shooting 10-for-10 and scoring a career-best
24 in an 18-point win over No. 22 Wisconsin, didn't even attempt
a shot until making a 3-pointer midway through the opening half.
He finished 2 of 4 with six points, well below the 19.7 he
averaged in the Gators' first two games.



Boynton, averaging 16, missed his first four shots and didn't
score until making a pair of free throws with just over a minute
to play in the half.



The senior guard finished with a flourish, though, delivering
three 3-pointers and two more free throws to eliminate any hopes
Middle Tennessee had of rallying.



"I just thought that our flow offensively was disrupted ... with
the amount of contact, how physical it was. I thought in the
second half we really, really made a huge emphasis to say, `OK,
if they're going to put all the pressure out there, then we're
left playing one-on-one in the post. ... It was a grind-out
game. Overall, I thought the presence up front in the second
half was the difference."



After their scheduled season opener against Georgetown was
canceled because of poor court conditions aboard the USS Bataan
docked in Jacksonville, the Gators returned home to begin with
lopsided wins over Alabama State and Wisconsin, which led the
nation in scoring defense last season.



Florida made six 3-pointers against the Badgers and seven more
against Middle Tennessee, which was 2 of 10 from behind the arc
on the way to shooting 32 percent for the game.



Meanwhile, the Gators went 10 of 17 from the field (58.8
percent) to warm up to 46.7 percent overall.



Neither team led by more than six before Boynton made a driving
layup for his first field goal, then added a free throw to
complete a 3-point play that put Florida up 37-28 with a little
less than 15 minutes left.



Boynton finished 5 of 12 from the field - including 3 for 7 on
3-point attempts - and made all seven of his free throws.



"He's a guy you've got to account for out there, even though he
didn't have a bucket or a field goal in the first half," Donovan
said. "But in the second half, that's what he can do. He can put
together spurts like that where he can open up a game."

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