Wright St.-Florida Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- Florida's Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker have the potential to make up one the more explosive backcourts in the country.
While Boynton has started the season strong, Walker finally seems to be picking up the pace.
The dynamic duo looks to build on its latest effort as the No. 10 Gators face Wright State on Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
While Boynton is averaging a team-best 18.0 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the floor, Walker has been held to just 10.3 per game. The senior guard struggled in Tuesday's 81-74 loss to No. 3 Ohio State, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Walker, though, bounced back in impressive fashion, recording season highs of 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in Thursday's 91-55 rout of North Florida. Coach Billy Donovan is clearly expecting big things from Walker, who made 3 of 4 from 3-point range in the second half.
"I think Erving Walker his whole entire life has been a fighter and I don't think because he's a senior he can stop fighting," Donovan said. "I really challenged him in the second half in the locker room and I thought in the second half he competed and he went back to having that fight in him. We need him to have that fight because I think that impacts the rest of our team."
Boynton also came up big, scoring a season-high 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting. He earned high praise on his much-improved all-around game.
"He's really made some great steps and I've seen improvement every year since he's been here," Donovan said of the star junior. "He came in as a prolific scorer, and that's kind of what he knew. Last year, he had a better understanding of shot selection and extra passing. Right now, he's really done a nice job of assist-to-turnover ratio, driving it and not just relying on a 3, getting in the lane, mid-range jumpers. He's starting to add some different things to his game."
While the Gators' average of 88.0 points leaves little to be desired, their effort from the free-throw line certainly needs improvement. Florida is shooting just 56.9 percent at the foul line - significantly lower than its mark of 66.9 percent from 2010-11.
The Gators have never faced Wright State but are 3-1 all-time against teams from the Horizon League. Their only loss was a 74-71 overtime defeat to Butler in the regional finals of last season's NCAA tournament.
The Raiders (2-1), who suffered a season-opening 73-42 loss to No. 3 Ohio State, have since recorded back-to-back victories. After defeating Division III Kenyon 80-56 on Nov. 13, Wright State recorded an ugly 56-39 victory over Jackson State on Wednesday.
The Raiders shot a season-low 31.4 percent from the floor but held the Tigers to an even worse 26.2 percent. Freshman guard Reggie Arceneaux scored a season-high 15 points while Armond Battle had 10.
Wright State has dropped nine straight matchups versus ranked opponents by an average of 14.5 points since beating then-No. 13 Butler 43-42 on Dec. 8, 2007.
Updated November 21, 2011