After their season opener was cut short at halftime, the 10th-ranked Florida Gators will take on the Alabama State Hornets at the O'Connell Center in their second attempt at a season opener.
Alabama State actually got to play a whole game on Friday, but the results weren't what it was looking for as it fell on the road to Middle Tennessee, 97-53. The Hornets picked up right where they left off following a disappointing 12-19 campaign a year ago.
Florida took to the outdoor court aboard the U.S.S. Bataan in Jacksonville on Friday night to play Georgetown, and things went smoothly for the first 20 minutes, but the game was canceled at the half once the court became unplayable due to slippery conditions because of condensation. It was one of two outdoor games on the east coast on Friday that needed to be canceled because of the same situation.
The Gators defeated the Hornets, 87-60, on Nov. 28, 2005 in the only previous meeting between the two. Florida is 6-0 all-time against teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Alabama State came out of the gates strong against Middle Tennessee, connecting on 10-of-21 field goal attempts, including 4-of-8 from three-point range in the first half, but by game's end it finished with a woeful .362 field goal percentage. In fact, the Hornets committed five more turnovers (22) than field goals made (17). If that wasn't bad enough, they could not stop the Blue Raiders, who made 33-of-68 field goal attempts and went to the foul line 29 times. Only one player tallied double digits for Alabama State as Joshua Freelove scored 12 points in 29 minutes of action. It was his first game as a Hornet following a transfer from Lewis and Clark Community College. Luther Page contributed seven points and three blocked shots, and he is expected to have an increased role this season after averaging just 3.1 ppg during the 2011-12 campaign.
Although in the end none of the statistics from the canceled game will count, Florida showed plenty of promise on Friday night, shooting 45.5 percent from the field while holding Georgetown to 35.7 percent as it took a 27-23 lead into halftime. Will Yeguete put up a team-high eight points, which was nearly double his scoring average from last season, and Kenny Boynton scored six points and dished out three assists, but he also had four turnovers. Boynton (15.9 ppg in 2011-12) is one of the best players in the SEC and is expected to be a huge factor in whether or not the Gators make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Erik Murphy (10.5 ppg), Patric Young (10.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 61.8 FG%), Mike Rosario (6.6 ppg) and Yeguete will continue to be mainstays in the starting lineup. Braxton Ogbueze (6-0, 182) was one of the top point guard prospects in last season's recruiting class, but he saw just four minutes of action in the opener, and it appears for now that the team will go forward with Boynton as the primary ball-handler.