Gainesville, FL – Kenny Boynton returned from a sprained left ankle to record a game-high 24 points with eight rebounds and the No. 7 Florida Gators cruised to a 79-66 decision over UCF at O'Connell Center.
Scottie Wilbekin posted 17 points, eight assists and three steals for the Gators (5-0), who look to go undefeated in the first six games of a season for the first time since 2009 when they host Marquette next Thursday.
"Some games, if we don't come out with a better defensive mentality, we may not be able to fight off other teams late," said Boynton about his team, which is trying to fend off a poor defensive reputation. "We were lucky tonight."
Kasey Wilson had 20 points for the Knights (3-2), who have dropped two in a row and are off until a Dec. 1 meeting with Florida Tech. Tristan Spurlock scored 14 points, while Isaiah Sykes totaled 12 with nine rebounds, six assists and eight turnovers in defeat.
"I was proud of our guys tonight," UCF head coach Donnie Jones said. "I was really proud of the kids; how they competed, especially more in the second half than in the first half."
UCF scored the game's first five points, but Florida snapped back to attention with a 24-7 burst ending inside of nine minutes left in the half. Wilbekin began the run with a trey and Boynton connected from long distance to put the Gators ahead for good at 6-5.
Wilbekin added two more triples in the clip, totaling 11 in all. Will Yeguete and Boynton sank back-to-back jumpers for a 24-12 margin with 8:23 left in the half.
The Gators' lead expanded to as much as 19, on a Michael Frazier trey which made it 40-21, before Wilbekin's layup off the break gave the hosts a 42-24 margin at intermission.
UCF was able to trim its deficit to seven early in the second half, when Spurlock's shot from beyond the arc capped an 11-0 run. However, Patrick Young completed a three-point play and Boynton drained a trey to boost Florida's lead back up to 13.
Daiquan Walker's long-distance make pulled the Knights to 55-45 with 13:44 to go, but the hosts sprinted back out to an 18-point edge courtesy of a Casey Prather bucket just over four minutes later.
The Knights had nothing in the tank from there.
Florida has won 10 of the 11 meetings ... Patric Young added 10 points, five rebounds and two steals for the Gators ... Thanks to Sykes' unsure ball- handing, UCF committed 19 turnovers to just nine for Florida ... The schools combined to connect on 21-of-53 shots from three-point range.