American hangs with Florida but falls 76-60

By Adam Silverstein
December 28, 2009

Redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin led his team with a dominant post presence and career-high 18 points as the newly unranked Florida Gators (9-3) defeated the visiting American Eagles (2-11) 76-60 on Monday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Though Florida came away victorious, an overall lackluster performance allowed American to hang with them throughout the game; the Eagles even closed the Gators’ lead to single digits after being down as much as 23 at one point in the game.

Florida dominated American in the paint as junior forward Alex Tyus bested his frontcourt mate Macklin with a game- and season-high 20 points. Freshman guard Kenny Boynton had one of the best performances of his young career from beyond the arc, going 4-of-7 (7-for-15 overall) for 19 points. Tyus also led the team with eight rebounds, while sophomore point guard Erving Walker dished out six assists.

The Gators once again struggled defending the three, allowing the Eagles to shoot 41.7 percent from downtown. Just a few weeks ago, Florida led the nation in three-point defense; they have since appeared lackadaisical when defending the three while simultaneously shooting poorly from beyond the arc. The latter was corrected Monday as the Gators shot 40 percent (6-of-15) from three as well as 45.2 percent from the field.

As a result of the team’s defensive struggles, head coach Billy Donovan held his players in the locker room for almost 20 minutes after the contest to go over game tape. “[Coach Donovan] was really disappointed about how we guarded the three-point line in the second half,” Tyus said. “We left too many guys open.”

G Nick Hendra and F Vlad Moldoveanu led American with 15 and 14 points, respectively, and Hendra also added a game-high 13 rebounds to his performance.

Florida’s last game of 2009 is scheduled for Wednesday when they will take on the Presbyterian Blue Hose (2-11) at 7 p.m. in the O’Dome.

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