Alabama St.-Florida Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- In a bizarre set of circumstances, Florida's season opener was called due to condensation on the court.
That doesn't figure to be a problem again Sunday as the No. 10 Gators take on Alabama State indoors at the O'Connell Center in what will serve as their first official game of the 2012-13 season.
After taking a 27-23 lead into halftime Friday, Florida's matchup against Georgetown aboard the USS Bataan - a navy ship - was stopped after the court became too slippery from the humidity in Jacksonville. The game will not count and will not be made up.
"Everybody would have loved to finish the game, I get it - but the game was secondary," athletic director Jeremy Foley told the school's official website. "What happened on the court did not detract one iota from what happened here tonight; the atmosphere, being part of it, the buzz, the excitement. Every fan out here could not believe what they were a part of, and I know the players felt the same way."
Big man Erik Murphy had seven points while fellow senior Kenny Boynton scored six. Boynton, who averaged 15.9 points last season to rank fourth in the SEC, started at point guard with junior Scottie Wilbekin suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed reason.
"Scottie is a good kid who made some choices and did some things that I'm not going to have him a part of. How long it lasts, I don't know," coach Billy Donovan said before Friday's game.
While Wilbekin's status for Sunday isn't known, Florida isn't likely to get much of a test from Alabama State (0-1) with or without him. The Gators have won 21 consecutive home openers and their last 10 in Gainesville against non-conference opponents by an average of 24.7 points.
The Gators, 6-0 against Southwestern Athletic foes, beat the Hornets 87-60 on Nov. 28, 2005, in the only previous matchup in this series.
Alabama State could have a hard time keeping up again if its season opener is any indication. The Hornets committed 22 turnovers and made just 13-of-27 free throws Friday in a 97-53 rout at the hands of Middle Tennessee.
"Those type things when you are playing on the road you can't afford to do," coach Lewis Jackson told the school's official website. "Middle is a very good ball club and it doesn't get any easier because we got No. 10 Florida on Sunday. We will prepare and look at the film and give it our best effort."
Junior guard Josh Freelove had 12 points but was the only player to reach double figures.
In addition to trying to contain Boynton and Murphy, the Hornets could have their hands full with junior Patric Young. The 6-foot-9 center, who averaged 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds last season, could be asked to take on a bigger role with Bradley Beal (14.8 PPG) and Erving Walker (12.1) no longer around.
"I do think we need to change some things on offense because our team is a little bit different," Donovan said. "Last year, clearly the identity was we could really, really shoot 3s. I think we have a good shooting team, but we probably, with the loss of Walker and Beal, don't have the same depth shooting the ball as we did a year ago."
No team made more 3s than Florida last season, which shot 357 of 939 (38.0 percent) from beyond the arc.
Updated November 10, 2012