Jacksonville starts flat, falls to Florida 86-60
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren wanted a fast start.
He got the complete opposite.
Casey Prather scored 27 points, Michael Frazier II added 17 and No. 15 Florida handled Jacksonville 86-60 Monday night.
The Gators (5-1) won their fourth consecutive game following a loss at 10th-ranked Wisconsin two weeks ago. The latest victory was a final tuneup before the team's toughest stretch of the season - games against Florida State, Connecticut, Kansas and Memphis.
The Dolphins missed 15 of their first 21 shots, fell behind by as many as 18 points in the first half and never recovered.
''At the beginning of the game, unfortunately, we didn't pay attention to detail defensively,'' Warren said. ''Florida made some high-percentage shots. Frazier got two open looks to start the game and other guys scored inside.
''We need to execute better. Tonight was not a good game for us. Our guys are distraught. They know they didn't give their best effort for 40 minutes.''
Jarvis Haywood led the Dolphins (2-4) with 16 points. Vince Martin added 11 points and 10 boards.
''My individual effort doesn't matter because we're a team and we didn't come out on top,'' Haywood said. ''I don't look at individual results, just how we do as a team and what the results are.''
Florida's Scottie Wilbekin made his season debut and finished with 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and just two turnovers. Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the visitors. Patric Young chipped in 13 points.
Wilbekin was suspended the first five games of the season and an exhibition for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
He was instrumental in getting Florida's offense in rhythm early. The Gators led 16-5 after Frazier's second 3-pointer and made it 28-10 on Jacob Kurtz's layup. Wilbekin's driving layup with 6:05 remaining in the half was his first bucket of the season. His runner in the lane just before the buzzer put Florida ahead 48-29 at the break.
''He opened up a lot of things for our team,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
The Gators started the second half much like they did the first, using a 10-4 spurt to turn a double-digit lead into a lopsided affair.
Warren, though, found some positives from the second half.
''I thought we fought a little better, we played with a little more pride and paid attention to details,'' Warren said.
The Gators shot 59.6 percent from the floor and were 8-of-13 from 3-point range. They missed 12 free throws and gave up 16 offensive rebounds. But made up for those miscues with 19 assists, seven steals and four blocked shots.
Florida also benefited from near-perfect games from Prather and Frazier. Prather made 11 of 13 shots. Frazier was 5-of-6 shooting, all from behind the arc.
About the only thing to really go wrong for Donovan's team was another injury. Guard DeVon Walker hurt his right foot early in the game and did not return.
The Gators already are playing without point guard Kasey Hill, who is sideline at least a month because of a high-ankle sprain. Center Damonte Harris also is out, still suspended indefinitely. Guard Eli Carter (broken leg) and forward Will Yeguete (knee surgery) are recovering from injuries.
Wilbekin's return was much needed.
''I'm just glad to put that stuff behind me,'' he said in his first public comments since his suspension. ''It was great to be out there playing, back with my teammates. I'm just looking forward to moving past the suspension. I'm not looking back. I think I've really matured a lot as a person and I've grown. And in some ways, this suspension was probably the best thing that could ever happen to me because I've learned a lot over the summer.
''I really think I've progressed a lot as a person.''
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