Rider heads to Sunshine State to tangle with No. 12 FloridaDec 9, 2011 - 3:36 PM Jacksonville, FL (Sports Network) - The 12th-ranked Florida Gators make the short trip to Jacksonville this evening, for a non-conference matchup with the Rider Broncs at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
Billy Donovan's Gators are 6-2 on the young season, with the two losses coming against top-five foes in Ohio State (81-74) and Syracuse (72-68). Florida was able to put some distance between itself and the loss to the Orange, with a 78-72 overtime win against Arizona this week.
Tommy Dempsey's Broncs have struggled out of the gate with losses in eight of their first nine games. The team's lone victory came against Howard (74-72) and is sandwiched between a pair of four-game losing streaks. Last time out, Rider dropped to 0-2 in MAAC action with a 95-75 rout at the hands of Marist.
This marks the first meeting between these two programs on the hardwood.
The Broncs have struggled with offensive consistency this season and coupled with a porous defensive effort, the result is an ugly 1-8 start to the year. Opponents are averaging 81.4 ppg and are shooting the ball well from all over the floor, hitting 48.6 percent overall and 42.3 percent from behind the arc. Forward Daniel Stewart is Rider's top player, leading the way both in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg). Guards Jeff Jones and Anthony Myles provide some scoring depth at 13.1 and 11.1 ppg. respectively. It was once again a lack of effort at the defensive end that led to Rider's demise at Marist, as the Red Foxes were allowed to shoot 56.6 percent from the field, including 65 percent from behind the arc (13-of-20). The Broncs shot 48.4 percent from the floor in the game, but were just 1-of-14 from long range in the 20-point loss. It spoiled a terrific performance by Stewart, who was 9- of-11 shooting, finishing with 22 points. Dera Nd-Ezuma poured in 14 points, while Brandon Penn and Jonathan Thompson finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Florida was able to rally from a seven-point deficit with under eight minutes left in the second half to force overtime and than outlast Arizona for a six- point victory in Gainesville. Patric Young led the way with his third double- double of the season, posting a career-high 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Erving Walker added 14 points to the cause, while Mike Rosario came off the bench to tally 10. Florida held a 47-35 rebounding advantage and grabbed 22 offensive boards in the game. The Gators rank in the top five nationally in scoring (86.4 ppg) and a big reason for that is the use of the three-pointer. The Gators are third nationally with 88 treys on the season (11.0 per game). Scoring depth is obvious, with five players currently averaging double figures, including four starters. Kenny Boynton leads the way at 17.8 ppg and is the team's top sniper (27 three-pointers, .443 accuracy). Bradley Beal is next in line at 14.8 ppg, followed by Walker (14.1 ppg), Young (11.5 ppg) and Rosario (10.5 ppg).
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