- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan has talked all season about Patric Young, Will Yeguete and Erik Murphy being in new roles and needing time to adjust. Young and Murphy are starters for the first time, and Yeguete is playing considerably more minutes than he did last season.
Point guard Erving Walker is going through something similar, and it looks like the senior from Brooklyn may be close to having it down.
Walker had nine assists and only one turnover in the Gators' come-from-behind victory at Ole Miss on Thursday night. He made good decisions with the ball and several times drove the lane and dished to Young or Beal for easy dunks. Walker also scored 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting.
"He was great," Donovan told the school's website after the game. "I thought he made some terrific decisions with dump-down passes to Patric and some great plays to get guys open 3-point shots. That's his role, and he was at his best tonight."
The role is this: Don't worry about scoring. We've got plenty of guys that can score. Take care of the basketball, get guys good shots and run the offense.
It's a different role from the previous two seasons. Walker had to score on the perimeter because the UF's options there were limited to himself and Kenny Boynton. But with transfer Mike Rosario, freshman Brad Beal and the improved Murphy as weapons from the 3-point line, Walker doesn't have to shoulder as much of the burden. It has taken him a while to get used to that, though.
In UF's first 15 games, Walker averaged 10 shots per game. In the Gators' five SEC games, he is averaging 7.2 shots per game. He's averaging one less turnover per game in SEC play and he has turned the ball over more than twice just one time in the five games.
Donovan wants Walker to shoot if he's got a good shot -- he'll always have that green light -- but making sure someone else gets a better shot is something Walker should be thinking about more. And it looks like he is.
Saturday's game against Mississippi State, however, will be another test of that for the 13th-ranked Gators (16-4, 4-1 SEC) and Walker. The 16th-ranked Bulldogs (17-4, 4-2) are 10th in the league in field-goal percentage defense (47.8) and 11th in 3-point field-goal percentage defense (43.4) in conference play. Those numbers suggest that Walker should get plenty of open looks, but will he pass them up in favor of getting someone else an even better look?