GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No. 10 Florida rolled past over-matched Jackson State Friday in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, as two new players made it clear they'll play big roles this season.
Heralded freshman Bradley Beal made his first collegiate game memorable, hitting his first three shots on his way to a 14-point night. Beal, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard who was ESPNU's fifth overall prospect in the Class of 2011, started with a driving bank-shot, a high-flying dunk and a 3-pointer in what ended up being a slightly off shooting performance (5-of-10 from the floor, 1-of-6 from 3-point range).
"It was really shell-shocking at first, just 'cause it was the first game," Beal said. "I'm not really worried about how I shot the ball. We won the game. That's what's most important to me."
The Gators' leading scorers were Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, who poured in 19 points apiece.
Rosario, who came off the bench, is another new face for Florida. The Rutgers transfer sat out all of last season after being the ninth-leading scorer in the Big East (16.7 ppg) as a sophomore in 2009-10.
"It's been a long time for me," Rosario said. "A lot of hard work last year, me not playing last year and having an opportunity to play this year, I'm just happy to be a Gator."
Player of the game: It would be easy to give the honor to Boynton or Rosario, who were deadly accurate on their 3-point bombs. But sophomore center Patric Young gets the nod for his yeoman's work in the paint. Young registered his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Stat of the game: Florida out-rebounded Jackson State 44-29, and it was a team effort. Other than Young's 10 boards and Will Yeguete's seven rebounds, all but one of the other nine Gators had two rebounds or more.
What did we learn? Florida had Jackson State outclassed and out-manned, so insights were few. It’s clear the Gators will benefit from having four guards who can run the point in Erving Walker, Boynton, Rosario and Scotty Wilbekin. The Gators showed a lot of hustle, even when the score got out of hand. Coach Billy Donovan clearly wants to establish his team’s identity with its motion offense and full-court press. Florida’s defense harassed the Tigers all night to the tune of 11 steals and 23 turnovers.
Noteworthy: Florida has won 21 straight season-openers. Friday's 40-point victory was the most lopsided outcome in that streak. ... Florida jumped out to a 17-3 lead with 15 of those points coming from its new three-guard starting lineup of Walker, Boynton and Beal. ... In the first 10 minutes, the Gator offense was brutally efficient, shooting 14-of-19 from the floor (73.7 percent) and 4-of-7 from 3-point range. ... There was no let-up for Florida after its big first half, as the Gators went on a 15-0 run in the first three minutes of the second half to take a 74-23 lead.