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January 3, 2011With a strong first-half performance sparked by Chandler Parsons' best game of the year, the Florida Gators erased any doubt about the outcome against Rhode Island in the first half in their final game before conference play.
Parsons broke out of a recent offensive slump with a double-double and a season-high 18 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
"I'm just trying to play every game, help my team (with) whatever I can do," he said. "It's always good to go out there and knock down some shots. I'm going to continue to shoot the ball with confidence and play like I know how to play."
His improved play helped spark a strong shooting performance from Florida. The Gators finished shooting 47 percent from the floor on 31-66 shooting in an 84-59 win over the Runnin' Rams.
The Gators' ball security also improved noticeably in the first half. Turnovers had plagued the team in the first half over the past few games, but Florida committed just five in the first half Monday.
"We're getting better there," head coach Billy Donovan said of the turnovers. "We're moving in the right direction. We've got to try to build off of this and keep getting better."
The improved decision-making helped the Gators get more clean shots and get into an offensive rhythm. They capitalized early and often, using a 22-2 run in the first half to blow the game open. The 84 points scored were the second-most this season, behind a 105-point outing against NC A&T.
Florida also defended the three-point line well, something Donovan credited the win to. Coming into Monday's game, Rhode Island had shot 38 percent from beyond the arc. Florida held the Rams to just 17 percent on 4-23 shooting.
"I thought offensively this was a pretty explosive team," Donovan said. "I thought it was going to be a great challenge for us defensively. I thought we played a pretty complete game. We defended very well."
Erving Walker had another good shooting performance for Florida, connecting on 3-6 three-point shots and scoring 14 points. He finished with five assists and four turnovers and was one of four Florida players that finished in double figures scoring.
Kenny Boynton and Alex Tyus each scored 10 for the Gators.
True freshman Patric Young earned his first start of the season in place of Vernon Macklin, who was nursing a shoulder injury. Young finished with eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
"I wanted to come out there and make sure I gave energy and didn't act like it was my first start," he said. "Things turned out for the best tonight."
Limited by his shoulder injury, Macklin scored six points and pulled down three rebounds in 22 minutes.
Sophomore forward Erik Murphy missed the game with a mid-foot sprain that he suffered in practice. He is expected to be out at least five to 10 days with the injury.
Will Yeguete also left the game early with an injury. He injured his groin or hip flexor trying to take a charge, Donovan said.
Florida finished non-conference play with an 11-3 record. The Gators face Ole Miss at home on Saturday at 8 p.m.