Three* games, two wins and one lesson learned apparently.
Scottie Wilbekin, written in as the starting point guard at the beginning of the season, was suspended for games against Georgetown, Alabama State and Wisconsin for a violation of team rules.
As announced by head coach Billy Donovan earlier today, the Gainesville native has been reinstated but will come off the bench on Sunday when the Gators take on a Middle Tennessee team that’s one of the early favorites in the Sun Belt.
“I don’t believe in having a doghouse,” Donovan said. “To me, he starts fresh and clean. I’d be making a mistake as a coach to be constantly holding onto that. I’m expecting him to move on.”
While Florida beat both Alabama State and Wisconsin by comfortable margins the turnover count in the win over the Badgers was a concern. The Gators turned the ball over 20 times and tallied just nine assists in the 74-56 victory, which was highlighted by the 24 points (10-of-10 FG) scored by Erik Murphy.
Adding Wilbekin to the fold allows Kenny Boynton to move off the ball, which is a more natural position for him. Boynton (three assists, three turnovers) and Mike Rosario (four assists, four turnover) both broke even in regards to their assist-to-turnover ratio against Wisconsin.
The biggest offenders in regards to turnovers on that night were forwards Will Yeguete and Patric Young (zero assists and nine turnovers). Adding another ball-handler to the rotation will help the Gators, especially considering their opponent on Sunday.
Kermit Davis’ squad won 27 games last season and returns four starters (all of whom are seniors), most notably 6-2 guard Marcos Knight and 6-8 forward JT Sulton. Knight (12.5 ppg) and Jason Jones Jr. (10.0 ppg) are the lone Blue Raiders averaging double figures through two games, but seven Middle Tennessee players average at least six points per contest.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)