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Young leads Gators past Wildcats in OT

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's Patric Young had a monster night Wednesday in the Gators' 78-72 overtime victory over Arizona (6-3) at the O'Connell Center.

He scored a career-high 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked two shots and had two assists in front of 10,531. He made 12 of 15 shots from the floor, including a critical putback at the end of regulation that allowed the 12th-ranked Gators (6-2) to survive Arizona's Solomon Hill making three free throws to force overtime.

It was undoubtedly the best all-around game the 6-foot-9, 247-pound sophomore center has played.

"My whole tenure being here, I haven't really done too much offensively in the post to make teams come in and try to keep me out of my game," Young said. "Tonight I established that, and I'm really thankful that my teammates were able to find me. Maybe I won't get the opportunity again. I'm just going to make the most of the one I had tonight."

But as good as it was, UF coach Billy Donovan said it could have been even better.

Had guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton not tried to take over the game offensively and instead made more of an effort to get the ball inside to Young, he could have been writing his name in the school's record book.

Walker and Boynton combined to go 5-of-27 from the field, including 2-of-15 from 3-point range. Walker scored 14 points, which was right at his average, but that was because he made seven free throws. Boynton scored a season-low nine points, 10 fewer than his season average. It was the first time this season he scored fewer than 13 points.

They also combined for six of UF's 10 turnovers.

"This was a game where Patric Young should have taken 40 shots in the game," Donovan said. "Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton need to do a better job of reading what's going on inside the game. Although their intentions of wanting to win the game and feeling like they need to do something [offensively], we should have just played out of Patric Young the whole entire night. He had 25 points. He should have had 45 points. We should have got the ball to him much, much more than we did. There's got to be a better understanding."

That is one trait UF's back-to-back title teams had, Donovan said. Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey and Corey Brewer used to joke around before games about which one of them the opposing team would try to take away.

The thing was, Donovan said, it never mattered, because the other four were smart enough to realize what was happening and would just run the offense through the others. If the game plan was to double Horford and Noah down low, Green and Humphrey would work the perimeter. If teams tried to take away the perimeter, it was a feast for Horford and Noah in the post and for Brewer on drives to the basket.

Boynton and Walker are still struggling with that, Donovan said.

"You can't guard it all," he said. "But we've got to have an understanding of what's going on and take advantage of that."

Young took advantage of his considerable size advantage inside against the smaller Wildcats, who played just one player bigger than Young. Kyryl Natyazhko is 6-11, but he played just two minutes.

Young scored on dunks and layups, some coming off post feeds and others coming off offensive rebounds. Every time he got the ball in the post, he looked for the double-team.

When it didn't come, he put the ball on the floor and muscled his way to the basket.

And even though he did it against a smaller lineup, it was an important step for Young because it proves to opponents that he can get the job done offensively. Teams might think twice about trying to defend him one-on-one all the time.

"They just played me one-on-one tonight, and I was just lucky that my teammates were able to find me and I was able to finish a lot of shots," Young said. "Maybe next game against Rider [on Friday], they're going to check that off the list on the scouting report and maybe I'll get double-teamed and our guards will have a great game."

Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at espndirocco@gmail.com or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.