Florida Basketball: Kenny Boynton is Holding the Gators Back

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If Florida is to restore its winning ways — the unforgiving, take-no-prisoners play that made the team a popular championship favorite in January — Kenny Boynton must retrieve the shot that’s abandoned his game.

Otherwise, he’ll have to abandon the shot instead.

The all-time Gators 3-point king is shooting less than 33-percent from behind the arc this season, down eight-percent from last year’s clip. Worse, yet his shooting isn’t trending in the right direction. After a hot shooting month to start his senior season, Boynton has since gone ice cold. Excluding an anomalous 8-for-10 effort against Yale in the non-conference, he is shooting a paltry 27-percent (36-for-135) over the last three months and just 30-percent in SEC play.

Feb 19, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Florida Gators guard Kenny Boynton (1) dribbles the ball downcourt against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

One common thread to Florida’s recent struggles (other than the absence of Will Yeguete): Boynton’s poor shooting. Over UF’s last eight games, which include a trio of road losses to unranked opponents, the talented guard has connected on only 12 of his 50 3-point attempts.

Ironically, despite being moved off the ball to make room for rising junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, Boynton has become a better distributor during the course of the season as his shooting has slacked. He isn’t taking so many ill-advised shots — he isn’t sinking so many open ones either — but the distribution of the shots he has taken has been a recurring issue. More than 62-percent of Boynton’s shots this season have come from long range, the highest rate of any regular, non-shooting specialist in the conference.

In a word, Boynton has become a gunner, and not an accurate one. What’s worse, his accuracy in crunch time is among the worst in the sport. Boynton is shooting a vile 8-percent from 3-point range and just 26-percent from outside the paint in “close and late” situations — defined as any possession occurring in the final five minutes of the game when the scoring margin if five points or fewer in either favor. Don’t tell that to Kenny though. The senior leader has taken 45-percent of his teams shots in those such situations.

The only thing worse than a player who consistently misses big shots is a player who consistently (i.e., defiantly) hoists them up amid long shooting slumps.

Thanks to Boynton’s trigger-happy tendencies, the Gators have largely ignored a front line that stands as the stoutest in the SEC. Patric Young’s usage rate (21.7-percent) is well lower than it should be. One of the most dominant interior players in all the land, Young owns only the 32nd highest rate in the SEC (788th nationally). Figure that out.

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