GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kenny Boynton scored a season-high 24 points, Scottie Wilbekin added a career-best 17 and No. 7 Florida beat UCF 79-66 Friday.
The Gators (5-0) overcame a sluggish start, dominated the paint and pressed the Knights (3-2) into a bevy of turnovers.
Boynton and Wilbekin benefited from the mismatches down low.
Boynton, three days after spraining his left ankle, made 7 of 15 shots and added eight rebounds. Wilbekin, playing his third game since returning from suspension, chipped in five rebounds and eight assists – both career highs.
Kasey Wilson led the Knights with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He was 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Tristan Spurlock (14), Isaiah Sykes (12) and Keith Clanton (11) also hit double figures for Central Florida.
For Florida, Wilbekin played extensively in place of starter Mike Rosario, who turned the ball over several times. Wilbekin was slated to be the team's starting point guard before the season, but was suspended three games for violating an unspecified team rule.
He provided a big spark Friday.
Reserve Casey Prather was equally impressive.
Prather made his season debut after missing four games because of concussions and finished with eight points and four boards. He sustained two concussions over a nine-day span in practice leading up to the opener, and the Gators have been cautious with his return.
Prather's opener got off to a shaky start, though.
He played a couple of minutes in the first half before heading to the locker room with what looked like a gash below his lower lip. He returned in the second half with a bandage and played with the kind of energy that made him a capable backup and a crowd favorite last season. His reverse dunk with 3:36 remaining provided an exclamation point on a strong debut.
The Gators missed their first 10 shots, but got things going from the 3-point line. Boynton hit one and Wilbekin made three from behind the arc. Wilbekin's last one came during an 11-0 run that turned a tight game into a double-digit lead.
Florida led 42-24 at halftime, but UCF got back into the game with a strong start to open the second half.
The Knights used an 11-0 run, highlighted by consecutive 3s from Wilson and Spurlock, to get it back to single digits.
But Florida coach Billy Donovan called a timeout and settled his team down. The Gators went inside and got a bucket from Patric Young, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds, and then pulled away from there.
Florida shot 42.6 percent from the field, hitting just 10 of 33 shots from 3-point range, but was effective inside. The Gators finished with 38 points in the paint, many of them coming off UCF's 19 turnovers.