Billy Donovan wanted to send Patric Young a message. Young heard him loud and clear.
Coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 2, Young was a force in No. 7 Florida’s 82-49 win against Marquette on Thursday in the O’Connell Center.
The junior center scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, notched three blocks and tallied three assists in a season-low 22 minutes.
“He just told me that he’s going to punish me for the game and teach me a lesson,” Young said. “It definitely worked.”
Citing Young’s disruptive attitude, Donovan removed the center from UF’s starting five.
Scottie Wilbekin stepped into the lineup at point guard, starting for the first time this season.
Donovan demoted Young to Florida’s second team during Wednesday’s practice.
Young checked into the game at the 15:19 mark of the first half.
“I feel like my job as a coach is to bring out the best in Patric Young as a player,” Donovan said.
Against a deep and physical Marquette squad, Florida dove for balls, crashed the boards, drew charges and pinned layups.
The nation’s No. 2 scoring defense hustled.
Florida (6-0) held Marquette (5-2) to 41.2 percent shooting.
“We were really on our defense [Thursday night], because offensively, you’re not always going to make shots,” junior forward Will Yeguete said.
“Coach [Billy Donovan] is really trying to make us guard every time, every single day in practice. We did a really good job staying focused.”
UF eliminated Marquette’s offensive balance. The Golden Eagles came into Thursday’s game averaging 76.5 points per game.
Aside from guard Vander Blue (20 points), no Golden Eagle scored more than six points. Florida held Marquette’s leading scorer, 6-foot-8, 290-pound forward Davante Gardner, to six points and one rebound.
The Gators had balanced scoring, with six players in double-figure points.
Guard Michael Frazier II gave UF a boost off the bench.
The freshman guard scored a team-high 17 points and made five of his eight three-pointers, including four in the first half.
“I don’t really know when I started feeling it,” Frazier said. “I kept shooting when I was open. My teammates did a great job of feeding me, and shots just went down.”
Yeguete and Casey Prather each chipped in 11 points for the Gators.
Senior guard Kenny Boynton, Florida’s leading scorer with 16.2 points per game before Thursday’s contest, had a quiet night offensively, scoring six points on 2-of-11 shooting.
The contest was a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16. The Gators defeated the Golden Eagles 68-58 in that game to advance to the Elite Eight.
Both teams were both sloppy on offense during the opening minutes.
During the first 10 minutes, the teams shot a combined 12 for 27 from the field.
Florida used an 8-0 run late in the first half to enter halftime with a 38-24 lead.
UF held the Golden Eagles to 37.9 percent shooting in the first period.
The Gators opened the second half with a 9-0 run to put the contest out of reach.
UF’s 6-0 start is Donovan’s fifth in his 17-year tenure with the Gators.
“[Marquette is] a good team, but it’s still November, and there’s time to grow and develop,” Donovan said. “It’s a good thing we play these kinds of games, but I’m not so sure we’re that many points better than everybody.”