Florida players don't talk about wins any more. They talk about taking teams to their knees … in the first few minutes of games.
"Rip your heart out,'' said guard Kenny Boynton, who matched Mike Rosario's 15 points in a 75-36 win against South Carolina on Wednesday night that ran fourth-ranked Florida's season-high winning streak to nine.
"We want to take teams' hearts out in the first four minutes of games,'' added Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin. "I think that was our best defensive effort this year.
Which is saying a lot.
"Our guys are getting better,'' UF coach Billy Donovan said of the press defense that is giving opponents fits. "They are understanding rotations (better) and things.''
Florida (17-2, 7-0 SEC) is becoming a defensive team that forces opponents to hold on for dear life at the start of games — blowing away one SEC team after another.
The Gators held the Gamecocks to their lowest point total in an SEC game in school history. The Gamecocks' previous low in a conference game was 40 vs. Kentucky in 1999. The fewest points Florida allowed in a game in the shot clock era was 27 vs. Southern in 2008.
"They're real good,'' South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "The more I studied them on tape, the more I realized there's a reason they've played as well as they have this year. When they play here in this building they take it to even another level.''
Florida's defense set the tempo from the outset. South Carolina (12-8, 2-5) made three of 21 field goal attempts in the opening 20 minutes and trailed 33-10 at the break.
The Gators shot 52.8 percent and turned the ball over 12 times, compared to 31.1 and 17 for the Gamecocks.
None of the Gators' first seven SEC opponents have scored more than 52 points.