GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Kenny Boynton was gaining confidence with every basket. After the fourth consecutive shot dropped, Boynton felt like he couldn't miss.
A few seconds later, he got a reality check.
Bad shot. Bad miss. Bench.
It was his only mistake in an otherwise stellar performance.
Boynton scored 18 points, half of them coming on three consecutive 3-pointers that changed the game, and the 13th-ranked Gators beat Georgia 71-62 Thursday night.
``He opened up the game,' coach Billy Donovan said. ``Those nine points were huge. That's' what he does. When he all of a sudden makes one and then another one, it's almost like let him shoot. That's who he is.'
Erving Walker added 15 points, and Chandler Parsons chipped in 16 in his return from a thigh injury.
The Gators clinched at least a share of the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division for the first time since 2007 and secured a No. 1 seed in the league's postseason tournament.
``It says a lot about this team,' Boynton said. ``We've grown. Last year, we weren't even close to this position. We came in focused when the SEC started and we're on a mission. We just want to win it all.'
Florida (22-5, 11-2 SEC) has won 14 of its last 16 games, including six in a row. The Gators swept Georgia (18-9, 7-6) for the first time since 2008 and extended their home winning streak against the Bulldogs to nine.
Boynton had a lot to do with the latest victory.
The junior guard scored 12 consecutive points for Florida in the second half. He converted a three-point play on a fast break, then got hot from long range. He hit three straight 3-pointers, essentially shooting Georgia out of its zone defense, and then followed with an assist that put the Gators up 63-53 with 5:09 to play.
Boynton was clearly feeling it. So much so that the next time down, he chucked up another 3 early in the shot clock. Donovan benched him to clear his head, but only briefly.
Georgia turned to Trey Thompkins inside and cut the lead to 63-59 with 3:38 remaining. But Parsons had a clutch putback and the Gators made enough free throws down the stretch to avoid any uneasy moments.
``Nobody in this league is going to lay down,' Thompkins said. ``But we have to learn to respond to things like that and come out ready to play two halves.'
Travis Leslie led the Bulldogs with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. Thompkins finished with 16 points and seven boards.
``They just outworked us in the second half,' Leslie said.
Georgia dominated much of the first half. The Bulldogs shot 60 percent from the field and opened up a double-digit lead, 28-18, on Dustin Ware's 3-pointer with 5:20 remaining. Most of the damage was done inside, with Georgia scoring 20 points in the paint.
Thompkins and Jeremy Price had their way with whatever defense Florida played. Leslie was even more disruptive, breaking down Florida's guards and getting easy buckets in transition. Leslie, one of the most athletic guards in the SEC, had nine points, five rebounds and four assists in the first 20 minutes.
Leslie's three-point play put Georgia ahead 31-20 with 3:24 to play before the break.
But the Gators closed out the first half strong and opened the second half the same way. Parsons was the key early, then Boynton took over.
Parsons, a versatile forward who leads the team in assists and rebounds, sustained a deep thigh bruise against Tennessee two weeks ago. He missed Florida's game at LSU last weekend, but ``worked around the clock to get himself healthy,' Donovan said.
Parsons wore a thigh pad on loan from the football program and his only issue was fatigue from missing several practices.
He made a driving layup late in the first half, then had a dunk and a putback to open the second half. Georgia coach Mark Fox called timeout in hopes of slowing the momentum, but the Gators kept it rolling.
Alex Tyus, who had a nifty putback just before the half to cut the lead to 33-26, hit a jumper and Parsons followed with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
Vernon Macklin, who was quiet in the first half, converted a three-point play to tie the game at 42. Walker sliced through the lane on the next possession and converted an acrobatic layup that put the Gators ahead for the first time since they led 10-8.
Parsons followed with another 3, this one from the elbow. He pounded his chest three times as he backpedaled near midcourt.
Boynton was the one celebrating a few minutes later, shaking his head as he remained uncovered. The Bulldogs could have done the same.
``That's the kind of player he is,' Walker said. ``When he gets it going, there's nobody better. It could just keep going and going and going for him, and he did that tonight.'
The Associated Press News Service
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