Updated at: 12/29/2012 5:07 PM
By STEVEN WINE
(AP) SUNRISE, Fla. - Kenny Boynton snapped a shooting slump Saturday with three 3-pointers in the second half, when No. 14 Florida pulled away to beat Air Force 78-61 in the second game of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.
Boynton had made only 4 of 32 from 3-point range over the previous five games, but he hit three in a span of 8 minutes to break the game open. The Gators used their superior size and smothering defense to grind down the Falcons, who shot 48 percent in the first half and 33 percent in the second half.
Florida (9-2) won for only the second time in the past four games. Air Force (8-3) fell to 2-77 against ranked teams.
Florida State beat Tulsa 82-63 in the first game of the one-day event.
Boynton, who ranks third in career 3-pointers made at Florida with 282, went 3 for 7 from long range and scored 14 points.
Erik Murphy of Florida scored 21 points, had seven rebounds and added four assists while missing only two shots in 29 minutes. He was chosen the game’s MVP.
The Falcons matched the second-best start in school history in their first 10 games but hadn’t faced a team of Florida’s caliber. Air Force’s Michael Lyons was held to 11 points, nine below his average, and he shot only 3 for 14.
Three-point shooting kept the Falcons in the game. They shot 9 for 20 from beyond the arc against a team ranked third in the nation in scoring defense.
Florida scored 38 points in the paint, and had a 36-25 advantage in rebounds.
The Falcons forced Florida to be creative on offense early. Scottie Wibekin, inbounding under his basket, bounced a pass off a defender’s back, stepped onto the court and caught the ball for a wide-open layup.
Boynton sparked a 12-3 spurt when he made two 3-pointers and fed Casey Prather for a layup, putting Florida ahead 47-37. Boynton hit another 3 for a 59-47 lead.
The Falcons hit three early 3-pointers to go up 10-5, but that turned out to be their biggest lead. Florida surged ahead, gave up eight consecutive points to fall behind 27-25, then went ahead to stay on a basket by Mike Rosario shortly before halftime.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)