SEC Tournament – Gameday: Florida vs. Alabama

By Adam Silverstein
March 15, 2013

Location: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 18,160]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

TV: ABC/ABCHD (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 126/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: None | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

(1) FLORIDA GATORS (4) ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 25-6 (14-4 SEC) Record: 21-11 (12-6 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -11.5 | O/U 117

ANOTHER INJURY; TOUGH PRACTICES

After Friday’s victory, Donovan explained that senior forward Erik Murphy suffered a knee contusion during practice on Wednesday and was limited for the rest of the week. Murphy wound up having a career game on Friday, registering career-highs of 27 points and 12 rebounds despite wearing a brace on his knee during the contest.

“I just was feeling a little pain in it in practice and wanted to be cautious coming into the tournament and just pretty much treated it, iced it and went a little sleep. But it’s fine,” Murphy said after the game.

Donovan, however, was worried that Murphy may not even be available to play.

“I was concerned because the trainer was concerned. He didn’t practice. It was really bizarre,” he explained. “We had just finished a stretch, and we were doing just some going through like pick-and-roll coverage. It wasn’t even a contact drill, more of a teaching drill. He kind of planted his foot and went to turn. He felt something, had kind of a sharp pain in his knee. Didn’t know what it was. They pulled him out. He went back in the training room and then came back out and it was still bothering him. And the trainer felt like it was in his knee joint and really didn’t know what it was.

“Nothing showed up on the MRI. It was negative. That night he started to feel progressively better. There was no swelling. There was nothing on the MRI. So, more than anything else, we felt like everything was fine. At the time they were concerned. Not being a doctor, I don’t know, I just go by what they tell me. They were concerned. I think when the MRI came back later that night and it was clean, I think we felt like he was going to be able to play, wouldn’t be a problem.”

Donovan was quite pleased with how Murphy and the rest of the Gators performed on Friday coming off of the first significant amount of practice time the team has had with a full complement of players.

Read the rest of the Florida-Alabama gameday preview…after the break!

“We had a few days to practice and get better on some things and certainly the first time in a long time I think we’ve got our full complement of players back healthy. I think that time from Sunday till Thursday served our team well. Give our guys credit, they came out focused and ready to play. We moved and passed the basketball. I thought we had pretty good offensive flow,” he said. “Overall, I was pleased with the way our team played. You know, really from start to finish. It was a very good game by them.”

Asked after Friday’s game how practice went during the week, junior center Patric Young certainly did not mince words.

“I can’t lie. It was really difficult practice, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Coach really challenged us because he wants us to be great, and we challenged each other,” he said. “We went out there, I can say that we honestly left everything we had in those practices leading up to the tournament, and it really did help prepare us and get us focused on finishing games and just going out and doing what it takes to win.”

Young also believes that the practices helped Florida get back into the rhythm it had during the middle of the season.

“I think it was definitely a step in the right direction,” he said. “We did a better job minimizing those times in the game where we have slippage. What I mean by ‘slippage,’ we lose focus and we’re not aware that we had two, three turnovers consecutively and don’t realize we need to get a good shot up. I think we did a really good job not doing that so much. We did slip up [Friday] in six possessions and had four-straight turnovers, but it was definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully, we can just build off on that and do even better job next game.”

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is looking to win its fourth SEC Tournament, first since completing a three-peat in the event from 2005-07. The Gators are 37-44 all-time in the SEC Tournament (22-13 under Donovan) in 47 total appearances.
» UF enters the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed for the fourth time in school history. The team has never failed to reach the finals when listed as the top seed.
» The Gators are 6-4 all-time in SEC Tournament games held played in Nashville, TN.
» Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 73-61, but the Gators are 18-5 against the Crimson Tide under Donovan. Donovan is also 5-0 against Grant, his former assistant coach at UF (1996-2006).
» Florida is 50-6 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (24-5 in 2012-13).
» Four Gators starters average in double figures while the Crimson Tide have three players that score in double digits on average.
» UF is 4-1 against top-25 opponents this season after going 3-5 against ranked adversaries last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams.
» Florida is 0-5 this season in single-digit decisions; Alabama is 9-3 in similar contests.
» The Gators are first nationally in scoring margin (+18.8), third in scoring defense (53.2), third in field goal defense (.373), ninth in field goal percentage (.485), 11th in three-point defense (.291), 19th in assist-turnover ratio (1.36) and 24th in turnover margin (3.1). Florida is also seventh nationally in fouling, committing 14.2 per game.
» The Crimson Tide are 23rd nationally in steals (8.8).

WHAT’S AT STAKE / PLAYER TO WATCH

FLORIDA
The Gators are one game away from competing for their second SEC Championship of the season and face a familiar foe in the Crimson Tide. Florida came from eight points down in the second half to beat Alabama by 12 during the regular season to clinch a share of the SEC title and now must knock them out of a single-elimination tournament in order to get a step closer to another. UF is also fighting for a No. 2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament and needs every win it can get before the selection committee convenes on Selection Sunday.

» Senior guard Kenny Boynton (#1) has struggled as of late, going 1-for-7 (0-for-4 from downtown) on Friday against LSU and scoring just two points in Florida’s rout. He did, however, dish seven big assists and played within himself throughout the game, taking what Donovan considered good shots and not just jacking up three-pointers as he has preferred to do on occasion. Boynton, despite his issues this season, remains the Gators’ leader and will play a big part – one way or another – in whether or not Florida advances to Sunday’s championship game.

ALABAMA
Though the Crimson Tide took a step out of the NCAA Tournament “bubble” on Friday, a loss to the Gators on Saturday (despite Florida being a top 15-ranked opponent) may be enough to put Alabama on the outside looking in when the selection committee meets to pick the field on Sunday. UA, which like UF also received a bye to the quarterfinals, won a hard-fought game against Tennessee in its first SEC Tournament game and now looks to avenge a loss from earlier in the season. With Grant 0-5 all-time against Donovan, the players have an additional reason to give it their all on Saturday.

» Junior G Trevor Releford (#12) is Alabama’s best scorer, hitting 49.0 percent of his shots, draining 43.6 percent of his threes and scoring a team-high 15.6 points per game in a team-most 33.2 minutes. Releford enters Saturday’s game with an incredibly hot hand as of late. He has scored 16, 19 and 14 points, respectively, in his last three games while shooting 62.9 percent from beyond the arc in that span. Releford can go on cold spells when tested by a strong defender and that is exactly what the Gators will try to force by matching him up with junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS

Boynton continues to make waves in his fourth year as a starter for the Gators. He is quickly climbing his way up many of Florida’s all-time lists and is already first in school history in five categories: three-point field goals made (324) and attempted (948), field goal attempts (1,619), career starts (136) and minutes played (4,507). He currently leads the SEC in career points (1,966) and three-pointers among active players and is sixth all-time in SEC history in career three-pointers made.

Career scoring
1. Ronnie Williams – 2,090 points
2. Kenny Boynton – 1,966 points

Field goals made
1. Ronnie Williams – 772
4. Dwayne Schintzius – 695
5. Kenny Boynton – 644

Games played
1. Walter Hodge – 151
5. Chris Richard / Dan Werner – 141
7. Kenny Boynton – 139
10. Erik Murphy – 130

Free throws made
1. Ronnie Williams – 546
8. Dan Cross – 411
9. Kenny Boynton – 354

Assists
1. Erving Walker – 547
9. Taurean Green – 397
10. Kenny Boynton – 385

2013 SEC TOURNAMENT BRACKET

One Comment

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    wow..by watching him play would never have guessed he was hurt that bad, hope he is fine for the SEC tourne and the NCAtourney, and more importantly, his career beyond, definitely should be on an NBA roster next year….

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