No. 1 Florida Gators basketball on Sunday became the first team in Southeastern Conference history to go 21-0 in its league games, wrapping up sole possession of the conference crowns with a 61-60 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats for the 2014 SEC Tournament Championship.
Gators past and present had plenty to say about Florida’s effort on Sunday, which clinched the fourth SEC Tournament title in program history and the first since UF won three-straight from 2005-07.
OnlyGators.com takes a look at everything that was said before, during and after the contest through the eyes of some of the people that know the team the best.
Florida coach Billy Donovan describing the last play of the game from the sideline through his own eyes:
”That’s what I thought [they] would do is try to drive it, get it on the glass, try to offensive rebound it, get a foul. [Andrew] Harrison, who John [Calipari] put the ball in his hands, [is] probably the best driver. They kind of put [James] Young over on the right wing so he was driving to his left.
“Scottie did a great job, in my opinion, just keeping him in front and never letting him get loose. Young was coming so fast, he got maybe a little bit off balance. It was a hard play. Young was coming so fast out of the corner to his left hand and he lost balance. I didn’t have a good enough angle to see if he would have kept his balance could he have got down the lane.
“I thought our team, those guys were pretty locked in when the ball got loose and made a great effort play when time expired. But I thought the whole key to the play was Wilbekin on the ball. That’s where it all started, right when it started.
“They held the ball until about six seconds, and then they went. And then when he went, he tried to make a couple multiple moves to get by Scottie, couldn’t get by him. That’s the key because if he gets to the front of the rim, now you got to bring help with you. When you eliminate penetration on a play like that, it really makes it hard for the offense. When the offense can break that seam and get the ball up on the glass, now there’s all sorts of different things that come into play – offensive rebounds, tip ins, fouls. Because they never could get the ball down the lane, that was the key. That was the most important part of the play.”
» Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin on what the team’s mindset was before the final possession of the game: “We just said, ‘Everybody box your man out so they don’t hurt us on the second shot. Don’t run to the rim like we did at UConn.’”
CONFIDENCE RUNNING HIGH
» Wilbekin on where the Gators’ confidence stands right now: “We’re right where we need to be confidence wise. Obviously we came into this tournament wanting to win it. That was our goal. We accomplished that. Now it’s just on to the next game. Whoever we play we’ll get ready for them and come in with the same focus that we have had.”
» Senior center Patric Young on what Florida’s confidence means for the team: “I think we have the kind of confidence that we can lineup against anyone. We think if we’re playing the right way, that there’s no one we can’t beat. But we have to go and do what we did after the regular season was over, start right from the bottom. It starts with the practices, just coming in every single day with a mindset of still getting better, fine-tuning our offense and utilizing each other better. So that’s just going to be our goal as well. We’ll be right on top of that and we’re just excited for the process.”
» Donovan on the atmosphere of the Georgia Dome: “Make no mistake about it, today was a road game for us. These guys won on the road again. It was clearly a road game for our team. We battled and fought and hung in there even when things weren’t going well for us.”
» Donovan on Florida’s horrendous free throw shooting: “If you would have just showed me the stat sheet and I would have saw 7 17 and 21 26, I would say we’re going to have a hard time winning. Kentucky normally takes more free throws than their opponents, but what you got to do is when you got to the line, we need to do a better job than that. We did not do a good job there and we had some opportunities to put the lead out to three with Scottie’s free throws and Dorian Finney Smith’s, and we came short. But to our guys’ credit, we moved to the next thing and we still had the lead and we still had a chance to get a stop to win the game.”
OH FOURS SHOW THEIR SUPPORT
Showed a lot of toughness today. Great defense. Great game gators!!! Very impressive.
— Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) March 15, 2014
Well deserved gators. Enjoy the moment. Back at it tomorrow. Proud to be a gatorboy
— Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) March 16, 2014
» Noah on how proud he is of the team, via CSNChicago.com: “It’s exciting as an alum, as a proud Gator to watch a team that’s playing like that. That’s all you can ask for. That’s the only thing that matters. It’s exciting that they’re going to have a shot in any game because of how hard they play. So I’m proud of that.”
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) March 16, 2014
— Taurean Green (@TaureanJGreen) March 16, 2014
TEAM SPEAKS UP
Unbelievable. We're not done yet let's keep it rolling. #gatorboys
— Patric Young (@BigPatYoung4) March 17, 2014
— Rashon Burno (@Burno23) March 16, 2014
— Will Yeguete (@Will15Yeguete) March 17, 2014
At the top it's just us ninja #SECchamps !
— Chris Walker (@cwalkertime23) March 16, 2014
Champs! So happy and proud of the guys right now man! Lets gooo #GatorNation
— Alex Murphy (@AlexMurphy5) March 16, 2014
MORE SOCIAL MEDIA
I'll go ahead and use the "F Word" early….. FRAZIER!!!!!!
— Teddy Dupay (@TeddyDupay) March 16, 2014
#Gatornation so happy for my young boys!!!' Congrats!!!
— Marreese Speights (@Mospeights16) March 16, 2014
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) March 16, 2014
Damn man it's good to be a Gator
— matt walsh (@mattyvincent44) March 16, 2014
That's the ball game congrats to my GATOR family SEC champs baby we got more we got more baby coming lets get ready for the tournament now
— Mike Rosario (@MikeRoGator3) March 16, 2014
Go Gators !!
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) March 16, 2014