2/24: Post-game notes: Parsons and Boynton

No. 13/13 Florida Gators (22-5, 11-2 SEC) head coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes after his team’s 71-62 win over the Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES

Donovan saying that Florida was “fortunate in this game to only be down seven at the half” is an understatement. The Gators shot an embarrassing 37 percent from the floor in the opening period and at one point were being outshot 63-29 percent from the field. The reason? Florida’s defense – especially in and around the paint – was lackluster, something Donovan in the past has blamed on the team’s offensive inefficiency. When the ball doesn’t go in the basket, he says, the team stops trying on defense as well.

“The dominated us in the first half in the paint,” Donovan said, “but at least we got it back and made it reasonable.” That they did due to a terrific effort from sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and senior forward Chandler Parsons, each of whom scored the vast majority of their points in the second half.

PARSONS SHOWS HE’S TOUGH AND RESILIENT

Parsons may not have started Thursday, but he played a starter’s minutes. Averaging 33.3 minutes per game this season, Parsons was on the court for 30 on Thursday, with freshman starting F Casey Prather playing his usual seven minutes at the start of the game rather than spread throughout.

“He just went out and played. He got to the glass. He gave us a huge boost off the bench, getting 16 and seven; that was very helpful for our team to have him out there,” said Donovan of Parsons’s performance. “He really did a great job. I could see he was a little bit winded. We got him out of the game a few times to give him a blow, but he’s a tough kid. I was just happy to see him play aggressively.”

It was obvious that his stamina was understandably a bit of an issue having not played since Feb. 12, but the effort Parsons put in to getting healthy enough to contribute in a big way Thursday did not go unnoticed by the coaching staff. Over the last 11 days, Parsons had massage therapy, muscle stimulation and plenty of ice and relaxation while trying to reduce the swelling of his deep thigh bruise.

“What he did to get himself back was unbelievable. We had an assistant trainer in his room every night because he wanted to do that,” Donovan said. “I would say that, legitimately, he got five hours of treatment a day. […] He really worked hard to get back. Every time I was down there, he was around. He worked around the clock to get himself healthy. I’m proud he could come back and play and play the way he did tonight. He really worked hard, and I appreciate him working as hard as he did because he certainly helped our team tonight.”

Parsons also discussed how he was feeling after the game.

“It’s still sore, still something that I’m going to have to battle through. It’s not just going to go away, especially if I’m going to play on it,” he said. “It’s not going to go away anytime soon, but it’s not that severe. I just like to go out there and play. It’s just something I personally have to battle with. […] It’s not really like a pain, it’s just annoying…it’s sore.

“You’d have to cut off my leg for me to miss another game.”

Donovan talks about Boynton and his team’s performance…after the break!
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Gators win SEC East by pounding Bulldogs 71-62

Senior forward Chandler Parsons may not have been in the starting lineup for the No. 13 Florida Gators (22-5, 11-2 SEC) on Thursday, but he saw starter minutes and scored 16 points off the bench to lead his team to a 71-62 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs (18-9, 7-6 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

With the win, Florida clinched the Southeastern Conference East division title for the first time since 2007 and earned a bye in the 2011 SEC Tournament next month.

Gators sophomore guard Kenny Boynton scored a team-high 18 points, dished a team-best four assists and hit 5-of-6 attempts from the charity stripe to spark a big second-half comeback win for Florida. Junior point guard Erving Walker added 15 points, and senior F Alex Tyus scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting to support redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, who struggled getting access to the basket.

Walker scored the first eight points from the field for UF as the rest of his team started 0-for-11 from the floor. The Gators were up 10-8 with 14:59 left in the first half but quickly dropped their advantage and trailed the remainder of the half.

The Bulldogs used a 13-2 run to go up 21-12 and eventually took a game-high 11-point lead at 31-20 with 3:24 remaining before the break. Florida reduced Georgia’s lead to seven before heading into the locker rooms on a layup from Tyus.

UF opened the second half with a dunk from Parsons on their second possession and an offensive rebound and layup from him on their third. The Gators completed a 13-4 run through the half (9-2 in the second) to tie the game at 35 for the first time in 17 minutes.

A three-point play by Macklin (his first and only basket of the game, scored with 13:13 left) tied it again at 42, but a three by Parsons completed an 8-0 run for Florida to put them ahead 47-42. Three minutes later, Boynton took over, scoring 12-straight points for the Gators including a trio of three-pointers as part of a 12-2 run that gave Florida a 10-point lead, 63-53, with 5:09 to go.

An immediate 6-0 run by UGA cut UF’s lead to four, but the Gators hit six free throws down the stretch to ensure the 14th victory in their last 16 games.

Despite struggling at times, G Travis Leslie led the Bulldogs with 20 points. Georgia F Trey Thompkins added 16 points and had a team-high seven rebounds.

Though he had trouble getting going offensively, Macklin notched a team-high eight boards for the Gators and was 3-for-3 from the free throw line. Parsons contributed seven rebounds and three assists and was one of a trio of Florida players with three offensive boards (Tyus, Macklin).

With four points each at halftime, Boynton and Parsons scored 14 and 12, respectively, in the second half. Freshman F Casey Prather, who started for Parsons, was held scoreless and only played seven minutes due to Parsons staying in for 30.

Shooting a paltry 37 percent in the first half (10-for-27), the Gators shot 53.6 percent (15-for-28) the rest of the way. Florida also shot 35 percent (7-of-20) from downtown and 70 percent (14-for-20) from the line. The opposite was true of the Bulldogs, which shot 60 percent in the first half but only 42.3 percent after the break and 20 percent from three (3-of-15) for the game.

In addition to clinching the SEC East, UF’s win Thursday was their ninth-straight at home against UGA. The Gators have now won 14 of their last 16 games and defeated six consecutive conference opponents for the first time since 2007. Florida is also 19-1 when holding an opponent under 70 points this season.

UF will play their second of three games in a seven-day span when they travel to Kentucky on Saturday. The game will air live on CBS at 4 p.m.

Notes: Former Florida football players wide receiver Louis Murphy, tight end Cornelius Ingram and cornerback Dorian Munroe took in the game. Also in attendance were head football coach Will Muschamp and former basketball C (and recent cancer survivor) Dwayne Schintzius.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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No. 13 Florida vs. Georgia Gameday Preview

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 12,000]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD / ESPN3D
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Sirius/XM: 121/141
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 13 FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 21-5 (10-2) Record: 18-8 (7-5)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -6

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Georgia 104-96. The Gators have won 13 out of the last 15 games in the series against the Bulldogs and are 21-7 overall against them under Donovan including 11-2 in Gainesville.
» UF has won eight-straight games against UGA in the O’Dome.
» With a victory, the Gators will clinch the SEC East division and earn an automatic first-round bye in the 2011 SEC Tournament.
» Florida has won 16 of its last 19 games (and 13 of their last 15) with 11 victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» The Gators are 18-1 (7-0 in SEC play) when holding an opponent under 70 points this season after limiting LSU to 61 on Sunday.
» Florida junior point guard Erving Walker, with 192 three-pointers, is tied for sixth all-time at Florida with Matt Walsh. He is six treys away from moving into the top five.
» Defeating Tennessee two Saturdays ago, UF reached 20+ wins for the 13th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the SEC. They have also reached 10 wins in league play for the ninth time in the last 13 years and first time since 2007 (13-3).
» A win Thursday would give Florida six-straight victories against SEC opponents for the first time since 2007 (11).
» The Gators hold advantages over the Bulldogs in a pair of major national statistical categories. Florida scores more points per game 70.8-69.9 (121st-149th) and shoots a better percentage .457-.454 (77th-94th), but Georgia dishes more assists per game 15.6-13.7 (28th-125th). The teams are equals off the glass, each grabbing an average of 38.3 rebounds per game. The Gators rank 12th in RPI (.6353) and 10th in strength of schedule nationally compared to the Bulldogs being 38th (.5923) and 31st, respectively.

LAST TIME OUT…

Florida and Georgia will square off for the second time this season; the Gators defeated the Bulldogs in a 104-91 double-overtime thriller in Athens, GA on Jan. 25. In the contest, Walker hit a dagger three-pointer to force a second overtime and Parsons took over in the final period to give the Gators a hard-fought victory.

PARSONS LIMITED FOR GATORS ON THURSDAY

Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons, who is averaging double-digit points (10.8) while leading the Gators with 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, will be limited on Thursday after suffering a deep thigh bruise two Saturdays ago against Tennessee. He received treatment on the injury for 11 consecutive days and missed Sunday’s game at LSU but will be active and able to contribute Thursday even though he will not start. Freshman F Casey Prather will take his place in the starting lineup.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.8 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.426) and three-point percentage (.390). Walker also leads Florida in turnovers (66) and became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points earlier this season.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.3 percent from the floor this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but is struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is only hitting 36.4 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 13.1 points per game and makes a team-high 83.1 percent of his free throws.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage as a starter. Tyus became just the fifth player under Donovan to reach 500 career field goals, accomplishing the feat two weeks ago against Vanderbilt.
» Prather…who will likely earn his second start for the orange and blue on Thursday. The freshman only plays an average of 7.3 minutes per game but is shooting at a 45.7 percent clip on 35 shot attempts this season.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17 minutes per game. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.25:1), while Young averages 3.4 points and 3.4 boards off the bench.
» Georgia F Trey Thompkins…who is the standout performer on his team. Thompkins averages team-highs in points per game (16.0), rebounds (7.7) and blocks (1.8).
» Bulldogs F Travis Leslie…who compliments Thompkins nicely and is second on his team with 14.0 points and 7.1 boards per game.

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2/23: Donovan provides injury update, notes

Updated Feb. 24 at 12:15 a.m.

No. 13/13 Florida Gators (21-5, 10-2 SEC) head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes following his press availability Wednesday.

PARSONS LIKELY TO PLAY THURSDAY

Though he missed Sunday’s game at LSU with a deep thigh bruise, senior forward Chandler Parsons is expected to play Thursday vs. Georgia in the second-to-last home game of his Florida career as long as he practices without significant pain Wednesday.

“We’ve made some positive progress. [Tuesday] we were able to work him out individually,” Donovan said. “He felt much, much better, probably the best he has felt up until this point in time. We’re going to put him in practice [Wednesday] at 3 p.m., just to see how he responds physically. My biggest concern as a coach is when you’ve got a guy that’s been out 10-12 days like this and hasn’t done anything, I just want to see how he responds in a competitive situation.

“If that goes well, I don’t anticipate him starting tomorrow, but I would anticipate playing him if things went well in practice and he felt good because he has made some good strides and he has made some positive progress.”

Donovan also discussed why Parsons needs to get work in at practice in order to be ready. “The biggest thing that he talks about right now is the pain, which was really preventing him on Friday from doing much, is not there [anymore],” he said. “Timing, that’s a big thing when you haven’t played at all. Catching, shooting, rhythm – that’s big. As he described it, he probably feels a little heavy legged. Probably not moving with the fluidity he did beforehand. He’s got to have the level of confidence that he’s OK.”

PRATHER LIKELY FILLING IN AGAIN AS STARTER

With Parsons out of the starting lineup, Donovan is once again “leaning” towards replacing him with freshman F Casey Prather, who took his place at LSU on Thursday. However, Donovan is being very careful in making sure that even if Parsons does play, it does not affect the mindset of some of the team’s role players.

“Our guys coming off the bench have got to understand that they have to be prepared and ready to play in any situation – whether its five minutes or 18 minutes,” he said. “We can’t have a situation where our guys try to back away and just settle into a role. We can’t have that.”

FOCUSING ON ONE GAME AT A TIME

Donovan often points out that he is bothered with some of the outside distractions that can affect the team this time of year. Over the last three seasons, it has been about Florida’s place on the bubble and whether or not they would earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament. With that settled this year, Donovan is trying to brush off talk of the team clinching the SEC East and potentially winning the conference title.

“We’ve never talked, as a team, about winning the SEC East. We’ve talked about trying to win a SEC Championship, as every team does. That’s an overall league championship,” he said. “Right now there are enough teams that are within striking distance of us. Right now, we have four games remaining and three of these four are going to come very, very quickly. When you’re walking up a flight of stairs trying to get to the top, if you miss a couple steps, you may fall all the way back down to the bottom.

“We’re excited about the opportunity we have as a team, and the position we’re in right now. At the same point, if you don’t take care of what’s in front of you today, you can forget about down the road.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 2/23: Donovan provides injury update, notes

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FOUR BITS: Miller, Pouncey, Black, Beal, Burton

1 » Upon joining the Miami Heat, star forward LeBron James decided to take slightly less than the maximum contract available to him, in part, in order for the team to sign former Florida Gators F Mike Miller. With the NBA’s trade deadline rapidly approaching and Miami in desperate need of help at point guard and center, Miller has become expendable to the Heat, which is shopping him throughout the league.

“According to multiple league executives, the Heat have floated Mike Miller in several different trade scenarios,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports. “Miller is the Heat’s most tradable asset, even though he’s in the first season of a five-year, $29 million contract he signed last summer and is averaging just 5.9 points on 41 percent shooting as he recovers from a hand injury that cost him the first two months of the season. “

2 » Looking at offensive line prospects before the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine truly gets underway, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks had this to say about Florida center/guard Mike Pouncey, whom he ranks No. 1 at his position.

1. Mike Pouncey, Florida: He possesses outstanding athleticism and movement skills, and his instincts shine while he controls the offense from the pivot. He’s started 13 games at center and 28 at guard. That flexibility makes him a valuable commodity. Pouncey is an athletic blocker at the point of attack with the strength and power to move defenders off the ball. He has the quickness to cut off linebackers and safeties on the second level. As a pass blocker, he has the body control and strength to anchor against power rushers. He holds his ground against bull rushes, and has the balance to react quickly to counters without losing control. Given his versatility and talent, Pouncey can solidify his status as the top interior blocker with a strong performance at the combine.

3 » NFL.com sat down with former Gators safety Ahmad Black, who spoke with them for a minute in a video interview about a number of topics. Click here to watch. “I go hard. I play like it’s my last play. I respect the game of football, so I’ll give it my all,” he said.

4 » Chosen to participate in the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit on April 9, Florida’s five-star shooting guard commit Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) sat down for a wide-ranging interview with USA Basketball. In it he discusses representing his country, playing international basketball picking the University of Florida and much more.

Extra BIT » Considering a lot of people seem to have gotten a kick out of the story, OGGOA figured we’d throw up a quick BIT about Gators freshman quarterback Trey Burton having a steer named after him. Austin Dailey, 18, the owner the steer, will be attending UF in the fall. You can read the story here.

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TWO BITS: Brewer’s fate, Meyer’s compensation

1 » As a supplement of the trade between the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks for star forward Carmelo Anthony, the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to exchange former Florida Gators F Corey Brewer for two players from New York. However, Brewer was supposed to be headed to Denver – that is until the Nuggets demanded rookie center Timofey Mozgov from the Knicks. ESPN’s Chris Sheridan explains…

A league source told ESPN.com that the final sticking point in the trade, which was agreed to late Monday night, was the final destination for Corey Brewer, who is being dealt by the Timberwolves to New York. The Nuggets wanted Brewer, but the Knicks wanted him, too, and made a successful argument that since they were relinquishing the final piece of the puzzle that Denver wanted — center Timofey Mozgov — fairness dictated that the Knicks receive the player Minnesota was trading away.

With Brewer back in orange and blue for the second time, it appears New York plans to retain and play him rather than send him away for additional compensation. OGGOA has learned that Brewer will once again wear a No. 2 jersey, this time for the Knicks.

2 » Though former Gators head coach Urban Meyer and the University of Florida have officially severed financial ties, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida is still discussing and attempting to finalize additional compensation for Meyer. Whether bonuses, donations or additional salaries owed to him, Meyer could receive some payments from the school in the short term. “It had been a work in progress all along,” UF associate athletics director Steve McClain told the paper. “The only thing we could say right now is the details have not been finalized yet.”

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TWO BITS: Futures of Tebow, Brewer up in air

1 » With Josh McDaniels ousted as Denver Broncos head coach, questions immediately sprung up about how secure quarterback Tim Tebow, one of the team’s first-round draft pick last season, could feel about his future in Mile High. Assurances appeared to have been given upon the hiring of head coach John Fox, a man who praised Tebow in the past, that he would have every opportunity to win the starting job and prove he was the man to lead Denver from this point forward.

However, a report by the NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi paints a different picture of the Broncos’ stance on Tebow. “Most members of the Broncos who were there when the Tebow pick was made are looking to distance themselves from the choice, which is a classic way for things to operate in the NFL,” Lombardi writes. He continues, “So Tebow is a man without much support in Denver, making quarterback a huge need.”

2 » As OGGOA reported late Monday, the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to send former Florida Gators forward Corey Brewer to the New York Knicks in a side deal latched on to New York’s trade with the Denver Nuggets for F Carmelo Anthony. Our immediate reaction was positive, that Brewer would be given a fresh start in a system where he could thrive and actually contribute a quality the team doesn’t have – defense.

However, multiple reports surfaced Tuesday that the Knicks may not end up hanging on to Brewer and could trade him once again before the NBA‘s trade deadline passes on Thursday. “From what I’m told neither Brewer nor the first round pick may remain in the Knicks’ possession beyond Thursday’s trade deadline,” Newsday‘s Alan Hahn wrote, “but what either could be used for remains unknown.”

For now, Brewer remains in limbo even as his former teammates praise him. “It’s all a part of it,” Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis said of the situation, according to the Minneapolis StarTribune. “You have the basketball side of the NBA and the business side of the NBA. This is part of the business side of things. It’s an absolutely horrible spot [for Brewer] to be in. It’s something that has weighed on his mind for a while now. You could just see it. It’s awful that that’s what happens to guys in this league. But, again, that’s a part of the business side of it.”

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2/20: Post-game notes, Parsons injury update

No. 13/13 Florida Gators (21-5, 10-2 SEC) head coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes after his team’s 68-61 win over the LSU Tigers on Sunday.

PRATHER ALLOWED PRESS TO REEMERGE

Donovan loves utilizing the press defensively, something he has had to step away from over the last few games with a senior but less athletic frontcourt than he once had. With senior forward Chandler Parsons (deep thigh bruise) out of action and freshman F Casey Prather taking his place, Donovan saw the opportunity to speed up the pace of the game with his signature press.

“We’re a better pressing team when Casey’s out there – with his athleticism and his length,” he said after the game. “We felt like we wanted to try to utilize him and Will [Yeguete] and Scottie [Wilbekin] – those guys are pretty good pressing guys. Knowing that we were going to have to play those guys more minutes, I thought if we could get the game going up-and-down, it may take some pressure off those guys being young guys on the road having to play more significant minutes. When we pressed, a couple times we turned them over, but more than anything else we applied pressure.”

Donovan also spoke about Prather’s performance and was quite complimentary. “He did a pretty good job. I wasn’t really going in expecting him to score 15 points and grab eight rebounds,” he said. “I was more expecting him to play hard and play aggressive. Casey, over the last few weeks, to his credit, has come to practice and has tried to work hard every day, tried to get better. Overall I was pleased with the way he played.”

With Georgia coming to town Thursday, Donovan may choose to shelve the press due to his opponent’s athleticism and ability to shoot the ball. Of course, it may not a moot argument if Parsons is back in the starting lineup.

HEALTH OF PARSONS CONCERNS DONOVAN

On Friday, Donovan told the media that Parsons was “50-50″ to play Sunday, noting that as long as he could play on the leg with the deep thigh bruise, there was not much that could actually make it worse. When it came down to game time, playing Parsons was not even an option for Florida.

“I’m concerned about that right now,” Donovan said. “[He] definitely could not play. He did a workout on Friday by himself and had a very, very difficult time moving and cutting and jumping. What ended up happening was, his leg got swollen again, which is probably not a great sign. I don’t think he was set back.” Though Parsons was fine working out in the pool, his leg began to swell once he started running on the hardwood, Donovan noted.

“I don’t know if he’ll play against Georgia. I don’t know that yet. I don’t have any time frame of him to be back,” he added. “I would say that I do not expect him back [Monday] and definitely do not expect him back Tuesday right now. We thought he was really making some good progress and then, from Friday to [Sunday], there’s been very, very little improvement. It’s a significant injury. It’s an injury that’s going to need rest; it’s going to need time. After the workout, when his leg got swollen again, they shut him down completely from doing anything.”

Donovan talks about Florida’s SEC title chances…after the break!
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