No. 12 Florida starts slow, powers past Alabama

Looking to rebound from consecutive losses and fight for a road victory despite being down two primary reserves, the No. 12/14 Florida Gators (20-6, 8-3 SEC) reached 20 wins for the 14th consecutive season with a 61-52 defeat of the Alabama Crimson Tide (16-9, 5-6 SEC) at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, AL on Valentine’s Day.

It was a tale of two halves for Florida and Alabama on Tuesday night.

The Gators shot just 30.8 percent from the field and 25 percent (3-of-12) from three in the first half but turned things around in the latter portion of the game, hitting 50 percent of their field goals and 33.3 percent of their treys in the second half. Conversely, the Crimson Tide shot 58.8 percent from the floor and 60 percent from beyond the arc to start but made just 28.6 percent and nine percent (1-of-11) of their attempts, respectively, in the final 20 minutes.

Both teams opened the game playing sloppily with badly missed baskets and an abundance of turnovers. However, Alabama got things under control first and used a 9-0 run (along with a 5:36 scoring drought for Florida) to take a 20-16 lead in the first half. The Gators answered by outscoring the Crimson Tide 10-6 on the way to the halftime buzzer with a three-pointer by junior forward Erik Murphy tying the contest at 26.

Florida came out of the break with an explosive scoring barrage as the Gators netted 16-straight points as part of a 19-0 run dating back to 1:34 remaining in the first half. Alabama scored just two points in the first nine minutes of the second half with the Crimson Tide starting 0-for-10 from the field.

Picking up his fourth foul with 10:18 left in the game, Florida sophomore center Patric Young was forced to take a seat even though he was leading the Gators with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting at the time. Alabama scored four quick points and got the home crowd energized by attacking the paint, but the Crimson Tide was soon silenced by Murphy’s fourth trey of the contest.

Alabama did not get within double digits of Florida again until the final 30 seconds as the Gators maintained their energy level and gutted out a much-needed road victory.

Florida got its biggest advantage in the turnover margin, forcing 18 Alabama miscues and converting those additional possessions into 24 points. The Gators outscored the Crimson Tide 26-22 in the paint but were outscored 0-32 off the bench.

UF did, however, have 13 assists on 21 made baskets including seven from senior point guard Erving Walker, who passed Ronnie Montgomery for No. 1 all-time on Florida’s career assists list (505).

Complimenting Young’s solid game in the paint, Murphy and freshman guard Bradley Beal each scored 14 points for the Gators with the youngster adding a team-high eight rebounds and three dimes to his total. Murphy was an outstanding 4-of-8 from downtown and grabbed five boards of his own.

Guard Andrew Steele, one of two Alabama players returning from suspension on the decision of head coach Anthony Grant, led the Crimson Tide with 11 points while bringing down five rebounds and dishing three assists on the evening.

Both teams were without a pair of important players for Tuesday’s game. Florida had sophomore F Will Yeguete (concussion) and redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (hip pointer) sidelined with injures, while Alabama F JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell – the team’s top two scorers and rebounders – were out on indefinite suspension.

The Gators will look to continue their winning ways Saturday when they travel to Arkansas for their second of four road contests in the next five games. The two teams will tip off at 6 p.m. live on ESPN2.

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Florida’s Nike Sportswear Basketball apparel set

Nike has released a brand new apparel set as part of the Nike Sportswear Basketball line for the Florida Gators as well as five of the other seven men’s teams that received Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms from the company (with he exception of North Carolina, which is being replaced by Michigan State).

Courtesy of, you can take a look at pictures of the “vintage-style” Florida apparel including an AW77 hoodie, crew sweatshirt, T-shirt, destroyer jacket and camouflage hat…all available after the jump (click below).

Continue Reading » Florida’s Nike Sportswear Basketball apparel set


Florida looking to gain momentum at Alabama

Coming off a pair of tough losses to the concensus No. 1 team in the country Kentucky and an underrated Tennessee team, the newly-minted No. 12/14 Florida Gators are looking to right the ship on Tuesday when they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, AL. With both squads facing a number of questions heading into the contest, Florida head coach Billy Donovan and Alabama head coach Anthony Grant met with the media Monday to discuss their programs and the upcoming game.


The Gators and Crimson Tide will each be without two players for Tuesday’s game though their absences will occur for vastly different reasons. Florida sophomore forward Will Yeguete (concussion) and redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) will miss the game with injuries, while Alabama Fs JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are out of action due to suspension.

UF and UA will also get some players back for the showdown. Redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (illness) returns at less than 100 percent for the Gators, while the Crimson tide will welcome back Gs Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele from two more suspensions handed down by Grant.

The losses will severely hurt both teams. Florida loses their best defender and rebounder in Yeguete as well as a solid bench scorer in Rosario, and Alabama will be without their top two leaders in scoring and rebounding as the duo of Green and Mitchell average a combined 27.2 points and 14.2 boards per game.

Additionally information and thoughts from the coaches on the injuries and suspensions are available in the “notes and quotes” section at the end of this post.”


With Yeguete injured and out indefinitely, sophomore center Patric Young regressing and junior F Erik Murphy not necessarily a true post player, Donovan agreed with a reporter’s assessment that the Gators’ backcourt is in need of major help.

“We’re going to have to do some different things both offensively and defensively,” he said. “Certainly going into Alabama without Will being there, there’s a tremendous void there for us defensively at the basket. Alabama […] is a very big, enormous team up front. Patric certainly logged way too many minutes in the Tennessee game, he played 36. We’re going to have to look at playing smaller at certain times.

“We may have to look at playing Patric and Murphy together some, not together some. We’re probably going to have to look at moving Casey Prather a little bit more toward the power forward spot. Our presence at the basket both offensively and defensively is hurt there with Will [out of action] because I think Will has proven at least through this first part of the SEC and some of the higher level competition that we’ve played … even though he may not be 6’10”, he still is a problem out there defensively. He can hold his own around the basket.”


» Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 73-58 though the Gators have a 15-5 winning advantage against the Crimson Tide since Donovan took over UF’s program. Donovan is 2-0 against Grant since his former assistant took the UA job.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 17 of 25 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 676 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» The Gators are 284-38 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points.
» Florida is one victory away from winning 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season, which is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.


Senior point guard Erving Walker is steadily making his way up a number of Florida’s career lists. Below are some of the marks he is about to pass in UF’s record books.

» Assists: Walker (498) can move into No. 1 all-time with six dimes, passing Ronnie Montgomery (503).
» Minutes: Walker (3,966) moved into No. 2 all-time in time on the court, passing Chandler Parsons (3,964) on Saturday.
» Three-pointers made: Walker (265) can move into No. 3 all-time with three treys, passing Anthony Roberson (267).
» Scoring: Walker (1,629) can move into No. 4 all-time with 49 points, passing Stacey Poole (1,678).
» Free throws made: Walker (400) can move into No. 7 all-time with 12 makes from the charity stripe, passing Dan Cross (411).
» Free throws attempted: Walker (507) can move into No. 9 all-time with eight foul shots, passing David Lee (514).
» Walker is near the top 10 all-time in games started (three away) and steals (six away).


» Donovan does not know when Yeguete will be back and cautioned that he could be out for a while after only passing two of five required concussion tests as conducted by team doctors. “I’m concerned enough,” he said of Yeguete’s second concussion (Ohio State) this season. “There’s protocol that the trainer and the medical staff have to go through as it relates to conclusions. […] The concussion issues right now because of football have been addressed at certainly a very heightened level. There is this protocol we have to go through regardless of how Will is feeling. […] I don’t think he’s having any symptoms where he’s sick or dizzy all the time. He feels OK, but he’s not passing these tests. […] He’s way off from there right now. He’s way off. Will’s a tough kid. If it was up to him, he would probably want to go play, but we can’t risk his health and those things.”

» The single Florida player likely to benefit the most from Yeguete’s absence is Prather, who will see much more time on the court. Donovan badly wants for Prather to succeed but believes some of his failings are from over thinking and not just going out and playing basketball. “He has never ever once – and I’ve got unbelievable respect for him – he’s never had a bad attitude,” he said. “He comes to practice every day and works. He puts extra time in. he deserves to play well. He’s another guy where he wants to do so well so bad that sometimes he can go in with preconceived notions of how he’s going to play. […] He’s got to go in and play the game and read what’s going on. He’s got to get better at reading situations and not getting so bogged down mentally at wanting to do so well.”

» Grant is supremely disappointed in his players and believes he should not have to deal with behavioral issues like the ones he suspended them for (but would not disclose) at this point in their careers. However, he takes full responsibility for their failings and hopes his team can use these mistakes as a learning experience going forward. “The main thing right now is for our guys to understand the importance of making good decisions and understanding the consequences when you make poor decisions and then moving on and growing from there and learning from that,” he said. “I’m the leader. It’s my team. I certainly feel like I’ve got responsibility to them as individuals, to their families, to our program, to this university. Obviously it’s difficult when you have to call your bosses and let them know the situation like that and obviously the impact that has on the image of our program and the image of this university. That’s my responsibility as a coach to make sure those things are limited or prevented as much as possible.”

» Donovan understands what Grant is going through and fully supports his friend and colleague with the idea that sometimes tough decisions and sacrifices have to be made in the short term for major long term gains to occur. “The one thing I do know is I know Anthony Grant about as well as anybody. He is a guy that has got incredible integrity and character and knows exactly the way he wants his program run, what he’s going to do,” he said. “I really believe that in order to win big you got to be prepared to lose big. Anthony’s attitude is that he’s not going to be the kind for guy who is going to plug holes in a leaking ship. He’s not going to plug it because eventually that stuff – at some point – is going to rear its head and it’s going to bite you at some point. There’s a certain way Anthony wants to go about his team playing, what they want to do every single day in practice, how they want to conduct themselves. The easiest thing I think a lot of times in coaching is to look the other way. But I don’t think your team can fully maximize its fullest potential until you as a coach are prepared to lose big. By Anthony doing that, I think he showed his team that he’s prepared to lose big because he wants to win big and there’s a certain way you have to go about winning big and these things that are going on are not going to help us win big.”

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Gators fall but still standing in top 25 rankings

The 14th editions of the 2011-12 regular season USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top 25 Polls were released on Monday, and the Kentucky Wildcats (23-1, 9-0 SEC) held on to the No. 1 spot in both rankings, receiving the vast majority of votes as the top team in the country.

The Florida Gators fell in the rankings after reentering the top 10 one week ago for the first time since Dec. 26, 2011. Florida dropped to No. 12 and No. 14 in the respective polls on the heels of consecutive losses to Kentucky (78-58) on the road Tuesday evening and Tennessee (75-70) at home on Saturday afternoon. The Gators are one of three/two Southeastern Conference teams listed in the rankings.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

This Week 1-5: Kentucky (31), Syracuse, Missouri, Duke, Kansas
6-10: Ohio State, North Carolina, Michigan State, Georgetown, Baylor
11-15: UNLV, Florida, Marquette, Murray State, San Diego State
16-20: St. Mary’s, Wisconsin, Louisville, Michigan, Indiana
21-25: Florida State, Virginia, Mississippi State, Gonzaga, Notre Dame

Last Week 1-5: Kentucky (31), Syracuse, Ohio State, Missouri, North Carolina
6-10: Baylor, Florida/Murray State, Duke, Kansas
11-15: Georgetown, Michigan State, St. Mary’s, San Diego State, Creighton
16-20: UNLV, Florida State, Mississippi State, Marquette, Virginia
21-25: Harvard, Wisconsin, Indiana/Louisville, Michigan

This Week 1-5: Kentucky (63), Syracuse (2), Missouri, Kansas, Duke
6-10: Ohio State, Michigan State, North Carolina, Baylor, Georgetown
11-15: UNLV, Marquette, San Diego State, Florida, Wisconsin
16-20: Murray State, Michigan, Indiana, Louisville, Florida State
21-25: St. Mary’s, Virginia, Notre Dame, Gonzaga/Wichita State

Last Week 1-5: Kentucky (63), Syracuse (2), Ohio State, Missouri, North Carolina
6-10: Baylor, Kansas, Florida, Murray State, Duke
11-15: Michigan State, Georgetown, San Diego State, UNLV, Florida State
16-20: St. Mary’s, Creighton, Marquette, Virginia, Mississippi State
21-25: Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Louisville, Harvard

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.


Florida, Alabama to be shorthanded on Tuesday

With both teams looking to rebound from tough losses, the No. 7/8 Florida Gators and Alabama Crimson Tide are set to square off Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa, AL though it appears as if neither team will go into the game at full strength.

Florida announced Sunday evening that sophomore forward Will Yeguete (concussion) and redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) will both miss Tuesday’s tilt.

Yeguete, who banged his head into the stanchion underneath the basket while going up for a block against Tennessee on Saturday, received 8-10 stitches for a cut above his eye and failed concussion tests in the locker room. He was unconscious on the court and later diagnosed with his second concussion this season (at Ohio State).

Unlike Yeguete, Rosario did not even participate in Saturday’s contest after suffering a hip pointer during practice last week. The Gators were also without redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (illness) against Tennessee, but he will be healthy enough to travel with the team and come off the bench against the Crimson Tide.

Though Yeguete and Rosario are both bench players for Florida, the former has earned spot starts and extensive playing time in the front court while the latter has been a scoring spark for the Gators all season long. Yeguete is averaging 4.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game in 22.0 minutes, while Rosario scores 7.9 points and shooting 38.0 percent from downtown in 16.0 minutes per game on average.

Alabama is even worse off than their upcoming opponent with up to four players set to miss the game due to suspension. Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant suspended starting F Tony Mitchell indefinitely on Monday for “conduct detrimental to the team” that occurred over a period of time.

He followed that up by ruling Saturday that three more Alabama players – F JaMychal Green, G Trevor Releford and G Andrew Steele – would also be suspended indefinitely for violations of team rules.

“We are extremely disappointed in the choices and decisions made by these young men that has led to this suspension,” Grant said in a statement released by the school. “Talent is a gift, but character is a choice. The consequences of their choices have negatively impacted them as individuals and the people that love and support them. Our hope is that they will be mature enough to accept responsibility for their actions and place a higher value on their character.”

Greene, the Crimson Tide’s scoring and rebounding leader with 14.1 points and 7.2 boards per game, is the most impactful of the four suspensions though all will undoubtedly affect the team’s ability to perform at a high level going forward.

Florida and Alabama tip off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday live on ESPN.

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2/11: Florida vs. Tennessee post-game notes

The No. 7/8 Florida Gators should expect the numbers in front of their team name to drop significantly on Monday after being outplayed in both of their games this past week. After being routed 78-58 by the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday, Florida was stunned at home by the unranked Tennessee Volunteers, which picked up a 75-70 win Saturday. Gators head coach Billy Donovan had plenty to talk about after the game as he looks to right the ship and finish out the 2011-12 regular season strong.


Florida has reached a point now where the team must decide how they want the rest of the season to play out. The Gators can either mature, learn from their mistakes, improve and fight their way to a high postseason ranking or falter like the 2007-08 team.

Like that squad, Donovan does not believe this year’s group has been “hardened” enough to understand what it takes to win game-in and game-out. He feels Florida struggles with some of the more minor things in games (getting fouled, missing shots) and instead should be worried about being consistently productive no matter what is happening around them.

“Our guys are not hardened enough right now. We have not been hardened. In a certain respect, there’s a lot of similarities – as much as I hate to say this – when Chandler Parsons was here as a freshman. There was not that hardening,” he said. “It took Chandler a couple of years. I’m using him [as an example], but I’d throw in Nick Calathes, [Marreese] Speights, that whole group. Those guys were not hardened.

“They followed two national champions and had no idea and no clue of what went into it. I think these guys are great guys, but we haven’t been hardened enough. Because of our limited depth there a little bit, we need to practice better. We need to be more on edge. We need to take everything to a different level, and we haven’t done that.”

Donovan let the Gators know just that after Saturday’s game by writing “NIT” in big letters on the board in the locker room, something he did mostly as a warning.

“My point on mentioning that to them was nothing more than the fact that there have been teams that have been here – Chandler and those guys started off the season 18-3,” he said. “We’re in a tough stretch for our team. I was using [2007-08] as an example. We’re 7-3 in our league after 10 games. We have six games left. There’s home games and the SEC Tournament.

“I don’t feel like we don’t have the opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament. I was using it as an example of don’t take for granted what you have in front of you. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We can’t come in and lose every game. I was using it as an example of: Have an understanding and a respect level of how good you think you are.”

How much is this Florida team like the 2007-08 group? Here are just a few figures to keep in mind going forward:

As of February 122007-082011-12
Overall Record:19-519-6
Record vs. SEC:6-37-3
National ranking (USA Today/AP):UR/URNo. 7/8
Losses vs. Top 25:33
Wins vs. Top 25:12
Record vs. Tennessee (season):0-20-2
Regular season finish:2-5, NITTBD


Gators sophomore forward Will Yeguete went down early in the first half when he hit his head on the corner of the basket stand after going up for a block. Yeguete laid motionless on the floor for a few minutes while trainers came over to check on him. Eventually he sat up and left the court with blood coming from the right side of his face, never returning to action.

After the game, Donovan said Yeguete suffered a “definite concussion” and is “out indefinitely” because he failed concussion tests in the locker room and had 8-10 stitches for the cut above his eye. It is Yeguete’s second concussion this season as he also suffered one early in the year at Ohio State.

“When I got over there he was knocked out. He wasn’t even conscious,” he said. “He wasn’t even awake when I was over there. I was a little bit concerned there. He finally woke up and didn’t know where he was at. And then when he rolled over, he had a lot of blood coming out of his eye.”

Donovan called Yeguete “doubtful” for Tuesday’s game and does not expect him to practice with the team on Sunday or Monday. Should he pass concussion tests mid-week, Florida could potentially have him active for Saturday’s game at Arkansas but could hold him out until next Tuesday’s game vs. Auburn.


» Donovan on how to “harden” the team: “That’s one of the greatest challenges and dilemmas in coaching there is. Because Joakim Noah and Al Horford, those guys weren’t hardened either. There is a mentality and an understanding of what really goes into a preparation to really go out there and win. I’m spending too much time in practice dealing with stuff I shouldn’t be dealing with instead of dealing with preparation. A lot of it is our maturity level and us growing up and growing through some of those things. […] Some teams have to go through that.”

» Donovan on if senior point guard Erving Walker is “hardened”: “Chandler Parsons was a great outlet for Erving Walker. Because when Erving got into maybe taking some quick, ill-advised shots and over-penetrating, [we could put it] in Chandler’s hands and facilitate offense through him a little bit and get Erv off the ball. It’s hard to do that with Brad there. […] From a verbal leadership standpoint, I’m not so sure that’s Erving’s makeup to kind of take over the team like that. I’ve probably got to help him in that area a little bit. The hardening part, I’m not so sure how hardened Erving is because there was always somebody to kind of help him through. But now a lot of this is kind of falling on his shoulders in terms of running our team. I got to do a better job somehow getting through to these guys about what this is about.”

» Donovan on what is “wrong” with sophomore center Patric Young: “He may have some foot issues. It may be bothering hm. I don’t think it’s bothering him. I think the biggest challenge Patric is dealing with is playing at an intensity level on a continual basis. There was one point there in the first half he played 18 minutes with one rebound. It’s hard for him. He’s a guy right now that’s really trying to figure out how to really play with that intensity level all the time. He’s shown spurts of doing it, but he’s unable to sustain it. Last year we could really do it where you could throw him in for 2-3 minutes. He would come in there, knock some people around, pick up a couple fouls, offensive rebound, dunk and all of a sudden he’d be gassed. Now because he’s playing between 24-28 minutes, you can see the great explosions and you can see the laboring. He’s got to learn how to push through fatigue and deal with the mental duress and those kinds of things. He’s got to grow in that area.”

» Freshman guard Bradley Beal on Donovan not being happy in the locker room: “No, not happy at all. We didn’t compete at all really. Our defensive press was really bad again. We really weren’t focused. We didn’t get any offense at all. We were jacking up shots. Our mentality throughout the whole game, we weren’t focused mentally at all. It started in practice a couple days ago. We really weren’t focused and weren’t playing hard. It showed tonight.”

» Beal on if depth issues can be blamed: “It was difficult, but at the same time it’s not an excuse. We go through situations like this in practice. Guys get hurt in practice and other guys have to step in. everybody has to be ready to play and we just have to work with what we have.”

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Tennessee stuns No. 7/8 Florida 75-70 at home

The Tennessee Volunteers travelled to Gainesville, FL on Saturday looking to win their first road game of the year while sweeping the No. 7/8 Florida Gators in the season series between the two teams for the first time since 2009. Tennessee succeeded in both of those goals, snapping Florida’s 19-game home winning streak at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center with a dominant 75-70 victory and handing UF back-to-back losses for the first time in two seasons.

The Volunteers (13-12, 5-5 SEC) upended the Gators (19-6, 7-3 SEC) with stellar defense and relentless effort on the offensive glass. Tennessee outrebounded Florida 36-30 (12-6 offensively) and also outscored the home team 36-14 in the paint and 17-8 on second chances. The Gators struggled shooting the ball for the second-straight game, connecting on just 42.6 percent of their field goals and 36.7 percent of their attempts from downtown.

Despite donning special Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms and having an excited crowd behind them, Florida got off to an extremely slow start, hitting just four of their first 14 attempts from the field and falling behind 12 points to Tennessee, which used an impressive 15-2 run to jump out to the early lead.

During the Volunteers’ scoring stretch, Gators sophomore forward Will Yeguete went up for a block and fell down onto the court, hitting the top of his head into the stand supporting the basket. After being checked out by trainers, Yeguete left the game and never returned. He had a cut above his right eye, received stitches in the locker room and may have also suffered a concussion.

Yeguete’s injury forced him to become the third Florida player sitting out for the game as redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) and redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (illness) did not dress for the contest.

UF began cutting down their deficit in the middle of the first half, but a 7-0 run by UT put the visitors ahead 15 points, 33-18 with 5:04 left until the break. Tennessee increased their lead to 17 with less than two minutes to go, but Florida found some offense late, ending the half on an 8-2 run – including a pair of triples by junior G Kenny Boynton – to trail by 11 at the half.

The Gators got within 10 of the Volunteers soon after coming out of the break when senior point guard Erving Walker drained a three that moved him into No. 5 on Florida’s all-time scoring list ahead of Dwayne Schintzius. However, Tennessee continued to pile it on and went back ahead 16 with 6:01 to play, keeping UF at more than an arm’s length for the duration of the contest.

Cutting their deficit to nine twice due in part to a pair of threes by junior F Erik Murphy, the Gators wound up falling by just five despite the Volunteers holding on for victory by hitting their foul shots and playing sound defense until the buzzer.

Tennessee G Trae Golden led all scorers with 17 points due to going 9-of-11 from the charity stripe. F Jeronne Maymon was dominant in the paint for the Vols, scoring 15 points and grabbing a game-high 11 boards.

Boynton and freshman G Bradley Beal, who hit 11-of-13 free throws, each posted 16 points for Florida. The Gators’ starting five accounted for 12 of the team’s 15 turnovers and all but 10 of the team’s points.

Florida will attempt to rebound from a pair of tough losses this past week by taking their game on the road Tuesday against Alabama (7 p.m. on ESPN) and Thursday against Arkansas (6 p.m. ESPN2). The Gators are expected to fall sharply when the new top 25 polls are released on Monday.

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Florida looking for revenge vs. Tennessee

Coming off a tough loss to the consensus No. 1 team in the country, the No. 7/8 Florida Gators are looking to avenge their first Southeastern Conference loss of the season by hosting the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media late in the week to discuss a number of topics.


Donovan continues to be pleased with how the Gators rebound from tough losses (When we’ve lost, we’ve come back and we’ve tried to get better.”) but is not nearly as happy with the way Florida handled Kentucky’s onslaught during the game on Tuesday. He believes the team did not respond the same way they did in-game against Ohio State and Syracuse, two contests in which they fought back until the final buzzer.

“You’re going to have some games where you don’t shoot the ball well, and we did not shoot the ball well. Some of it had to do with Kentucky’s defense and some of it had to do with we didn’t make shots,” he said. “The plays that hurt us more than the missed shots – because that’s going to be part of the game, you’re always going to have that – were our turnovers or a bad drive or a blocked shot that gapped them out in transition.”

Donovan continued, “There’s got to be better resiliency in those situations. Everything’s a grind and everything’s a struggle. It’s a lot easier playing [defense] when the ball goes in the basket. For those guys, they probably thought they were playing fairly decently for a while but there’s no question there has to be at tough mental fortitude to move past this and find a way collectively as a group to keep ourselves in the game. That was the thing I was most disappointed about in the game.”

He believes that Florida “got away from focusing” on the little things during the game and was completely disconnected as a team, something that the Gators will have to prevent from happening Saturday if they find themselves down against the Volunteers.

“We have a group of guys that really care that are good kids that want to do well. What happens is you can go into a game – and I think this did happen in the Kentucky game – we went into the game with fractured minds,” he explained.

“What I mean by that is nothing to do with adversity or anything else. We went in there where each guy wanted to do his part and to play well. What happens is you’re playing the game as a group of individuals – not with any bad intentions. You have to have, in that kind of environment against a really good team like that, five guys unified mentally in the game about what is going on.”


» Tennessee leads the all-time series against Florida 70-52 though the teams are an even 16-16 since Donovan took over UF’s program. The Gators had won four-straight games against the Volunteers before falling on the road at Knoxville to open SEC play.
» Florida is 13-0 at the O’Dome this season and trying to continue a 19-game winning streak in the House of Horrors.
» The Gators will be wearing special Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms for Saturday’s game, which you can take a look at by clicking here.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 16 of 24 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 675 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» The Gators are 284-37 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points.
» Florida is one victory away from winning 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season, which is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.


Senior point guard Erving Walker is steadily making his way up a number of Florida’s career lists. Below are some of the marks he is about to pass in UF’s record books.

» Assists: Walker (496) can move into No. 1 all-time with eight dimes, passing Ronnie Montgomery (503).
» Minutes: Walker (3,932) can move into No. 2 all-time with 32 minutes on the court, passing Chandler Parsons (3,964).
» Three-pointers made: Walker (264) can move into No. 3 all-time with four treys, passing Anthony Roberson (267).
» Scoring: Walker (1,620) can move into No. 5 all-time with five points, passing Dwayne Schintzius (1,624).
» Free throws made: Walker (400) can move into No. 7 all-time with 12 makes from the charity stripe, passing Dan Cross (411).
» Free throws attempted: Walker (506) can move into No. 9 all-time with nine foul shots, passing David Lee (514).
» Walker is also near the top 10 all-time in games started (four away), field goal attempts (28 away) and steals (six away).


» Donovan said sophomore center Patric Young’s early foul trouble in games is what has prevented him from achieving high rebounding numbers recently.

» He believes the Gators must do a much better job defending the three seeing as opponents have been shooting quite well from long range against UF in SEC play.

» On why redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson is not seeing much time on the court: “Cody keeps getting better. One of the things that’s hard sometimes – unless I can get him in the flow – sometimes I feel like I’m putting him into a situation where I throw him in there and he’s sat for 30 minutes and I might be setting him up for failure a little bit. I got to find him a way to plug him in sooner. When Murphy’s not in foul trouble and he’s on the floor, it adds a different element to us offensively whereas Cody doesn’t bring that element. Cody, I think, probably needs to be backing up Patric some.”

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