No. 11 Florida Gators vs. FSU Seminoles

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

TV: ESPNU
SiriusXM: 219/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(11) FLORIDA GATORS FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton
Record: 9-2 Record: 8-3
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -9.5; O/U 138

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before the big game? No problem. OGGOA has been here all season long compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Thursday evening.

Donovan’s MVSU notes, Florida State preview | Texas A&M post-game notes

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Florida State 40-22, sporting a 9-6 record against their in-state rival under Donovan and a 19-6 record at home in Gainesville. FSU, however, holds a 3-2 advantage in the last five meetings but has only beat a ranked UF team in the O’Connell Center once.
» The Gators are 97-6 against non-conference opponents in the O’Dome since 1999.
» UF has won 11-straight games at the O’Connell Center.
» The Gators have made a three in 662 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» Florida has connected on 10 or more treys in nine of 11 games this season, failing to do so only against Syracuse and Arizona. Hitting double-digit threes in six-straight games is the longest streak under Donovan.
» Three Gators are shooting better than 40 percent from three (minimum 10 attempts).
» UF has outrebounded 10 of 11 opponents this season.
» The Gators have the second-best winning percentage against ranked opponents (.551) among SEC teams dating back to 1999-2000.
» Florida is ranked No. 3 in scoring offense (86.5 points), No. 12 in scoring margin (19.6 points), No. 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52), No. 12 in assists (17.8) and No. 1 in three-pointers (11.3 per game) nationally as of Dec. 18. The Gators are also 302nd (out of 338 teams) in free throw shooting (61.8 percent).
» Florida State is ranked No. 3 in field goal defense (34.2 percent), No. 14 in three-point defense (25.8 percent) and No. 7 in blocked shots (7.0) nationally as of Dec. 18.
» FSU is on a three-game winning streak after dropping three consecutive contests including two at home in the month of November. All three teams the Seminoles lost to are currently or were previously ranked this season.
» Florida State has 10 players who see double-digit minutes on average.
» The Seminoles are the third winnings program in the ACC since 2008-09, only behind Duke and North Carolina.
» FSU is first in the ACC in field goal defense, blocked shots and steals; third in three-point defense, scoring margin and rebound margin; and fourth in scoring defense.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Florida State last squared off a year ago with the Gators earning a four-point victory over the Seminoles even though they were outscored 30-25 in the second half. Kenny Boynton led the way for UF with 14 points, but Erik Murphy’s putback of a missed shot with 16 seconds left in the contest helped seal the victory for Florida. FSU only shot 33.3 percent on the evening with Chris Singleton making just 2-of-12 shots. Though the Seminoles cut the Gators’ lead to one point with less than three minutes to play, they never managed to negate Florida’s lead and fell at home to the No. 16-ranked Gators.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior point guard Erving Walker (#11)…who is the longest tenured player on the team having appeared in 118 consecutive games with 57-straight starts. A shoot-first player much of his career, Walker has been tasked with distributing the ball and managing the game this year. He is the SEC’s active leader in minutes (3,527) and treys (240) but also ranks second in points (1,490), assists (432) and steals (136) as well as third in free throws (374). Walker is No. 12 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No. 4 in assists, No. 8 in free throws, No. 5 in threes made, No. 4 in treys attempted (628) and No. 7 in minutes. He is the only player on the team making more than three quarters of his free throws (82.1 percent).
» Junior guard Kenny Boynton (#1)…who is a dynamic scorer and just the second starter returning from a year ago. Boynton is working on his consistency this season and is already shooting better than he has throughout his career (49.6 percent from the field and 46.6 percent from downtown). He is the best defender on the Gators and is often put on the opponent’s best backcourt playmaker. Boynton currently ranks fifth in the SEC among active players in points (1,207) and third in three-pointers (193). He has hit a trey in 26-straight games and is the SEC’s second-leading scorer averaging 18.7 points per game. Boynton is No. 7 on UF’s list for threes made.
» Freshman G Bradley Beal (#23)…who is starting at the three for Florida fresh out of high school. Beal was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, one of the top five players in the country, and is arguably the most talented player to sign with the Gators since Donovan took over. He is averaging 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 69.4 percent from the line (second best on the team) while playing a team-high 33.0 minutes per gam.e
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joined the starting lineup this year after being the primary frontcourt reserve as a freshman. Young saw action in all 37 games as a freshman, averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in limited action. He has four double-doubles on the season and scored a career-high 25 points against Arizona. Young is posting averages of 11.0 points, 7.5 boards and 1.4 blocks per game.
» Sophomore forward Will Yeguete (#15)…who is Florida’s do-everything player, averaging 5.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 20.8 minutes per game. The Gators’ primary frontcourt reserve, Yeguete has started a few games due to injury.
» Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (#3)…who is finally playing for Florida after transferring out of Rutgers and sitting out the 2010-11 season. Rosario scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons with his former team and averaged 16.7 points per game during his sophomore year. He is the Gators’ de facto sixth man and is seeing 17.1 minutes of court time each game, averaging 9.4 points while shooting 46.6 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc.

FLORIDA STATE
» F Bernard James (#5)…who is the Noles’ consummate big man, averaging 10.5 points and 9.2 boards each contest while also adding 2.6 blocks. James, who has netted five double-doubles this year (including two sets of consecutive ones), hits 59.8 percent of his field goals but only shoots 45.0 percent from the line.
» G Michael Snaer (#21)…who leads Florida State in points per game (13.2) and minutes (30.5), also nabbing 4.5 rebounds while shooting team-highs from the line (90.9 percent) and downtown (36.8 percent). All of those numbers are career-highs for Snaer, who hit a clutch three-pointer in the last minute of the game against Florida last year.

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FOUR BITS: Noah, chomp, strength, baseball

1 » Participating in a preseason game for the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night, former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah gave Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough a bit of a reality check as he stuffed his shot right at the basket. Check out the video below:

2 » Appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno alongside play-by-play man Al Michaels last Thursday, former Florida wide receiver and current NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth discussed getting into broadcasting and the play of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. The entire show is viewable below; however, if you are just interested in watching Collinsworth do the Gator Chomp upon entering the studio, skip to 18:55 (thanks to OGGOA reader Eli M. for the heads-up).

3 » As the Gators look for a replacement for strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, one name that a source close to the program told OGGOA is in contention for the position is former director of strength and conditioning at Appalachian State Jeff Dillman. An assistant strength coach at LSU when now-Florida head coach Will Muschamp was an assistant under Nick Saban, Dillman played football at Elon and Appalachian State, was also an assistant strength coach at Louisiana-Monroe and is now the head of physical conditioning for the IMG Performance Institute. OGGOA reached out to Dillman, but our message has not been returned as of press time.

4 » With football season coming to an end and basketball in full swing, baseball is next on the docket among the major Gators sports programs. Florida got an early start to what is expected to be another stellar season by earning a No. 1 preseason ranking in Collegiate Baseball’s “Fabulous 40” poll. The Gators, which were swept in the 2011 College World Series Championship Series by South Carolina, will begin the season ranked one spot ahead of the Gamecocks, CB ranks the No. 2 team into the country. Florida is stocked full of talent on the mound, in the batter’s box and on the field and will likely be the national pick to win the 2012 title.

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Florida’s post-game notes; Donovan talks absences, Florida State game

With No. 11/12 Florida Gators basketball set to host the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles on Thursday, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Tuesday to discuss what preparations he and the team are making for the squad’s next game.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES

Redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (back) and redshirt freshman center Cody Larson (strep throat) both sat out Monday’s game against Mississippi Valley State, and Donovan was not too confident that either would return for Florida State calling them both “doubtful” in his post-game press conference. He expanded on that thought Tuesday:

“Right now he’s out today,” Donovan said of Rosario, whose preseason back injury flared up on him after the Texas A&M game. “He’s not going to practice today. If he can’t do anything tomorrow in practice, then I’m probably not going to play him. He’d have to at least show me some things that he can at least get back [into the flow].”

He also said that Larson will probably miss the game mostly due to his need to gain strength back after an illness. “Cody’s doing better. We’ll have to see what he does in practice,” Donovan said. “He’s lost a lot of weight. He’s going to be drained. I imagine conditioning is going to be a problem. Whether or not he can really provide anything for us, I think I’ll have a better feel tomorrow after practice.”

PLAYING ON THANKSGIVING WEEKEND

For the first time years the basketball game between Florida and Florida State is not being played on Thanksgiving weekend. This is something the Seminoles have recently changed their minds about, and Donovan gave some insight into why head coach Leonard Hamilton might feel like moving the game to another weekend is a better option.

“Leonard’s view is he wants that game to kind of stand on its own two legs by itself,” he said Tuesday. “I get that, and I understand it and certainly respect it, but I’ve also been in this state long enough [to know] that you get a lot of people traveling in for that game football and basketball wise. I always thought it was a great weekend.”

Donovan said that, despite this year’s game being scheduled in December, the Gators plan to play the game on Thanksgiving weekend when they host FSU in 2013 and 2015. However, he has no problem if Florida State does not do the same in 2012 and 2014.

“I’m just looking at the best environment for both teams,” he said. “There’s a great environment in Tallahassee when it’s the Friday before the football game; there’s a great environment here. I just think it’s a great time to play. Right now during these times you got students missing and things like that.”

Donovan added that his preference for that date is his own opinion and pointed to Lon Kruger and Pat Kennedy choosing to play the annual contest in Orlando, FL when they coached UF and FSU, respectively.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On how Florida opened the game strong: “They showed a level of maturity. […] I thought our focus, our energy and how they tried to play the game was really good.”

» On the Gators’ free throw shooting: “The last two games we’ve shot well from the free throw line. Those guys have focused on it; I think they realized they got to get better at it. […] I certainly don’t think we’re a 59 percent free throw shooting team. We’re probably somewhere in the middle. They’ve focused on it and they’re getting better at it. That’s been encouraging.”

» On why Florida ran sprints before the second half: “These guys are all warmed up and they’re lathered up before the game starts, but the opposite happens in the second half. We’ve got to find a way to get them [going]. Some if it is their responsibility, too, to get themselves ready to go. I was disappointed the way we came back out the second half against [Texas] A&M, and I told the strength coach we need to get these guys moving around better.”

» On the leap that junior G Kenny Boynton has taken this year: “Because of the way we play, there’s a lot of freedom that I give our guys. Obviously I was a guard and there’s nothing worse than looking over your shoulder wanting to know if you’re coming in or out of a game because of a shot. So much of what we’re doing is predicated on concepts and spacing and positioning on the floor and different things are happening that these guys got to make reads. For Kenny, like anything else, when you first come to college you’re going to rely on what you’ve always relied on until you get enough experience under your belt to start to understand those things. For Kenny, he was pretty much just a three-point shooter as a freshman. Now he’s starting to pull up, he’s starting to get drives to the basket, he’s starting to make threes, he’s starting to understand shot selection and understand – more importantly – the length of time of a game.”

» On Florida State’s defense: “They’re disciplined. that’s the biggest thing they know what they’re doing. They got great length, great size. They have shot blocking at the basket, so a lot of times your numbers are going to be predicated on how well you do at the basket.”

» On why practice wasn’t “cancelled” on Tuesday: “I wouldn’t say practice is cancelled. The contact and the banging was probably a little bit cancelled right now. We obviously had a week of practice going into A&M; we had three really hard days going into that game. We had a real hard practice going into this game last night and played last night somewhat shorthanded with Mike and Cody being out. Right now more for us is more of a mental day of things we need to do mentally to get prepared to play on Thursday.”

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No. 11/12 Gators clobber Delta Devils 82-54

It was clobbering time at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Monday evening as the newly minted No. 11/12 Florida Gators (9-2) topped the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (1-9) 82-54.

Coming off an unexpectedly easy victory 84-64 against then-No. 22 Texas A&M on Saturday, Florida kept their focus in order to avoid a significant upset. The Gators responded to the challenge with all five starters scoring in double figures and combining to go 10-for-18 from downtown.

Florida opened the contest shooting as well as they have all season, hitting their first eight shots and 10-of-11 to take an early 21-4 lead. The Gators increased their advantage to 20 points minutes later when junior guard Kenny Boynton connected on his second triple and fourth basket of the game in under seven minutes.

After taking a 24-point lead just nine minutes into the game, Florida went on a bit of a scoring drought, allowing Mississippi Valley State to close their gap by five points in just over seven minutes. A trey by Boynton with 2:55 remaining gave the Gators their 24-point advantage back, one they would maintain through the end of the half.

Coming out of the break, Florida found their stroke again and stretched their lead to 34 thanks in part to four made three-pointers during a two-minute stretch early in the second half. Four free throws by senior point guard Erving Walker stretched the Gators’ advantage to a game-high 39 points with 10:25 remaining.

UF rested many of its starters (some of whom were in foul trouble) down the stretch and relented a bit on defense but still held on for the decisive victory. The Delta Devils were outscored 46-22 in the first half but just 36-32 in the final 20 minutes.

Walker led the way for the Gators with 19 points on 4-of-6 shooting (3-for-5 from downtown, 8-for-8 from the line) with three rebounds, three assists, two steals and three turnovers. Boynton scored 16 points to go along with four boards and four dimes.

Freshman G Bradley Beal was an efficient 3-for-4 from beyond the arc for 13 points with six rebounds, while sophomore center Patric Young added 12 points, eight boards and four assists. Junior forward Erik Murphy matched Young with eight rebounds and hit half of his shots for 11 points.

Freshman center Walter Pitchford and walk-on Jacob Kurtz each got a chance to play; Pitchford hit a layup while Kurtz connected on a pair of free throws. Neither redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (strained back) nor redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (strep throat) saw the court.

Florida outrebounded an opponent for the 10th time in 11 games this season, grabbing 13 more boards (41-28) than Mississippi Valley State. The Gators shot just a shade under 50 percent from downtown and connected on 10 treys, their ninth time hitting double-digit three-pointers this season.

The Delta Devils attempted 32 treys but hit just six of them, shooting a paltry 18.8 percent from downtown and 30.8 percent from the field.

UF will remain at home as they next host in-state rival Florida State on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will air live nationally on ESPNU.

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Florida rises in top 25 polls; Boynton’s awards

The sixth editions of the regular season USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press Top 25 Polls were released on Monday, and the Syracuse Orange maintained their spot as the No. 1 team in the country for the second week in a row.

The Florida Gators moved up slightly in both polls on the heels of an 84-64 victory over then-No. 22 Texas A&M. Florida is one of three Southeastern Conference teams listed in the respective rankings.

Additionally, Gators junior guard Kenny Boynton took home SEC Player of the Week honors after hitting 6-of-12 treys for 22 points and earning the MVP award in the 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic on Saturday.

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)-

USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES POLL
This Week 1-5: Syracuse (30), Ohio State (1), Kentucky, Louisville, Duke
6-10: North Carolina, Baylor, Missouri, Connecticut, Marquette
11-15: Kansas, Florida, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Xavier
16-20: Georgetown, Mississippi State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State
21-25: Creighton, Murray State, UNLV, Illinois, Harvard

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (28), Ohio State (2), Kentucky, Louisville, Duke
6-10: North Carolina, Baylor, Missouri, Xavier, Connecticut
11-15: Marquette, Kansas, Florida, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin
16-20: Mississippi State, Georgetown, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana
21-25: Alabama, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Creighton, Vanderbilt

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
This Week 1-5: Syracuse (53), Ohio State (5), Kentucky (4), Louisville (2), UNC
6-10: Baylor, Duke, Connecticut, Missouri, Marquette
11-15: Florida, Kansas, Wisconsin, Xavier, Pittsburgh
16-20: Georgetown, Indiana, Mississippi State, Michigan State, Michigan
21-25: UNLV, Murray State, Creighton, Virginia, Illinois

Last Week 1-5: Syracuse (51), Ohio State (7), Kentucky (4), Louisville (2), UNC (1)
6-10: Baylor, Duke, Xavier, Connecticut, Missouri
11-15: Marquette, Kansas, Florida, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh
16-20: Georgetown, Mississippi State, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan
21-25: Michigan State, Texas A&M, Alabama, Murray State, Creighton/Vanderbilt

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Florida vs. Texas A&M post-game notes

The No. 13 Florida Gators beat up on the No. 22 Texas A&M Aggies 84-64 on Saturday afternoon at the 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and game MVP junior guard Kenny Boynton shared their thoughts on the victory.

BOYNTON’s BIG HOMECOMING

For the second-straight year, Boynton returned home to South Florida and picked up the MVP award in the OBBC. He accomplished the feat this time around by, as Donovan said, playing within himself and not losing sight of what was important in the game.

“With Kenny playing here before and playing like he did a year ago, the thing I just told him [before the game] was to let the game come to you. Just play and just take what the defense is giving us and do what we’re doing. There’s going to be enough opportunities for him,” he said. “There’s a mindset you have to have. I don’t think it’s ever easy when you come back [and play at home]. One thing I told Patric Young when he went back to play at Jacksonville: ‘All those people in the stands – they’re still going to love you regardless of what happens.’ When you’re back home, you want to do well you want the team to do well. There is so much you want to happen in a positive way. It says a lot about Kenny mentally coming in, staying focused on what the team needed to do. As a result, he had a great game because I think he really played the right way.”

Boynton dropped six threes on his way to a team-high 22 points and was efficient from beyond the arc, appearing to take controlled, balanced shots at every opportunity. Donovan explained that his mindset has changed a lot this year – all for the better.

“When he’s got his legs under him and he’s on balance, he can make deep shots and if guys are closing to him, he can get it off. I’m really happy for him this year. It’s been a lot of fun for me as a coach,” he said. “When he got here as a freshman, he was such a prolific scorer and he did it from behind the line because he could get it off. He went through a great learning process where he had a chance to play a lot as a freshman and then last year he added some different things. Right now, offensively, he’s becoming more and more complete. His turnover ratio is really good. He’s making pull-up mid-range jump shots. He’s making runners. With him doing that, it’s opening up other areas for him behind the line. The biggest thing that he’s doing right now is he’s finally realizing how long a game is.”

REMEDYING THE FREE THROW WOES

The Gators entered Saturday’s game ranked 318th nationally in free throw shooting, hitting just about 59 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe. Florida did much better this week, shooting 77 percent (23-of-30) from the line, playing to Donovan’s opinion that UF is not as bad as it may seem in that area.

“We’re a better free throw shooting team than the stats show,” he said. Kenny’s a good free throw shooter, as is Erving [Walker]. Brad [Beal] made his free throws; he was 6-for-6. I think Will [Yeguete] and Pat need to continue to get better. It was good to see that Casey [Prather] missed his first two; he came back and made two later. How good of a free throw shooting team are we percentage-wise? I know we’re better than 59 percent. They’ve worked at it, they’ve put the time in and we need to just keep doing that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on how Florida started the game: “I thought the first half was the best we’ve played all year.”

» Donovan on how the game went: “These guys offensively and defensively I thought played really well. I wish we would have handled the lead a little bit better coming out of the locker room. We shared it, we passed it, we moved it. We had inside-outside action. Kenny and Erving and Brad really did a great job, when they got in the lane they knew when to take it in the rim, when they got in the lane they knew when to throw it out to each other.”

» Donovan on having some early foul trouble: “Overall playing the game in the first half really without Patric against that kind of frontcourt, I thought our defense was disruptive enough with the press at half court that we were able to weather that battle with Will and Pat being in foul trouble.”

» Donovan on junior forward Erik Murphy returning to the starting lineup: “We do need Erik’s ability to shoot the ball, stretch the defense, size, rebounding. He can do some different things offensively. We needed to get him back in there. It was nothing that Will did wrong; actually Will did a great job in his absence.”

» Boynton on winning the MVP award: “It’s always great to come back home and have a great performance. This is our third year here. The first year we lost but the last years we won. I thought I played good overall, but I’m more happier with the win.”

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Boynton scores 22 as Florida routs Texas A&M

It was another happy homecoming for junior guard Kenny Boynton, who scored 22 points and earned his second-straight Orange Bowl Basketball Classic Most Valuable Player award as he led the No. 13 Florida Gators (8-2) in an 84-64 rout of the No. 22 Texas A&M Aggies (8-2) in Sunrise, FL on Saturday.

Boynton’s six three-pointers led the way for the Gators, which hit 11 treys on the afternoon and reached double digits in that category for their eighth time in 10 games. Florida shot 36 percent from the line, 48 percent from the floor and – more importantly – 77 percent from the free throw line (23-of-30).

The Gators outrebounded the Aggies 30-26, the ninth time in 10 games they have accomplished that feat despite often being at a size disadvantage.

Florida opened the game with a 9-1 run and, following a Texas A&M free throw, completed another 9-0 run to take an early 18-2 advantage. The Aggies missed their first seven shots and did not hit a field goal in the first eight minutes.

A stretch of three triples (two from Boynton, one from junior forward Erik Murphy) put UF well out in front near the end of the first half, and the Gators kept the pressure on in the second half to pull out the 20-point victory.

Senior point guard Erving Walker (9-for-10 from the charity stripe) and freshman G Bradley Beal (6-for-6 from the line) each scored 16 points; Walker added six assists, while Beal grabbed four rebounds, dished three dimes and notched three steals. Murphy finished 4-of-6 with 13 points and five rebounds.

Defeating their first ranked opponent of the season in their fourth neutral site game this year, Florida returns to Gainesville, FL for a two-game home stand beginning with Mississippi Valley State on Monday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida (check your local listings).

FLORIDA FAN HITS $25,000 HALF-COURT SHOT
Continue Reading » Boynton scores 22 as Florida routs Texas A&M

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No. 13 Florida Gators vs. No. 22 Texas A&M

Event: 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic
Location: BankAtlantic Center – Sunrise, FL [Capacity: 20,737]
Time: 2:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: FSN/Sun Sports
SiriusXM: 218/201
Live Updates: @OnlyGators (periodic score updates)

(13) FLORIDA GATORS (22) TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Billy Kennedy
Record: 7-2 Record: 8-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -11; O/U 145

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before the big game? No problem. OGGOA has been here all season long compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday afternoon.

Story: Florida extends Billy Donovan through 2015-16

Donovan on free throws, Boynton’s homecoming | Rider post-game notes

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Texas A&M are tied 1-1 in the all-time series between the two teams, each winning one game at home. This is the first time the schools will square off on a neutral court and the first time they will play at all since 1992.
» The Gators are 3-2 under Donovan against Big 12 teams and 13-10 all-time.
» Florida is 8-2 all-time in the OBBC and will be participating in the event for the 11th time in the last 12 years.
» The Gators have made a three in 660 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» Florida has connected on 10 or more treys in six of eight games this season, failing to do so only against Syracuse and Arizona. Hitting double-digit threes in six-straight games is the longest streak under Donovan.
» Three Gators players are shooting better than 40 percent from downtown.
» UF has outrebounded eight of nine opponents this season.
» Florida is ranked No. 3 in scoring offense (86.8 points), No. 11 in scoring margin (19.6 points), No. 6 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57), No. 10 in assists (18.3) and No. 2 in three-pointers (11.3 per game) nationally as of Dec. 11. The Gators are also 317th (out of 338 teams) in free throw shooting (59.6 percent).
» UF has the second-best winning percentage against ranked opponents (.546) among SEC teams dating back to 1999-2000.
» The Gators are the first ranked opponent the Aggies have played this season.
» Texas A&M is on a six-game winning streak.
» The Aggies are ranked No. 4 in scoring defense (51.4 points), No. 2 in field goal defense (33.4 percent) and No. 4 in three-point defense (23.6 percent) nationally as of Dec. 11. Texas A&M is also No. 7 in rebounding (41.3).
» More than half of the Aggies’ points this season have come in the paint (53.1 percent).
» Texas A&M has held their last five opponents to averages of 44 points per game, 30.4 percent shooting from the floor and 17.8 percent shooting from downtown.
» The Aggies are 8-0 when leading at halftime or with five minutes to play.
» Texas A&M is 6-0 when shooting more free throws than their opponent and 7-0 when out-rebounding their opponent.
» The Aggies are 23-31 all-time against SEC schools.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior point guard Erving Walker (#11)…who is the longest tenured player on the team having appeared in 116 consecutive games with 55-straight starts. A shoot-first player much of his career, Walker has been tasked with distributing the ball and managing the game this year. He is the SEC’s active leader in minutes (3,462) and treys (236) but also ranks second in points (1,455), assists (423) and steals (134) as well as third in free throws (357). Walker is No. 12 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No. 5 in assists, No. 8 in free throws, No. 5 in threes made, No. 4 in treys attempted (619) and No. 10 in minutes. He is the only player on the team making more than three quarters of his free throws (76.3 percent).
» Junior guard Kenny Boynton (#1)…who is a dynamic scorer and just the second starter returning from a year ago. Boynton is working on his consistency this season and is already shooting better than he has throughout his career (50.0 percent from the field and 45.7 percent from downtown). He is the best defender on the Gators and is often put on the opponent’s best backcourt playmaker. Boynton currently ranks fifth in the SEC among active players in points (1,169) and fourth in three-pointers (184). He has hit a trey in 25-straight games.
» Freshman G Bradley Beal (#23)…who is starting at the three for Florida fresh out of high school. Beal was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, one of the top five players in the country, and is arguably the most talented player to sign with the Gators since Donovan took over. He is averaging 15.1 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the line (second best on the team).
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joined the starting lineup this year after being the primary frontcourt reserve as a freshman. Young saw action in all 37 games as a freshman, averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in limited action. He has four double-doubles on the season and scored a career-high 25 points against Arizona. Young is posting averages of 11.6 points, 7.9 boards and 1.6 blocks per game.
» Sophomore forward Will Yeguete (#15)…who is Florida’s do-everything player, averaging 6.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals in 22.6 minutes per game. The Gators’ primary frontcourt reserve, Yeguete has been thrust into the starting lineup recently due to injury.
» Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (#3)…who is finally playing for Florida after transferring out of Rutgers and sitting out the 2010-11 season. Rosario scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons with his former team and averaged 16.7 points per game during his sophomore year. He is the Gators’ de facto sixth man and is seeing 17.7 minutes of court time each game, averaging 9.8 points while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc.

TEXAS A&M
» F Ray Turner (#35)…who is the Aggies tallest starter at 6’9” and is averaging 13 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 63.8 percent from the floor in 24 minutes per game. He will likely be tasked with going up against Young throughout the contest.
» F Khris Middleton (#22)…who returned to the starting lineup a week ago after missing seven games due to suffering a partially torn meniscus in the season opener. Middleton is averaging 15.0 points, 4.5 boards and a pair of assists in the two contests he played this year.
» G Elston Turner (#31)…who sees the court the most for Texas A&M, averaging 29.3 minutes per game. Turner averages 12.1 points, 3.4 boards and 2.2 dimes while shooting 40 percent from downtown and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe.

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