Forget Fredette, Tyus proves Gators are elite as Florida tops BYU 83-74 in overtime

Trying to avoid comparisons to a match-up between the same two teams in the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament all week, the Florida Gators found themselves in the same spot they were one year ago – tied with the Brigham Young Cougars at the end of regulation. However, No. 2-seed Florida (29-7) proved they are a more mature and composed team than they were last season, outscoring No. 3-seed BYU (32-5) by nine points in overtime to win the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament 83-74 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA on Thursday night.

Senior forward Alex Tyus led the Gators with the best game of his career, scoring 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds in an all-around effort that kept Florida in the game and helped them prevail in the end. UF’s guards were relentless on BYU star G Jimmer Fredette, who scored a game-high 32 points but did so on 11-of-29 shooting (3-for-15 from downtown) with six costly turnovers.

The Gators started out hot, hitting eight of their first nine shots from the field to take a 20-10 lead. A trio of three-pointers from Cougars G Jackson Emery kept the score close as Florida missed five-consecutive treys after starting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.

Fredette, who started out 0-for-6 and was blocked three times in first half, hit his first shot of the game with 6:17 left before the break. As he heated up, BYU took off on a 16-5 run to and jumped ahead 32-30 on UF. With under three minutes to play before halftime, Fredette hit two layups while senior F Chandler Parsons and junior point guard Erving Walker each dropped in a three for the Gators. Walker went to the line for a one-and-one at the end of the half but missed the front end to send the game into halftime tied at 36.

The Gators came out of the break with an 8-0 run to take a 44-39 lead. Fredette quickly responded with five-straight points – including his first trey after starting 0-for-5 from downtown – to bring his team within two with 15:12 remaining. A 6-0 run by the Cougars a few minutes later jumped them ahead 50-49, but Florida answered back with a 12-5 scoring streak to quickly retake the lead.

Down six, Brigham Young looked to Fredette to get them back in the contest; he answered the call, capping an 8-2 run with a 30-foot three-pointer to tie the game at 63 with 4:59 to play. He would go on to score 32 of his team’s final 47 points in regulation.

UF and BYU traded field goals and free throws from there, and the Gators led by one with under a minute left and the clock winding down.

Suddenly, after a missed triple by Walker, Tyus was called for a questionable over-the-back foul, which sent Cougars F Kyle Collinsworth to the line with a chance for his team to take the lead. Collinsworth proceeded to make his first free throw but missed his second to leave the game tied at 68 and the ball in the Gators’ hands.

UF head coach Billy Donovan immediately called a timeout to draw up a play for sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, who missed a three with 25 seconds left. Walker rushed across the court to get the long rebound, allowing Donovan to call a second timeout and create another play. Parsons got the ball, drove down the right side and missed a short jumper to send the contest into overtime. It was the third time in as many tries that Parsons missed a potential game-winner against BYU in regulation or extra time.

Florida started hot out of the gate in the final five minutes, knocking down four-straight points and concluding the game by outscoring Brigham Young 15-6 in overtime while holding Fredette scoreless.

Three other Gators starters scored in double figures to complement Tyus’s career-best performance. Boynton dropped in 17 points on a relatively poor shooting night (5-of-14 from the floor, 4-of-13 from downtown), though he did hit 3-for-4 from the line and scored five-straight in overtime. Walker and Parsons each finished with 16; Walker added six rebounds and five assists, while Parsons contributed nine boards and seven dimes.

Florida redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, who saw double teams in the post most of the night, was 4-for-5 from the field for nine points with five rebounds.

Fredette did not get much help from his squad offensively as none of his teammates posted double-digit points. Emery and F Noah Hartsock each contributed nine points, but it was Collinsworth came up big for Brigham Young with a team-high 15 boards.

UF was more efficient than BYU overall, hitting a better percentage of their shots both from the floor (.477-.352) and from beyond the arc (.324-.270). However, the Cougars kept it close by making the most of their chances from the charity stripe, connecting on 14-of-16 attempts (87.5 percent) compared to the Gators only hitting on 10-of-22 tries (45.5 percent). Florida outrebounded BYU 42-39, dished 10 more assists (23-13), smacked four more blocks (5-1) and committed seven fewer fouls (12-19).

The teams set a NCAA Tournament record by combining for 71 three-point attempts.

With the victory, the Gators advance from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in school history (1994, 2000, 2006-07). Florida has never in the Elite Eight, advancing to the Final Four on all four occasions.

UF will face No. 8-seed Butler on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The game will air live on CBS.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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2011 NCAA Tournament: (2) Florida vs. (3) BYU

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16
Location: New Orleans Arena – New Orleans, LA [Capacity: 18,500]
Time: 7:27 p.m. (EST)

TV: TBS/ TBSHD
Online Video: —->
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (3) BYU COUGARS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Dave Rose
Record: 28-7 Record: 32-4
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mountain West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3; O/U 149
Note: The line has fluctuated slightly since it was initially released, dropping as low as -2 but as high as -4. You can bet on College Basketball at BetUS! The Gators are currently the second-most wagered-on team of the day and could cover for the spread for the third-straight game in the tournament.

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is making its second-straight and 16th overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Gators are 31-13 all-time in the event with two national titles, three championship game appearances and four Final Four appearances.
» UF has advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinal for the seventh time in school history. The No. 2 seed is their second-highest opening position in school history, and their .705 all-time NCAA Tournament winning percentage is the highest in SEC history in front of Kentucky (.695) and Auburn (.600).
» BYU is making its 26th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Cougars are 14-28 all-time in the event and have earned a berth in eight of the last 11 seasons. The No. 3 seed is their highest in school history; they earned the same rank in 1980.
» Florida and BYU are meeting for the fourth time in the history of the two programs. The Cougars are 3-0 all-time against the Gators with all games being played at neutral sites. Before squaring off in 2010, the teams had not met since 1991 and prior to that 1959. BYU’s win last year in the tournament was their first since 1993.
» The two teams share the UCLA Bruins as a common opponent during the season. Florida defeated UCLA 73-65 on Saturday, and BYU lost to them 86-79 back on Dec. 18.
» Donovan is 24-8 all-time in the tournament including two national championships and three Final Four appearances. His .750 winning percentage at the Big Dance is fourth among active coaches and second all-time among SEC coaches. He is also the youngest active coach to win a national title (age 40 in 2006).
» The Gators are 15-3 against the 2011 NCAA field and finished the regular season with the third outright SEC championship in school history (1989, 2007). Florida has captured five overall SEC titles including four under Donovan (2000, 2001, 2007, 2011).
» UF averages a +14.0-point margin of victory in 24 NCAA wins under Donovan. They have not allowed a team to connect on more than six threes in the last seven games.
» The Gators are 23-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points this year.
» Florida has won 20 of their last 24 games (and 12 of their last 14 – only losses coming to Kentucky) including 17 against RPI top 100 teams.
» The Gators are the only NCAA Division I team not to have a player foul out of a game this season. They lead the nation in fewest fouls committed per game (14.5).
» UF is 10-3 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. He has moved into the top 20 in school history in scoring (1,419 points) and is the only active Division I player with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 125 steals. He also became the sixth player in school history with 500+ career field goals.
» Brigham Young senior guard Jimmer Fredette holds the school’s career, single-season and single-game scoring records.
» BYU bests Florida in three of four major national statistical categories. The Cougars lead the Gators in points per game 81.6-71.5 (8th-98th), rebounding 38.7-37.5 (16th-49th) and assists per contest 14.5-13.7 (65th-106th); however, Florida shoots better as a team from the field .462-.452 (51st-91st). The Gators also lead the Cougars in scoring defense with 62.7-67.4 points per game and rebound margin +5.9 to +3.0. Brigham Young, on the other hand, turns the ball over less per game 10.9-12.3 and forces more miscues 14.4-12.5. UF ranks 10th in RPI (.6353) and sixth in strength of schedule nationally compared to BYU being fifth (.6462) and 22nd, respectively.

LAST TIME OUT…

Florida and BYU met in the opening game in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Gators had opportunities to win the contest at the end of regulation and conclusion of the first overtime, but Parsons missed both shots and the Cougars pulled away during the second overtime to earn a hard-fought 99-92 victory. Fredette led the way for his squad with 37 points including two treys in the second OT (he only hit one the rest of the game), helping his team outscore UF 18-11 in the final five minutes.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

Coming out of the MWC, No. 3-seed BYU defeated No. 14-seed Wofford 74-66 in first round action before thrashing No. 11-seed Gonzaga 89-67 in the round of 32. Fredette finished 7-for-12 from downtown and 11-of-23 from the floor; though he had trouble in the first half, he found his stride later in the game. The Cougars finished the regular season as a top-10 team and co-MWC regular season champions, splitting the honor with San Diego State. BYU is 9-2 against teams ranked in the RPI top 50.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection…who is averaging double-digit points (11.4) while leading the Gators with 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He is sporting a 15:4 assist-to-turnover ratio in the NCAA Tournament, which is much improved compared to his season average.
» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who was marred in a shooting slump but has rebounded and is still leading his team in scoring with 14.7 points per game while also leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.421) and three-point percentage (.393). Walker also leads Florida in both turnovers (82) and steals (39). He is shooting 62.5 percent (10-of-16) from the field and 63.6 percent (7-of-11) from downtown in the NCAA Tournament. Walker is averaging a team-best 19.5 points in those games while also hitting 80 percent (12-of-15) of his attempts from the line.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but was struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is shooting 38.2 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 14.0 points per game and makes a team-high 82.4 percent of his free throws. He has scored in double figures in 14-straight games and has made at least one three-pointer in each of those contests.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 58.1 percent from the floor as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 5.4 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage and is the only starter who does not score in double digits. He averages just 8.6 points and 5.7 boards each game.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17.5 minutes per game. Wilbekin leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33:1), while Young averages 3.5 points and 3.8 boards.
» BYU’s Fredette…the 2011 MWC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-MWC First Team selection…who is averaging a team-high 28.8 points in 35.5 minutes per game while also leading his squad with 4.3 assists each contest. Fredette shoots 45.5 percent from the field, an astounding 40.6 percent from beyond the arc and also hits 89.1 percent of his free throw attempts.
» Cougars G Jackson Emery…who is second on the team to Fredette in points (12.6), assists (2.7) and free throw shooting (82.9 percent). He averages 32.5 minutes each game and hits 35.9 percent from downtown.
» BYU F Noah Hartsock…who is the team’s leading rebounder with Brandon Davies on suspension. Hartsock grabs 5.9 boards per contest and is the team’s best three-point shooter on average with 44.6 percent accuracy. He scores 8.6 points per game, shoots 50.4 percent from the field and makes 82.1 percent of his shots from the charity stripe.

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Florida Gators ready for Sweet 16 tip-off vs. BYU

With the 2011 NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional Semifinal game between the No. 2-seed Florida Gators (28-7) and No. 3-seed BYU Cougars (32-4) just hours away from getting underway, there are a number of storylines being discussed going into the contest. OGGOA has compiled some of the latest news and notes surrounding the Florida-BYU game airing live on TBS Thursday evening at 7:27 p.m.

WHAT SORE ANKLE?

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton sprained his ankle on Saturday against UCLA, but if you ask him or his teammates how he’s doing, you would never know he hurt it in the first place. “[He’s] fine. You couldn’t even tell that he twisted it,” senior forward Alex Tyus said. Boynton was 100 percent positive he would be playing without any issues on Thursday. “My status is good. I practiced fully [Wednesday],” he said. “I did every drill. I’m going to be good tomorrow. I’m confident.”

Head coach Billy Donovan provided a more substantial update on Boynton’s health and mobility. “He was in a position to practice [Tuesday], and the trainer wanted to hold him out and rest him another day. He went through practice [Tuesday] without any contact. All the running drills, moving drills, shooting drills, he did all those things. [Wednesday] he was full go. He was in full contact,” Donovan said. “He appeared to be moving well, has not said or given me any indication he’s having any issues or any problems with his ankle. We expect him to be fine [Thursday] night and to be able to play. He probably could have gone [Tuesday], but they just wanted to give him that extra time to at least get back in the flow, move, shoot, cut and then see if there was any kind of lasting effect from the injury, and there didn’t seem to be. […] I didn’t notice anything differently with him favoring it, him trying to protect himself at all today in practice. He did everything that everybody else did and was in there the whole entire time.”

REVENGE? WHAT 2010 GAME?

Like Boynton’s ankle, Florida’s loss in the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Tournament to BYU never happened if you talk to the Gators starters. Not only is UF not out for “revenge,” they are confident that there are few similarities between the two contests.

“We pretty much put that game in the past,” redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin said. “Coach Donovan told us it happened last year, and it was a great game. […] We’re just going to try to go out there and play defense because it’s a great team. We’re going to put that game in the past and just get ready to play. […] There’s no revenge. It’s just a regular game for us. And for them, also. The game happened last year was a great game. We lost first round of the tournament; they went on and won. But it’s no revenge, we just want to go out there and play against anybody and it happens to be BYU and they’re ready to play and we’re ready to play.”

Tyus and fellow senior F Chandler Parsons echoed Macklin’s sentiments on the subject. “We’re just excited to play tomorrow. No revenge. It could have been anybody we were going to play against, and we’re just ready to play tomorrow,” Tyus said after Parsons provided his own thoughts. “Us going into the game, we’re just worried about their team this year. We can’t be worried about what we did good last year, what we did bad last year,” he said. “We’ve just got to come in. We have a new team; they have a new team, new personnel. So it’s just going to be us against them. We’re playing them right now, so that’s all we can worry about. We can’t worry about the past or the future.”

Donovan remembers that game and notices that the Cougars are much improved from a year ago even though there won’t be any carry over. “They’re better because [their players have improved]. They are a physical team. They’re a very aggressive team. They’re a great steal team,” he said. “We’re not playing the same team we played a year ago; we’re playing a team that’s better than they were a year ago. So for us, and I’ve said to people, unless they’re going to take points from the last time we played them or rebounds or assists, that game has nothing to do with this game tomorrow. What we can take from the game is having a familiarity in terms of their personnel.”

That being said, the Gators have also vastly improved and are entering the contest with a different mindset. ”We’re more focused coming into this game,” Boynton said. “We’re mature. We’re focused more on defense, taking more charges than we did last year. We’re ready to play.” Added Walker, “We’ve been doing a great job all year with scouting. This week has been no different. Coach prepared us very well and we should be ready to go come [Thursday] night.”

TYUS “SACRIFICING” FOR THE TEAM

Though his numbers may be the worst in his college career, the intangibles Tyus has been bringing to the court night-in and night-out are being overlooked by many – just not his teammates. “Alex is doing a great job right now. We love the way he is playing. He brings a lot of energy from the tip to the end of the game,” Macklin said. “He’s all about winning. I don’t think numbers matter to any of us,” Parsons added. “He’s really bought in to our whole system and what he needs to do. He’s done a great job and brings energy every game, great defense. We wouldn’t be here without him.”

Tyus scoffs at the notion that he is doing any sacrificing, saying he is just doing what is needed to help the team win. “I really wouldn’t think of it much as sacrifice. Those different things of helping the team win, those are easy,” he said. “Trying to get offensive rebounds and trying to do well on defense and trying to bring energy is something that comes natural for me. That helped a lot to get just to this point. A lot of the guys have been doing well, helping me out as far as telling me they need me. We’re doing great, and I’m really happy about it.” Because of those efforts, Tyus feels his performance this year has been as good – if not better – than prior seasons. “It’s been a great year. I’ve grown a lot as a player just trying to do other things to impact the game and impact winning,” he said. “Whenever you make it to the Sweet 16 and you’re starting and helping the team get to this point, it definitely feels like my best year.”

GUARDING FREDETTE

Florida will be guarding BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette as a team, but most of the onus will fall on Boynton’s shoulders. Watching extensive film on his opponent over the last week, he has noticed changes in his game and has decided to adapt his defensive mindset against him. “He’s definitely more aggressive,” Boynton said of Fredette. “Last year he was scoring, but he’s way more aggressive this year. He’s expanded his range – shooting from very deep. Overall he’s gotten better as a player.” How will he combat that? “Last year I didn’t really know too much. I’ve seen him a lot this year. I’m going to try to pick him up at half court this year and make it tough for him – every shot he shoots. That’s the main thing – making him take tough shots.”

Junior point guard Erving Walker, who likes to shoot from well beyond the three-point line as well, noticed that Fredette takes it a step further. “We can’t pick him up at the three-point line, because he’ll shoot it just as he cross half court. That’s a strength of his,” he said.

BIG STAGE FOR THE FRESHMEN

For freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young, Thursday’s tip will be the most important basketball game – on the largest stage – that either has participated in. This is not a fact lost on the youngsters who average over 17 minutes per game off the bench.

“There was a state championship in high school in AAU, but it was nothing like being in the Sweet 16,” Wilbekin noted. “It’s still basketball, so you just got to play your game and play hard.” Young has a similar mindset. “I’m just taking it one step at a time,” he said. “Nothing in my life has been like this – on such a large scale. This is the biggest basketball game I’ve ever been in, but I’m not going to let it affect how I play.”

QUOTES

Parsons on BYU aside from Fredette: “We had so many careless turnovers where it led to easy baskets for them. People always underestimate everyone on their team. And I think we’ve got a good understanding going in there how good they are from playing them last year. And it’s just not Jimmer Fredette, the other guys are very good players and they understand their role, and they don’t get a lot of credit, but we’re not just focused on Jimmer, we’re focused on their entire team.”

Tyus on BYU aside from Fredette: “A lot of people lose sight of how good the other guys are playing off of Jimmer, and I feel like the key to doing a good job on them is to stop the other guys, too.”

Donovan on facing BYU in 2010 compared to 2011: “We realize going into the game that we’re going to have to play a lot better than we did a year ago, and in the game we played a year ago, we didn’t win. I think coming out of that game we can probably at least have a feel of size, athleticism. There’s a little bit of familiarity in terms of style of play, and I do think at this time in the NCAA Tournament where a lot of times there’s not a lot of familiarity because you’re seeing opponents that maybe you see on TV and don’t know a lot about. So we’re playing against a terrific team. We’re excited about the opportunity to play and advance to this point in time, and we’re playing against a team that you win 30-plus games in this day and age in college basketball, they’re very good.


 

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3/23: Florida’s Sweet 16 press conference quotes

Arriving in New Orleans, LA for their Sweet 16 match-up against the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan along with senior Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin met with the media to discuss a number of topics. OGGOA has compiled most of those quotes for you below (click the link below) with the rest coming in a post Thursday afternoon.

Continue Reading » 3/23: Florida’s Sweet 16 press conference quotes

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Taurean Green: “We knew nobody could beat us.”

Overseas in Spain starting every game for C.B. Gran Canaria 2014 of the ACB, former Florida Gators two-time National Championship-winning point guard Taurean Green took some nearly 45 minutes out of his busy schedule to sit down with OGGOA for a wide-ranging, in-depth interview late Tuesday evening.

Green, one of the four members of the Oh Fours and an integral part to the team’s success from 2005-07, discussed at length his college career and continuing relationship with his Gators teammates and coaches. He also provided some insight into what the current team is going through during their 2011 NCAA Tournament run and how they can improve going forward and make the most out of their opportunity.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: With your father being a former NBA player and college coach as your adviser, what was it about Florida and Billy Donovan that had you winding up playing for the Gators out of high school?
TAUREAN GREEN: “Obviously Coach Donovan was a huge factor, the style of play, Coach [Anthony] Grant was a huge factor, too. It was just basically the style of play, how they get up-and-down [the court], and he’s a guard’s coach. I knew that he played for a great coach in Rick Pitino at Providence, and then he played some years in the NBA. Just from what everybody told me and from what I heard, he’s a guard’s coach and you’ll definitely get better [playing for him]. He’ll give you freedom out there but along with the freedom comes responsibility in running the team.”

AS: Your first year at Florida was obviously an adjustment as there were still a bunch of upperclassmen holding starting roles on the team. How was it walking into a team with established guys like David Lee, Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson already comfortable with each other and running the show?
TG: “That was good for me. Some guys can adapt – you see freshmen get thrown into the fire right away nowadays. I felt like I needed that year to go against Anthony Roberson and all those guys just to get my feet wet. At the same time, I knew that I was going to be getting better going against Peep every day in practice. They led the way, and we just tried to contribute in whatever way we could.”

AS: You won the SEC Tournament that season and were a No. 4-seed going into the NCAA Tournament. What was it like playing at such a big stage so early in your career?
TG: “It was fun! When I was at Florida, the main thing was we just lived in the moment. We took it game-by-game. We wanted to do stuff that no other team really had done at Florida. We knew that we had David, Matt and Anthony, and we just wanted to contribute in any way we could. The main thing was just going out and playing hard, doing whatever it took to win.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Taurean Green…after the break!
Continue Reading » Taurean Green: “We knew nobody could beat us.”

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Lineup choices may decide Florida-BYU game

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Columnist

In October 2005, the Villanova Wildcats received depressing news. Forward Curtis Sumpter, who had torn his ACL that April, had reinjured himself and would likely miss the entire upcoming season. At the time, head coach Jay Wright made the unconventional decision not to replace Sumpter with a forward; instead he decided to use a four-guard lineup as his team’s base set rather than just a change of pace.

Villanova began the year ranked No. 4, lost only three regular season games and advanced to the Elite Eight, losing to the eventual champion Florida Gators.

In a bit of a parallel, BYU Cougars head coach Dave Rose has also chosen to take a somewhat unconventional route to replace suspended sophomore F Brandon Davies. Blessed with a senior backcourt of all-time BYU steals leader Jackson Emery and All-American Jimmer Fredette, Rose has chosen to the duo play all 40 minutes while going with four guards and 6’8” F Noah Hartsock to round out the starting five.

The players who have seen their minutes increase the most in Davies’ absence have been the guards and wing players rather than the two taller players on the roster: 6’8” Stephen Rogers and 6’10” James Anderson. It’s interesting to compare the Cougars’ rotation and bench compared with their Sweet 16 opponent Gators, especially when you look at how the minutes have been distributed over the last seven games:

FLORIDA (minutes per game)
5’8” G Erving Walker (32.5) – 6’2” G Scottie Wilbekin (17.1)
6’2” G Kenny Boynton (32.5) – 6’6” G/F Casey Prather (6.7)
6’9” F Chandler Parsons (33.7) – 6’7” F Will Yeguete (7.1)
6’8” F Alex Tyus (24.4) – 6’9” F Erik Murphy (11.1)
6’10” C Vernon Macklin (24.3) – 6’9” F/C Patric Young (17.9)

BYU (minutes per game – season)
6’3” G Jackson Emery (32.5) – 6’0” G Nick Martineau (4.8)
6’2” G Jimmer Fredette (35.5) – 6’6” G/F Brock Zylstra (4.8)
6’6” G Kyle Collinsworth (25.4) – 6’6” F Logan Magnusson (11.4)
6’5” G/F Charles Abouo (20.7) – 6’8” F Stephen Rogers (10.0)
6’8” F Noah Hartsock (29.4) – 6’10” F/C James Anderson (7.8)

BYU (minutes per game – since suspension)
Fredette (38.7, + 3.2) – Emery (35.4, +2.9)
Hartsock (30.9, +1.4) – Collinsworth (30.1, +4.7)
Abouo (27.7, +7.0) – Magnusson (15.7, +4.3)
Rogers (8.3, -3.1) – Anderson (8.7, -0.9)
Zylstra (3.7, -1.1) -Martineau (1.5, -3.3)

The Sweet 16 match-up between the Cougars and Gators may come down to which team blinks first. Florida has three players that normally play double-figure minutes off the bench. Since Davies’ departure, BYU has only one that does so: Magnusson.

If the young men from Provo are able to maintain the top-10 national offensive efficiency and top-20 tempo going with the 6’5” Abouo and 6’6” Collinsworth, they may force UF head coach Billy Donovan to go with a smaller lineup. Conversely, if the comparatively huge front line of Florida (starters and reserves) are able to punish BYU’s smaller lineup, Rose may be have to play Rogers and Anderson more than he’d like.

The other question that immediately comes to mind is whether Emery and Fredette can continue to play effectively without being substituted. Considering their conditioning playing in high altitude, there should not be any doubt they can do so physically. No, the question is whether the 5’8” Walker and 6’2” Boynton can manage to cause any foul trouble for the BYU backcourt at all.

Fredette is notoriously uninterested in playing defense (managing, for example, to escape without being called for a single foul vs. Gonzaga), but Emery’s reputation as a defensive standout will at least be tested by the often unpredictable decisions of Walker in the lane and on the break.

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FOUR BITS: Black, Horford, Brewer, SEC b-ball

1 » Florida Gators safety Ahmad Black wishes Brian Billick was still a head coach in the NFL. Why? Because Billick, unlike some other scouts and coaches, understands exactly what Black can bring to the table at the next level. Writing a column for WNST AM1570, Billick had this to say about him:

Many NFL scouts and talent evaluator will tell you that Ahmad Black is undersized and doesn’t have elite speed or quickness. […] But what I will tell you, is that despite his lack of size and speed, Black always seems to be around the football. On the field, he plays faster than his 40-time suggests by playing smart and instinctive. You will rarely find him out of position in zone schemes and he reads WRs well in man coverage. […] He displays a smooth and fluid backpedal with an efficient transition into his break on the ball. He is a reliable tackler, but gets in trouble when he leaves his feet in an effort to make a lunging hit. While Ahmad Black may not be physically intimidating, he shows up on the field and makes big plays against the best of competition. […] Black may not be the most gifted athlete, but he is an exceptional football player.

2 » Two former Gators will be squaring off on the hardwood for the third time already in March as the Chicago Bulls travel south to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Atlanta forward/center Al Horford relishes the occasions he gets to take on former teammate and now Chicago center Joakim Noah, something Horford told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “It’s going to be a battle, but we’re looking forward to it,” he said. The paper also spoke to Hawks forward Marvin Williams, who said the team can tell that Horford is extra enthusiastic when he gets to face Noah.

3 » Former Florida F Corey Brewer made headlines after the NBA trade deadline came to a close. After being sent from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the New York Knicks, he was waived by the latter team and was quickly snatched up by the Dallas Mavericks as a defensive specialist who is athletic and can play significant minutes. However, as ESPN Dallas’ Jeff Caplan points out, Brewer has had some difficulties in his short tenure with the Mavericks. Caplan reports that Brewer has acquired 19 fouls in 62 minutes of game action (one per 3.26 minutes), much higher than his 2.5 fouls-per-game average with the Timberwolves. The likely reason? He is pressing as he tries to fit in to a new situation and do whatever he can to succeed.

“I felt good about [signing with Dallas], but at the same time I knew it was going to be tough,” Brewer told ESPN. “These guys were playing really good basketball before I got here, one of the best records in the league. I knew coach was comfortable with the guys he already has so I’m just trying to earn some minutes any way I can right now. […] I’m not discouraged. This is a different situation. These guys have been here. They’ve been playing well. I’m just trying to find my way and just trying to get in line, whatever I can do to help right now. I’m not trying to push the issue of ‘I want to play, I need to play.'”

4 » With the Sweet 16 of the 2011 NCAA Tournament finalized over the weekend, there has been plenty of talk about the Big East being overrated while the ACC has been somewhat disrespected – simply because of the number of teams who have advanced to this stage. Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive heard the rumblings and wanted to make sure his league was not overlooked either. Speaking with USA Today, Slive propped up the SEC’s accomplishments in the NCAAs. “For 22 straight years, we have had at least one of our teams make it to the Sweet 16,” noted Slive, “and for the sixth time in the last 10 years, we have had multiple teams in the Sweet 16. With two teams in the Sweet 16 again this year, the SEC’s success in basketball does not take a back seat to anyone.”

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, Fredette, Larson

1 » With Kyle Orton as a veteran “starter,” and Tim Tebow as a second-year up-and-comer and Brady Quinn as an emergency safety valve, the Denver Broncos will not be drafting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft…or will they? Denver has been taking a very close look at a number of athletic rookie QBs including Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick…even though they already have one in Tebow on their roster. Asked why they are paying so much attention to the position, Broncos president John Elway said the following to the Denver Post: “We’re always looking for that guy. We may already have the guy who can pull the trigger and win us a championship someday. We may have him. We don’t know. We believe in Tim, but he’s not there yet.” Elway and Denver are also taking a look at defensive tackle, a position they will likely end up drafting – or so Tebow should hope.

2 » Speaking with Chris Dortch for an article posted on NBA.com, Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons praised the game of former Boston Celtics star F Larry Bird, someone who the writer brought up in conversation because of the way he impacted games as a facilitator. “Oh, I’m a big Larry Bird fan,” Parsons said of the player’s NBA spread. “I always thought Larry Bird played basketball the way it ought to be played.” Dortch put Parsons up against his “Bill Russell Test” to determine if he has the chance to be successful playing at the next level. He also spoke with NBA director of scouting Ryan Blake about Parsons. “One of his advantage is that he has a number of skills he does well,” Blake said. “He shoots the ball. He’s got size. He passes very well. He’s a rebounder. And he’s a hard worker and has a professional approach.”

3 » Though BYU Cougars guard Jimmer Fredette had his way with Florida in 2010 – especially in the two overtime periods – he is well-aware that the Gators are a much improved team this time around. “They’re just better because they’re more experienced and have played together for two years,” he told the Associated Press. “They won two games in the NCAA Tournament together as a team and they’re used to winning.” He also discussed how Florida might guard him. “I think they’re just going to be really tenacious…run at my ball screens hard, maybe double them and try to get the bal out of my hands,” Fredette said.

4 » Freshman F Cody Larson will be redshirting this season and has spent every game from the bench watching his teammates achieve great success. Donovan praised Larson’s contributions during a media availability at the beginning of March, but assistant Larry Shyatt expanded on those comments to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “He’s been terrific,” Shyatt said. “He’s helped our frontline get better this year. Great work ethic, improved offensively, inside and out. We’re excited he’s going to be eligible next season.” Though Larson himself says sitting is “tough,” he understands the reasoning. “I’m looking at it like I’m not going to play if I don’t get better,” he said. “I just need to keep improving.”

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