Fastbreak: Georgia rocks Florida 73-61 in Athens

By Jordan McPherseon – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators basketball dropped its first Southeastern Conference game of the season on Saturday afternoon, falling 73-61 to the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. Florida (10-7, 3-1 SEC) struggled out of the gate as Georgia took a lead that it never relinquished over the course of the 40 minutes.

“I think the performance says it all. I don’t want to take anything away from Georgia. … In a lot of ways, I was actually surprised it was as close as it was. It felt like they outplayed us in every facet,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game. “It was a disappointing response coming off a quick turnaround.”

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with nine quick-hitters:

It was over when: The Bulldogs extended their lead to 15 points (59-44) on a Kenny Gaines three-pointer with 7:56 left to play. That basket helped UGA regain its largest lead of the contest just minutes after UF cut its large deficit to two points.

Significant stretch: The Gators cut their game-long deficit to two early in the second half but suffered from their own miscues, committing four turnovers that allowed an 10-1 Bulldogs run, pushing Georgia ahead of Florida 56-41 with 11 minutes left. UF turned it over seven times during an extended stretch as UGA went 6-for-7 from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.

“For me, this game is a microcosm of our team. This would be a great example of what I watch in practice. This is what I watch,” Donovan said.

“The hardest thing for young players, in my opinion, is to be consistent day in and day out, day in and day out. A lot of that comes with maturity. We’ve showed moments this year with great, brilliant flashes … we’ve shown great signs. But here’s an example of inconsistency. We’re just very, very inconsistent. It is, for a lot of these guys, very mentally overwhelming and draining to come every day and be able to have the focus and attention to detail and be consistent. I’m concerned every game. There’s not a game I go into and sit there and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be fine.’”

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs; Donovan still wanting more from Frazier, Hill

Location: Stegeman Coliseum – Augusta, Georgia [Capacity: 10,523]
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS (Andre Catalon, Clark Kellogg)
Streaming Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 10-6 (3-0 SEC) Record: 10-5 (1-2 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: -2

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series over Georgia 109-99 with a 26-10 record against its rival under Donovan’s leadership. UF is 10-7 under Donovan when playing UGA in Athens.
» The Gators were 86-10 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 71 points in a game; UF is 9-5 this season when doing so.
» Florida has put forward 10 different starting lineups in 16 regular-season games. Overall, 10 players have started at least one game for UF this season.
» The Gators learned to win close games last season, going 15-2 in contests decided by single digits; Florida is 3-5 in such affairs this season.
» UF is on pace for 19.4 wins in the regular season while looking for its 17th consecutive season with 20+ victories. Florida’s 16-straight campaigns with that many wins is the longest streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally. Only eight coaches have ever won 20+ games in 14+ consecutive seasons.
» Earlier this season, Miami snapped Florida’s program-record 33-game home winning streak, which dated back to Nov. 11, 2012, and was the second-longest in the nation. The Canes also broke the Gators’ school-record 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, which dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.
» Florida is on three program-record regular-season winning streaks – 21-straight games against SEC opponents overall (since Jan. 8, 2014) and 20-straight SEC games at home (since Jan. 9, 2013). UF has also won a school-record 10-in-a-row over SEC opponents on the road (since Jan. 11, 2014).

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Fastbreak: Florida takes down Auburn 75-55

Updated on Friday at 1:30 p.m.

Florida Gators basketball (10-6, 3-0 SEC) continued its upward momentum by winning its third-straight in Southeastern Conference play with a 75-55 victory over the Auburn Tigers (9-7, 1-2 SEC) on Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The win was Florida’s 21th consecutive regular-season victory in SEC play and 19th-straight home win against a league opponent dating back to Jan. 9, 2013.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Thursday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: After seeing its lead cut in half from 20 to 10 due to a 10-0 Auburn run (see below), Florida scored six points on three-straight possessions in just 1:13 to increase its advantage to 16 points and hold on for the victory.

Significant stretches: The Gators opened the second half with a 10-3 scoring stretch, extending their advantage and taking a game-high 24-point lead on the Tigers. Spanning the half, Auburn went 9:53 without netting a field goal, allowing Florida to build on its 17-point halftime lead. AU would not be denied, however, turning three-straight UF turnovers into three-pointers with a 10-0 run that cut its deficit to 10 with five minutes to play.

“I think our team is getting better. We’re not there. There’s an immaturity, a lack of understanding,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “We’re up 19 points, we have three empty possessions and they make three-straight threes. All of a sudden the lead goes from 19 to 10 and they’re looking around like, ‘What happened?!’ They have no concept how quickly it can change.”

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Auburn Tigers

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2 (Joe Tessitore, Sean Farnham)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bruce Pearl
Record: 9-6 (2-0 SEC) Record: 9-6 (1-1 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: -15 | O/U 128

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FOUR BITS: Harris, NFL, Horford, Tobias

1 » The second-degree misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle without a license has been dropped against Florida Gators freshman quarterback Treon Harris after the player acquired his driver’s license. “He got his license and they dismissed the case [Wednesday],” Harris’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, told The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu. “He took the test and got it re-upped. He did what I expected him to do.” The incident drew extra scrutiny as the police report noted the officer on the scene found marijuana in the vehicle but did not charge any of the three people in the car with possession because it was not on their bodies and the vehicle was not registered to any of them. Freshmen defensive backs Jalen Tabor and J.C. Jackson were in the car with Harris at the time. New Gators head coach Jim McElwain said last month that he is looking “forward to getting into [Harris’s] life and being a big part of his life.”

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Finney-Smith emerging at right time for Florida

The reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year, redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been a model of consistency for the Florida Gators over the last month.

Consider this: Finney-Smith is averaging team-highs of 16.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game since Dec. 8, all while hitting 56.0 percent of his field goals and 43.2 percent of his threes during that eight-game stretch.

Through the first half of Florida’s season, Finney-Smith is more accurate than sharp-shooting junior guard Michael Frazier II and simply more effective than anyone else on the Gators’ roster despite the fact that he missed two games and was severely limited in five others after suffering two hairline fractures in his non-shooting hand. He said after Saturday’s game that he feels close to 100 percent healthy.

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Donovan looking for more from Walker and Hill

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s busy week ahead, which includes two games in a three-day span. He also broke down recent Gators suspensions and some struggles being faced by his pair of five-star, second-year standouts.

BETTER BUT NOT QUITE THERE YET

There is no question that sophomore center Chris Walker has played better in his second season at Florida, though to this point his contributions continue to be more style than substance – a fact not lost on his coach.

Through his first 13 games, Walker is averaging just 5.8 points and 4.1 boards, struggling mightily at times. Outside of a three-game stretch in December when he combined to score 37 points on 17-for-28 shooting (.607) with seven blocks, Walker has scored 39 points while hitting just 43-of-163 shots (.264) with 11 blocks in his other 10 games.

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Billy Donovan returns as coach for USA Basketball in FIBA U19 World Championship

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has been retained to continue leading USA Basketball during the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship set to take place from June 27-July 5 in Crete, Greece.

Donovan, a court coach during the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team Training Camp, will return for his third stint as head coach while looking for his fourth international gold medal. He led American teams that that won gold in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship and 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.

Donovan is the first repeat U19 head coach in USA Basketball history.

He is 19-0 with three gold medals, going 5-0 in both FIBA Americas U18 Championships that he coached and 9-0 in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship two summers ago in Prague, Czech Republic. His three United States national teams combined have won their 19 games by an average of 43.7 points.

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