Fastbreak: Short-handed No. 8 Florida survives scare from ULM, wins 61-56 in overtime

No. 8 Florida Gators basketball (2-1) was forced to deal with a second-straight scare at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida, after blowing yet another halftime lead. The difference this time is that Florida was able to pull out a victory on Friday evening, edging the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (2-1) in overtime.

The Gators took down the Warhawks 61-56 despite UF being severely shorthanded with arguably the team’s two best players sitting out the entire contest.

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

It was over when (overtime edition): Tied 54-54, redshirt senior walk-on forward Jacob Kurtz found redshirt senior center Jon Horford open in the low post after a screen down for an easy two-handed dunk. On the ensuing possession, junior guard Michael Frazier II played tremendous one-on-one defense to force a poor shot and put sophomore point guard Kasey Hill on the line with 27.7 seconds remaining. Hill made both of his shots from the charity stripe to give the Gators a four-point lead, and following a layup and missed And1 attempt on the other end, drained another to push Florida’s advantage to five with 16.5 seconds left to play. Kurtz deflected Hill’s second free throw – a miss – off a ULM player to get UF another possession. Freshman PG Chris Chiozza responded by going to the line and making 1-of-2 free throws to ice the game.

Significant stretch: Down by 12 late in the first half, Florida took off on a 10-0 run to end the opening 20 minutes. The Gators extended that scoring stretch in the second half, using a 15-0 run to outscore the Warhawks 27-6 spanning halftime. UF took a game-high nine-point lead at 44-35 but would eventually give up that advantage.

Second half head-scratcher: For the second-straight game, Florida blew a late lead by allowing ULM to score the last eight points of the second half to tie the contest 51-51 and force overtime. The Warhawks made two free throws and then drained consecutive threes, the second a wide-open look with 21 seconds remaining, to erase the Gators’ hard-earned lead and move the game into an extra period.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Short-handed No. 8 Florida survives scare from ULM, wins 61-56 in overtime

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Gameday: No. 8 Florida Gators vs. UL-Monroe – Donovan trying to turn ‘I’ and ‘me’ into ‘we’


Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Doug Bell, Jon Sundvold)
Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 108/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 8 FLORIDA GATORS ULM WARHAWKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Keith Richard
Record: 1-1 Record: 2-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt

Odds: Florida -21 | O/U 131

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Story: Chris Walker primed for 2014-15 season debut on Friday

MUST-READ PRIMER: Can the Gators keep it going with a rebuilt starting five?

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Florida F/C Chris Walker primed for 2014-15 debut

For the second time in as many seasons, sophomore forward/center Chris Walker is joining the Florida Gators (1-1) late as he is set to make his second-year debut on Friday against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (2-0).

Ahead of his freshman campaign, academic eligibility issues kept Walker out of action until the spring semester, and accusations of impermissible benefits forced him to sit a few more games. By the time Walker took the court for the first time on Feb. 4, 2014, he had not played in an organized basketball game in more than a year and was joining a well-oiled, third-ranked Florida squad that was already 19-2 on the season.

For those reasons, Walker’s impact was minimal. He averaged just 4.8 minutes per game and did not make much of a difference in most contests, though his size, athleticism and versatility certainly showed through at times.

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The Fastbreak: Rodriguez explodes late, sends Miami to 69-67 upset of No. 8 Florida Gators

It all came crashing down for the No. 8 Florida Gators (1-1) on Monday as the Miami Hurricanes (2-0) exploded on a late 18-1 run and ultimately used 20 points scored by a single player in the final 6:47 of the contest to defeat their hosts 69-67 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

With the loss, the Gators ended their program-record 33-game home winning streak, which was the second-longest active streak in the nation and dated back to Nov. 11, 2012. Florida also lost its 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents that dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.

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

It was over when: Florida and Miami were tied at 65 when redshirt junior guard Eli Carter rounded the foul line and drove to the rack, converting a layup to put the Gators ahead 67-65 with 1:03 to play. Hurricanes point guard Angel Rodriguez missed a three on the ensuing possession, but Miami got the ball back, called a timeout and set up for another shot. Rodriguez squared off with Florida sophomore PG Kasey Hill, crossed him over beyond the arc and drained a dagger three to push UM ahead with 18 seconds to play. Carter was called for an offensive charging foul (taken by Rodriguez) on UF’s next possession, Rodriguez made 1-of-2 foul shots after he was sent to the line, and an off-balance three shot by Gators junior G Michael Frazier II clanged off the rim at the buzzer.

Significant stretch: Erasing a double-digit lead Florida held most of the game, Miami erupted on an 18-1 run late in the second half – courtesy of four-straight treys, including three-in-a-row by Rodriguez – and took a three-point lead with 3:25 to play following four-straight made foul shots. A big three-pointer by Gators redshirt senior center Jon Horford ended the long Canes run and tied the game, with a second three by Horford moments later keeping UF in the contest.

Prominent players: Rodriguez made five threes – including the game winner – and scored 20 total points in the final 6:47 of the contest. He finished with a game-high 24 on 7-of-14 shooting, draining 5-of-8 from long range. For Florida, Horford made two late threes that kept the Gators in the contest following the devastating Canes run. He finished 5-of-9 from the field (3-for-6 beyond the arc, 4-for-4 from the charity stripe) for 17 points, adding seven boards to his stat line.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » The Fastbreak: Rodriguez explodes late, sends Miami to 69-67 upset of No. 8 Florida Gators

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Gameday: No. 8 Florida Gators vs. Miami


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

TV: ESPNU (Mark Jones, Stan Heath)
Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 136/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 8 FLORIDA GATORS MIAMI HURRICANES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jim Larranaga
Record: 1-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast

Odds: Florida -8.5 | O/U 130

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Story: Dorian Finney-Smith suffers hairline fractures in hand, cleared to play
Notebook: Dillon Graham decides to transfer

MUST-READ PRIMER: Can the Gators keep it going with a rebuilt starting five?

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Florida G Dillon Graham decides to transfer

Buried on the depth chart and unlikely to get a significant opportunity to play for the Florida Gators this season, redshirt sophomore guard Dillon Graham has decided to transfer from the program at the conclusion of the fall semester.

Graham, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard who saw a total of 92 minutes of action in just 25 games in three seasons, has neither decided on a transfer destination nor what level of basketball he wishes to compete in following his time with the Gators.

“I want to thank my teammates, coaches and everyone else at UF for a great experience during my time here,” Graham said in a statement released by the school. “Even though I am moving on to the next chapter in my life and my basketball career, I will always have positive memories from my years with the Gators.”

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Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith diagnosed with hairline fracture in non-shooting hand

Updated on Sunday at 11 p.m.

No. 7 Florida Gators basketball (1-0) may be without the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year for its Monday showdown with the Miami Hurricanes (1-0) as the program announced Saturday that redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his left, non-shooting hand.

Finney-Smith suffered the injury – initially believed to be a sprain – early in Florida’s 68-45 win over William & Mary on Friday. After heading to the locker room for tests and a wrap, he returned to the court and led the Gators with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds, a steal and an assist.

X-rays were done after the game, but the results were not released until Saturday. On Sunday, head coach Billy Donovan noted that Finney-Smith has “two hairline fractures on two fingers,” though the injury should not affect his ability to play if he feels up to it.

Continue Reading » Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith diagnosed with hairline fracture in non-shooting hand

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Fastbreak: Florida works William & Mary 68-45

No. 7 Florida Gators basketball opened the 2014-15 season on Friday evening, hosting the William & Mary Tribe at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gators took down the Tribe 68-45, winning their 24th consecutive season-opening game and improving to 19-0 in such games under Donovan. UF also extended its home winning streak to 33 games, the longest such streak in program history, which is also tied for the longest active streak in the nation.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Florida held an insurmountable halftime lead but still had its share of struggles in the second period. With five minutes left to play, freshmen point guard Chris Chiozza and forward Devin Robinson hooked up on a pair of plays that pushed the Gators’ lead up to 26. Chiozza first hit Robinson for an alley-oop. On the very next possession, Chiozza took off on a fastbreak, finding Robinson under the basket for a layup that put UF ahead 63-37 with 4:45 to play. Chiozza did it all with four points (2-of-2 shooting) with three assists and two rebounds, while Robinson went 4-for-9 from the field with four boards and a late block.

Prominent player: Redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith sprained his left wrist early in the contest but returned after a short trip to the locker room and wound up as Florida’s top performer on Friday. Finney-Smith scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, hitting all four of his free throws and adding five boards to boot. He netted five-straight as part of a 7-0 UF run in the second half and scored nine of the Gators’ first 13 points in the later period. He left the court late in the second half but most likely as a precaution.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida works William & Mary 68-45

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