TWO BITS: Scottie Wilbekin, Percy Harvin, Franco

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin, a rookie in Australia’s National Basketball League, continues to lead the Cairns Taipans towards the organization’s first title. With the best record in team history, the Taipans (21-7) defeated the Perth Wildcats 71-64 on Friday in the NBL Semifinals. Wilbekin, Cairns’ Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, registered game-highs of 23 points and 10 rebounds while going 7-for-11 from the field, 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and 6-for-6 at the charity stripe. He also posted four assists and two turnovers in 36:38. Taipans coach Aaron Fearne believes Wilbekin should be under strong consideration for league MVP honors, especially if he leads Cairns all the way to a title. “He’s extremely valuable to us and has been a big focus for opposition teams. For a 21-year-old to come out and have the impact he’s had, he should be a frontrunner (for MVP honors) in my opinion,” Fearne told The Cairns Post on Thursday.

A source close to Wilbekin told OnlyGators.com that the former Gators star will enter the NBA D-League immediately upon returning to the United States. He will join the league’s free agent pool therefore be available to get signed by any team.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Scottie Wilbekin, Percy Harvin, Franco

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Florida Gators postpone $60 million renovation to Stephen C. O’Connell Center for one year

The Florida Gators announced Wednesday that a planned $60 million renovation to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center has been postponed one year.

Citing an “aggressive schedule, escalating costs associated with the rehabilitation project and a change in the construction management team,” the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association will no longer push the project forward at the conclusion of the 2014-15 basketball season.

“The renovation proposal is a major renewal of one of our campus’s most iconic buildings,” said new school president Kent Fuchs in a release. “It’s incumbent on us to take the time and do it right.”

According to Florida, the new construction management team’s design plan is “about 60 percent complete.”

Continue Reading » Florida Gators postpone $60 million renovation to Stephen C. O’Connell Center for one year

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Florida Gators extend apparel contract with Nike

A Nike program since 1999, the Florida Gators recently signed a seven-year extension with the industry leader, pushing their contract through April 1, 2024.

According to the Portland Business Journal, which obtained a copy of Florida’s contract the week of Jan. 15, the Gators will receive “$3.1 million in Nike product this academic year, one of the highest product allowances in the country and up from the $2.1 million it was previously due.” That total will increase by $100,000 every two years, concluding with a $3.5 million allowance for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons.

In other words, UF will receive a combined total of $2.1 million more in equipment and apparel over the next two seasons than was originally agreed upon when it last signed a contract with Nike in 2013, along with a total over the subsequent five seasons that will provide it with one of the highest allowances in the country.

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Fastbreak: SEC-worst Missouri embarrasses Florida 64-52 in Columbia

If the Florida Gators on the roster Tuesday had any respect for head coach Billy Donovan, they certainly did not show it. Florida (13-15, 6-9 SEC) was embarrassed once again this season as the worst team in the Southeastern Conference, losers of 13-straight games, upended the Gators 64-52.

The Missouri Tigers (8-20, 2-13 SEC) dominated the visitors over the latter 20 minutes of Tuesday’s contest, outscoring Florida 37-21 in the second half while ending the game on a 24-5 run at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri.

Donovan had no choice but to sit back and watch as his team struggled on both ends of the court, combining poor shooting in every facet of the game with lacking effort on defense and terrible decision making throughout the contest.

“We really made a lot of, really a lot of poor choices, things that — to be quite honest — left me scratching my head,” Donovan said. “We had Kasey Hill reaching across the out of bounds line for a technical foul, an Eli Carter foul before the ball ever came in bounds while the game was obviously in reach, a Devin Robinson foul. Our fouling enabled them to get to the free throw line. With 13 minutes to go we’re in the bonus and we never really could take advantage of it. For us, we got to the free throw line 23 times, which is drastically more than we normally go, but certainly hard to win when you go 9-for-23. Even when we did get there, we weren’t able to capitalize. We just didn’t make enough smart basketball plays in the game.”

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

It was over when: Missouri guard Namon Wright bombed in a three-pointer with 4:16 remaining, pushing the hosts ahead by six and putting Florida in a deficit that it was unable to overcome. Wright, who averaged 5.4 points on 32 percent shooting entering Tuesday’s game, scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting, hitting 6-of-8 treys. The Tigers only increased their lead from there. “We didn’t really have anybody [who could cover him],” Donovan said. “Give him credit. He really got it going, shot the ball very well. Tonight, he was a hard match-up for us. We really didn’t have anybody who could stop him.”

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FOUR BITS: Haslem, Culpepper, Beal, Parsons

1 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has only shot 13 three pointers over 751 career NBA games before last Friday, so why has he attempted three since? According to the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson, his coach told him he needs to start doing so if the 34-year-old plans to play major minutes in place of Chris Bosh. “If I want to play [power forward], I have to shoot the corner three. It’s part of our offense,” he told Jackson. “If I’m going to play the four, I have to implement that. you’re not going to make all of them, but you have to take them with confidence. I’m going to make some.” Haslem started his career 0-for-16 from three (0-for-3 with the Florida Gators), draining his first trey on Friday. He is 0-for-2 since for a combined 6.3 percent lifetime from beyond the arc.

2 » According to David Morrison of the Columbia Daily Tribune, who painstakingly did the research, no Southeastern Conference coaching staff has seen more turnover in the last 15 years than Florida. The Gators have had 65 coaches rotate in and out of the program in that time, nine more than the next-highest program (Ole Miss, 56) and nearly 20 more than the average among the other 13 SEC schools (45.4). That average is weighed down heavily by Missouri (17) and Georgia (30), though UF’s high number is still indicative of its hiring issues, especially most recently under Will Muschamp.

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Gameday: Florida Gators at Missouri Tigers – Billy Donovan goes for win No. 500 with lacking team

Location: Mizzou Arena – Columbia, Missouri [Capacity: 15,061]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Matt Stewart, Darrin Horn)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app

SiriusXM: 119/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS MISSOURI TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kim Anderson
Record: 13-14 (6-8 SEC) Record: 7-20 (1-13 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -7

APPROACHING 500

Likely the last game Florida will be favored in this season, the Gators have a chance to get back in the winning column while providing Donovan with his all-important 500th victory on Tuesday night. Donovan, 49, who will be coaching in his 703rd game, has an opportunity to become the second-youngest coach to 500 wins, only behind the legendary Bobby Knight.

Asked on Monday to look back on his career and achievements – including two national championships and four appearances in the Final Four – Donovan deflected the praise (as usual) and gave a lot of credit to those that have been with him along the way.

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Fastbreak: LSU dismantles Florida, again, 70-63

The Florida Gators were embarrassed by the LSU Tigers on Jan. 20 when LSU ended Florida’s 20-game home winning streak against Southeastern Conference opponents that dated back two years. If Florida was looking for revenge Saturday, it didn’t show that to be the case as the Tigers ran past the Gators 70-63 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

LSU (19-8, 8-6 SEC) swept Florida (13-14, 6-8 SEC) over two regular-season games for the first time since 1991, the last occasion the two SEC rivals squared off in a home-and-home series. The Gators also lost consecutive games to the Tigers for the first time since 2008-09.

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

It was over when: Florida cut its deficit to six with less than seven minutes to play, but LSU immediately responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a three from Jalyn Patterson, to take a 63-47 lead that was simply insurmountable for the Gators.

Significant stretch: The Tigers built on their first half-ending 9-0 run, extending it to a 17-2 stretch to regain their massive lead and eventually jump ahead by a game-high 16 points early in the second half.

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: LSU dismantles Florida, again, 70-63

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Gameday: Florida Gators at LSU Tigers

Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center – Baton Rouge, Louisiana [Capacity: 13,215]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

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

SiriusXM: 119/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Johnny Jones
Record: 13-13 (6-7 SEC) Record: 18-8 (7-6 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida +4

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