Knights upset No. 16 Gators 57-54 in Orlando

Entering the first-ever Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL, the No. 16/18 Florida Gators were hoping to build momentum after pulling out an impressive defensive victory against Florida State on Sunday. Instead Florida (5-2) played their worst game in recent memory and fell 57-54 to the up-and-coming Central Florida Knights (6-0).

Led by former Gators assistant Donnie Jones, the Knights had UF and head coach Billy Donovan their heels the entire game. Though the contest was never out of reach for Florida, they failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities – specifically three in the last 30 seconds including a costly turnover by Central Florida.

UCF jumped out to a 28-20 lead in the first half and finished the period up four as guard Marcus Jordan – son of NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan – posted nine points to lead his team. UF senior forward Chandler Parsons got off to a rocky start (that would continue the entire game) going only 1-for-5 from the field and 0-for-4 from the free throw line in the first half.

The Gators got back in the swing of things at the start of the second half, tying the score at 34 on a layup from redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and quick jump shot by junior point guard Erving Walker. A 9-2 run exhibited by the Knights took them back up to their game-high eight-point advantage (44-36), but Florida answered with a 10-0 run to re-take the lead 46-44 just minutes later.

UCF went 0-for-13 from the floor during UF’s run, but while the Gators did erase their deficit, they failed to capitalize on the momentum. The game would go back-and-forth from there with Macklin tightening UCF’s lead to 53-52 with under a minute to go.

Florida got its first big opportunity on an inbounds play from Central Florida with 55.4 seconds left. Sophomore G Kenny Boynton stole the ball on a bad pass and Donovan called a timeout to draw up a play with 44.1 seconds remaining. Boynton got the ball out of the break and missed an open jumper, giving it back to the Knights who wound up with Jordan on the line shooting the one-and-one.

The Gators were still faced with a one possession game after Jordan made both free throws, but Walker and Boynton each missed wide open treys and UCF grabbed the second rebound. Two more free throws and a quick layup by Boynton passed before UF put F Keith Clanton on the line for another one-and-one.

Clanton missed his first free throw, but Macklin knocked an easily corralled rebound out of bounds with what would have been four seconds remaining for Florida.

Jordan matched his first half performance for Central Florida, scoring nine more points and finishing the game with 18 on 6-of-11 shooting. Clanton was just as effective for the Knights, going 4-of-8 for 12 points with nine rebounds.

Macklin was truly the only bright spot for the Gators, shooting an impressive 10-for-11 from the field for a game-high 20 points to go along with a team-high eight boards. Walker scored 16 points of 4-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 from downtown), but he also turned the ball over thrice and only dished it twice. Boynton went 4-of-10 for 10 points but was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and missed some clutch shots.

Parsons and fellow senior F Alex Tyus were dreadful for Florida throughout the night. Parsons finished 1-of-9 from the field, 0-for-3 from downtown and 0-for-6 from the line (including an air ball) in front of his hometown crowd. He did, however, grab six boards and hand out five assists. Tyus finished 0-of-5 from the field and was held scoreless only taking down five rebounds in 21 minutes.

Though the Gators shot better than the Knights from the field (42.0-38.2 percent), the team – without Macklin – only made a 28.9 percent of its shots. Florida also out-rebounded Central Florida 37-30, handed out more assists (12-10) and committed less fouls (13-16). However, UF turned the ball over twice as much as UCF (14-7) and was unable to capitalize on the few miscues they did force.

Florida will look to right the ship on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. against American in Washington, D.C. The game will air live on Sun Sports.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

No. 16 Florida Gators vs. Central Florida Knights

Event: Florida Citrus Sports Shootout
Location: Amway Center – Orlando, FL [Capacity: 20,000]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: FSN
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 16 FLORIDA GATORS CENTRAL FLORIDA KNIGHTS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Donnie Jones
Record: 5-1 Record: 5-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Conference USA
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is undefeated in the all-time series against Central Florida 9-0, though the two teams have never squared off in Orlando.
» The Gators are 8-1 against Conference USA opponents under Donovan.
» Donovan is also 5-1 against his former assistants.
» Florida is 77-20 under Donovan in the month of December.
» UF will play UCF in the first collegiate event at the brand new Amway Center; ironically, they also faced Stanford in the first collegiate event at the old Amway Arena.
» Donovan needs just five victories to move into sole possession of third place in SEC history for most wins as an SEC head coach.
» The Gators have out-rebounded five of six opponents thus far and are doing so by +8.2 rebounds per game.
» The Knights are No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage (55.4), No. 9 in assists per game (18.8) and No. 10 in points per game (85.8).

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker…a backcourt duo that has combined to average 27.6 point per game and has accounted for 25 of their team’s 37 three-pointers this season.
» Sophomore forward Erik Murphy…who is really coming on this season after only seeing the court sparingly as a freshman. Murphy has posted double-digit points three times and played important minutes in Florida’s win over Florida State.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior Fs Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus…UF’s three frontcourt starters who are average 16.2 rebounds per game.
» Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin…who has posted a commendable 15-2 assist-to-turnover ratio while running the point in relief of Walker.
» Freshman F Will Yeguete…who has been a spark off the bench for the Gators averaging 5.6 rebounds per game and 3.4 points per game in just 12.6 minutes.
» UCF G Marcus Jordan…who is the son of Michael Jordan and is averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game.
» Knights F Keith Clanton…who averages 16.2 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 68.4 percent from the field.

INJURIES

» Active: Redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin (knee)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior F Adam Allen (knee)

11/30: Donovan discusses coaching, expectations

No. 16/18 Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post.

COACHING, COMMON BOND UNITE DONOVAN AND FORMER ASSISTANTS

Though Donovan’s talented former assistants have been successful at Florida and been able to head coaching jobs, more than winning back-to-back National Championships unites him with Central Florida’s Donnie Jones, Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Arkansas’ John Pelphrey.

“Not to get too personal or morbid, but I lost a daughter. Anthony Grant lost a son. John Pelphrey lost a son. They’re all buried out on 43rd [Street] together. All their graves are right there together,” Donovan explained Tuesday. “So there are things that have happened over a 13-14-15-year period for the four of us that, no question, we will be ever interwoven in terms of relationships, things that have happened.”

Even with such a history with his assistants – and friends – Donovan does not see any issue competing with them on the court. “That’s the way it is. We’re all competitive, but there’s a fairness inside of competing,” he said. “Our kids are going to go out there and compete. [Jones is] going to prepare his team; I’m going to prepare my team. It’s not like he and I are half court beating each other up.”

EXPECTATIONS DON’T BOTHER DONOVAN, SHOULDN’T DISTRACT MEYER

Asked how it feels that successful men like himself and head football coach Urban Meyer can fall under such heavy criticsm even though they recently won national titles, Donovan explained that it is a part of the business they have chosen.

“We’re in a society that is kind of a microwave. Everybody wants instant, fast results. I don’t think anything worth building or worth lasting is built like that,” he said. “The one person, to me, that puts it all in perspective is Jeremy Foley. He understands that he’s trying to build a foundation. Whether you talk about IBM or some blue-chip stock company, no one ever stays on the top forever. There are peaks and valleys in our own personal lives. Everything just doesn’t go well all the time. That’s the thing that you realize. It happens. No one’s invincible. No one stays on top forever. The days of John Wooden winning 10-straight championships – that’s not happening anymore. There’s too many early departures, guys don’t stay around long enough.”

Donovan also empathizes with where fans and critics come from when they complain (and are perhaps even ungrateful) about team – and coach – performance. “It’s the passion for the University of Florida. People want to see everything at a very, very high level, and that’s understandable,” he said.

NO WAY YOU’RE GOING TO CALL HIM A “LIAR”

While discussing his decision to toss aside his NBA dream to remain at UF, Donovan was jubilant and jovial in explaining that there is no place he would rather be right now.

“One of the hardest parts in coaching is sometimes you don’t know where you’re going to be or what’s going to happen. I’m happy where I’m at, and if I was fortunate enough to stay here for another 15 years, I would really, really be happy with that,” he said. “I’m in a unique situation that the guy that hired me is still there and it’s still a great relationship.

“Sometimes when a coach comes out and says, ‘I’m never leaving,’ and they leave… ‘Liar!’ ‘Well I’m not sure, I’m going to keep my options open.’ ‘He’s not committed there! He’s thinking about…’ All I can say is I’m really happy here, happy with our team, happy with the administration, the people I work with. I am. I’m excited. And do say that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life here at Florida? Things change. God forbid something happens with Jeremy Foley or there’s a new president or there’s a change in administration or they don’t like the way we play. Things can all change in a very quick period of time in this kind of business.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/30: Donovan discusses coaching, expectations

FOUR BITS: Haden shining, Leak wins Grey Cup

1 » Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden has really turned it on in recent weeks, nabbing an interception in each of his last three games. Haden, who is technically a back-up but started his first game on Sunday in place of the injured Eric Wright (knee), is set to start once again this week. “Joe has done really well,” head coach Eric Mangini said of Haden. “He’s getting better as we go. He’s making a strong, strong case for continued playing time.”

2 » The Montreal Alouettes of the CFL won the 2010 Grey Cup on Sunday and two members of the team have ties to Florida. Former Gators National Championship-winning quarterback Chris Leak, the team’s back-up, and head coach Marc Trestman, who worked with former Florida QB Tim Tebow on his throwing motion and mechanics prior to and after NFL combine workouts, both picked up their second Grey Cup rings. The duo also participated in the 2008 Grey Cup but failed to be victorious.

Extra BIT » Former Florida running back DeShawn Wynn, a member of the San Francisco 49ers practice squad this season, was promoted to the active roster on Tuesday as a replacement for Pro Bowler Frank Gore, who fractured his hip during the team’s Monday Night Football game yesterday. Wynn is a four-year NFL veteran who saw his most action with the Green Bay Packers (203 yards and four touchdowns) in his rookie season (2007).

Photo Credit: Todd Korol/Reuters

Murphy, Wise, volleyball honored with SEC awards

Finishing the season with a perfect 20-0 record in the Southeastern Conference and a No. 1 seed in the 2010 NCAA Championship Tournament, No. 1/1 Florida Gators volleyball (27-1) was honored by the SEC on Monday with a number of awards.

Florida junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was named the 2010 SEC Player of the Year, head coach Mary Wise was named 2010 SEC Coach of the Year and six Gators earned All-SEC recognition including three to the First Team.

Joining Murphy on the First Team were seniors middle back Lauren Bledsoe and outside hitter Callie Rivers. Junior MB Cassandra Anderson and junior OH Kristy Jackel were named to the Second Team, while freshman setter Chanel Brown earned All-SEC Freshman Team recognition.

Florida will host the first two rounds of the 2010 NCAA Championship at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Opening round action for the Gators begins on Friday when they face South Carolina State at 7:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Southeastern Conference

FOUR BITS: Demps, locker room, Sanders, bowl

1 » Though Florida Gators junior running back Jeff Demps has missed most of the regular season after injuring his foot against Tennessee, the school’s track and field coach believes he will be ready for the upcoming season. “In talking to Jeff, everything is status-quo,” head coach Mike Holloway told GatorZone‘s Scott Carter. “The biggest thing with Jeff is: Jeff has another football game to play. When that football game is over, we’ll evaluate where he is going with track. Honestly, they are going through a tough time right now. My main concern is keeping his spirits up so he can keep helping the football team.” Demps won the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championship in the men’s 60-meter dash and the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championship in the men’s 100-meter dash last season and is expected to be healthy for the team’s Jan. 15, 2011 debut.

2 » Contrary to reports that the Florida football team had damaged and trashed its locker room after the butt-whipping it was handed by the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, FSU’s equipment staff has denied the story. According to The Florida Times-Union’s Michael DiRocco, the Gators’ equipment staff spoke with their Seminoles counterparts and was assured that the locker room was fine and rumor was false. The Orlando Sentinel also spoke with Florida State, which said the rumors have been “completely blown out of proportion” by those online. “To make it clear [Florida] did not trash the locker room in any way,” school spokesman Rob Wilson told the paper.

3 » Florida redshirt senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders said via his Twitter account that he had surgery on Monday to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. Though Sanders did not miss any time with the injury, the surgery will likely keep him out for the bowl game but get him healthy enough for NFL workouts early next year.

4 » With bowl games set to be announced shortly, all indications are that the Gators will be accepting a bid for the 2010 Gator Bowl, held on New Year’s Day in Jacksonville, FL. Should Florida be offered and decide to participate in the game, they will face a Big Ten opponent which would likely be either Penn State, Iowa or Michigan.

Photo Credit: Jim Burgess

DE Jeoffrey Pagan decommitts from Gators

The third commitment for the Florida Gators’ 2011 recruiting class, four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC) decommitted from the program on Sunday, according to an interview he conducted with Rivals.

Pagan, who committed in April before being iffy with his decision in May and ultimately reaffirming his choice in July, told Rivals that he pulled back his commitment on Sunday because he was “missing out on some stuff and wanted to get back into everything.”

He also admitted that Florida losing assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney to North Texas “play[ed] a factor” in his decision. McCarney personally recruited Pagan, who is Rivals’ No. 36 overall player and No. 3 DE for 2011.

ESPNU ranks him No. 19 overall and believes he is the fourth-best DE in the 2011 class.

Pagan was unanimously considered UF’s second-best 2011 commit behind only five/four-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL).

Head coach Urban Meyer promised after Saturday’s loss to Florida State that he and the coaching staff would “recruit our butt off” while simultaneously preparing for the Gators’ bowl game. Meyer has reportedly been hot in pursuit of four-star Miami DE commit Anthony Chickillo (Tampa, FL) who was also being recruited by McCarney.

Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times

Florida basketball drops after back-to-back wins

Despite winning back-to-back games including a 55-51 nail biter against the previously undefeated Florida State Seminoles (5-1) on Sunday, the Florida Gators (5-1) fell two spots each in both of this week’s Top 25 polls.

Despite Purdue and Washington falling behind Florida, the ESPN/USA Today poll elevated Connecticut, Minnesota, Georgetown and Memphis ahead of them. UConn entered the poll at No. 9 after defeating No. 2 Michigan State and No. 9 Kentucky over the last week. Minnesota simply beat West Virginia and North Dakota State, Georgetown got two 15-point wins over North Carolina State and UNC-Asheville, and Memphis took down Louisiana State and Tennessee-Martin.

The AP already had Memphis ahead of UF but elevated UConn, Tennessee, Georgetown and San Diego State while also dropping Purdue and Washington. UT beat both Virginia Commonwealth and then-No. 7 Villanova, while SDSU only won against Miami (OH) and San Diego Christian.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 10 (1,048)No. 8 (550)-
2W 77-69 vs. North Florida1-0No. 11 (995)No. 10 (535)-
3L 53-59 at No. 20 Wisconsin
W 86-56 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock
2-1No. 16 (619)No. 14 (359)-
4W 67-53 vs. Southern
W 79-59 vs. MTSU
4-1No. 15 (729)No. 13 (395)-
5W 86-60 at Jacksonville
W 67-66 vs. Florida State
6-1No. 15 (758)No. 12 (426)-
6L 64-65 at No. 12 UConn6-2No. 19 (434)No. 19 (258)-
7W 67-61 vs. No. 13 Kansas7-2No. 16 (699)No. 17 (296)-
8W 77-75 vs. Memphis
W 66-49 vs. Fresno State
9-2No. 13 (881)No. 14 (383)-
9W 76-34 vs. Savannah State10-2No. 12 (915)No. 13 (413)-
10W 67-58 vs. Richmond11-2No. 10 (1,052)No. 11 (473)12
11W 74-58 vs. South Carolina
W-OT 84-82 at Arkansas
13-2
(2-0 SEC)
No. 7
(1,205)
No. 7
(573)
8
12W 72-50 vs. Georgia
W 68-61 at Auburn
15-2
(4-0 SEC)
No. 6
(1,303)
No. 6
(639)
8
13W 68-62 at Alabama
W 67-41 vs. Tennessee
17-2
(6-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,436)
No. 4
(694)
5
14W 62-51 at Mississippi State
W 69-36 vs. Texas A&M
19-2
(8-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,482)
No. 4
(720)
3
15W 68-58 vs. Missouri
W 78-69 vs. Alabama
21-2
(10-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,477)
No. 4
(711)
5
16W 67-58 at Tennessee
W 69-59 at Kentucky
23-2
(12-0 SEC)
No. 2
(1,543)
No. 2
(752)
4
17W 71-66 vs. Auburn
W 75-71 at Ole Miss
25-2
(14-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(791)
3
18W 57-54 at Vanderbilt
W 79-61 vs. LSU
27-2
(16-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(793)
3
19W 72-46 at South Carolina
W 84-65 vs. Kentucky
29-2
(18-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(793)
2
Post-
season
W 72-49 vs. Missouri
W 56-49 vs. Tennessee
W 61-60 vs. Kentucky
32-2
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(794)
1
FinalW 67-55 vs. Albany
W 61-45 vs. Pittsburgh
W 79-68 vs. UCLA
W 62-52 vs. Dayton
L 53-63 vs. UConn
36-3
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
(4-1 NCAAT)
-No. 3
(735)
-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Duke (29), Michigan State (2), Ohio State, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Villanova, Purdue, Kentucky, Syracuse, Washington, Missouri, Baylor, Florida, Memphis, Georgetown, Minnesota, Gonzaga, Illinois, Temple, Texas, San Diego State, Butler, Tennessee, North Carolina

This Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan State, Syracuse, Missouri, Connecticut, Baylor, Kentucky, Villanova, Minnesota, Georgetown, Memphis, Florida, Tennessee, Purdue, San Diego State, Texas, Illinois, Washington, UNLV, Gonzaga, Brigham Young

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Duke (58), Michigan State (6), Ohio State, Kansas State (1), Pittsburgh, Kansas, Villanova, Kentucky, Syracuse, Purdue, Missouri, Baylor, Washington, Memphis, Minnesota, Florida, Georgetown, San Diego State, Illinois, Texas, Temple, Gonzaga, Brigham Young, Tennessee, North Carolina

This Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan State, Connecticut, Syracuse, Missouri, Kentucky, Baylor, Villanova, Tennessee, Memphis, Minnesota, Georgetown, San Diego State, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Brigham Young, Purdue, Washington, UNLV, Notre Dame

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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