Florida elevated in Top 25 polls after big win

The Florida Gators (8-2) took a step forward in the latest ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls after defeating the then-No. 6/6 Kansas State Wildcats 57-44 at the 2010 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL, on Saturday.

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 (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas State, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baylor, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Georgetown, Illinois, Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, Brigham Young, Memphis, Minnesota, Louisville, UNLV, Notre Dame, Florida, Texas

This Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Kansas State, Michigan State, Purdue, Kentucky, Baylor, Minnesota, Memphis, Tennessee, Florida, Notre Dame, Illinois, Texas, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, Louisville

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas State, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baylor, Villanova, San Diego State, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan State, Georgetown, Brigham Young, Kentucky, Memphis, Purdue, Louisville, Minnesota, Texas, UNLV, Notre Dame, Texas A&M
+ Florida received 55 votes (good for No. 27)

This Week 1-25: Duke (64), Ohio State (1), Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Georgetown, Kansas State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, Baylor, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Central Florida, Texas A&M

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Tebow scores twice in first start as Broncos fall

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow performed well in his first NFL start on Sunday. The rest of his team? Not so much.

Tebow completed 50 percent of his passes (8-of-16) for 138 yards and a touchdown and added eight carries for 78 yards and a rushing score as Denver fell 39-23 on the road to the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Both of Tebow’s touchdowns – a 40-yard QB draw on third-and-24 and 33-yard strike to wide receiver Brandon Lloyd – came in the first quarter and helped the Broncos jump out to an early 14-7 lead.

Unfortunately his defense and special teams failed to get him the ball more often. When they did, miscues followed.

Running back Lance Ball dropped a perfect pass from Tebow in the end zone for one touchdown, and Denver’s offensive line failed to provide the signal caller the type of protection he needed to make a number of other throws during the game.

Tebow’s 40-yard touchdown run was the longest by a signal caller in team history, and his 78 rushing yards are the second-most by a quarterback in a single game in the Broncos’ record books.

He also became only the third player (first rookie) in NFL history to complete a touchdown pass of 30 yards or more and run 40+ yards for a score in the same game.

It is unknown whether or not Tebow will retain the starting job for Denver’s next contest, a home game against Houston on Dec. 26.

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

FOUR BITS: Tebow starting, Addazio leaving?

1 » Four quarterbacks were selected within the first 85 picks of the 2010 NFL Draft, yet Denver Broncos rookie Tim Tebow – picked No. 25 overall in the first round – is the only one of the bunch yet to start a game at QB for his team this season. That will change Sunday as Tebow will take his place behind center for the 3-10 Broncos in relief of injured starter Kyle Orton (ribs). Tebow, who has taken almost every first-team snap in practice this week, already has four touchdowns this year (three rushing) but has played sparingly for Denver up until this point. The head coach who drafted him and believed in him, Josh McDaniels, is no longer with the club, and Tebow will be starting behind an offensive line that allowed Orton to be sacked 34 times in the team’s first 13 games. Nevertheless, all eyes will be on Tebow at 4:15 p.m. (ET) expecting him to show he has what it takes to play QB in the NFL.

2 » According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio will interview for the head coaching job with the Temple Owls. Addazio, who has never been a NCAA head coach, has been coaching in college since 1995 and is not likely to be retained at his current position by new Florida head coach Will Muschamp. Though a majority of fans are pleased with Addazio’s past success as a recruiter and coaching the offensive line, his struggles managing the Gators’ offense over the last two seasons have drawn their ire. Addazio is not the only candidate for the job but would be a big pick-up for a smaller school as he could bring in top recruits and likely perform better as a head coach than a coordinator.

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has missed his team’s past two games after his severe migraine headaches acted up again, is expected to return to the field this week. Harvin has undergone plenty of treatment for his migraines since entering the NFL, but doctors have continuously failed in pinpointing their cause or minimizing their affect on him. According to the player, he now has a “clear mind” and practiced “more explosive than when I left” after spending a week at a Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, meeting with a migraine specialist. Harvin is now on a new medicine that will help him control other triggers that might cause the headaches. “We covered pretty much every base. We’ve got a plan to prevent it, we’ve got a plan if it comes, and we’ve got a plan if it’s real bad,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

4 » Certain BCS bowl teams may be having problems selling out the tickets for their games, but Florida has had no issues getting rid of their allotment for the 2011 Outback Bowl. The Gators have sold their assigned 12,000 tickets for the event and fans are snatching up plenty of the non-allotted tickets to see head coach Urban Meyer lead the team for the last time against the Penn State Nittany Lions and soon-to-be 84-year-old head coach Joe Paterno.

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

Gators shine in 57-44 win over No. 6 Wildcats

Saturday was a day of redemption for the No. 24 Florida Gators. Down 20-8 to the No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats late in the first half, head coach Billy Donovan’s team came back from their deficit with solid defense and efficient shooting to prevail 57-44 at the 2010 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, FL.

Florida (8-2), which improved to 8-2 all-time in the event, held Kansas State (9-2) to 27.3 percent team shooting and outscored them 37-21 in the second half for their most impressive victory of the season.

Things started off slow for both teams but especially for the Gators, who did not score until junior point guard Erving Walker drained a jumper eight minutes into the game. The Wildcats jumped ahead 20-8 on a three-pointer by guard Jacob Pullen with 9:05 remaining in the first half but went on a significant drought from that point forward.

Down 12 after Pullen’s trey, Florida went on a 12-3 run to end the half and added an 8-0 run coming out of the locker rooms to take a 28-23 lead. The Wildcats would reduce their deficit to three, but the Gators kept inching further and further ahead eventually going up a game-high 18 on two free throws by Walker with 2:38 left in the game.

Sophomore G Kenny Boynton, who played the first game of his college career near his hometown in Broward County, was named the contest’s Most Valuable Player after posting a team-high 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting (2-for-4 from downtown). He rebounded significantly from his last two games, in which he combined to go 3-of-21 from the field and 1-for-14 from beyond the arc.

Boynton started 0-2 and also missed two consecutive free throws.

Walker had his most impressive game of the season with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting while dishing three assists and only turning the ball over once. Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin was his consistent self with seven rebounds to go along with 10 points.

Playing major minutes off the bench were freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin, freshman C Patric Young and sophomore forward Erik Murphy Young grabbed two big rebounds and swatted the ball away twice, while Murphy scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting while notching four boards.

Florida’s senior Fs, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus had juxtaposed performances. Parsons grabbed four rebounds, blocked three shots and scored seven points in 31 minutes, while Tyus played only 19 minutes and made one basket.

Pullen was Kansas State’s only effective scorer, but even he went 6-of-17 (1-for-17 from three) for a game-high 19 points. No other Wildcats player posted double-digit points and only two others (non-starters) made more than one basket.

UF out-shot KSU 53.5-27.3 percent and blocked five more shots but turned the ball over nine more times (17-8) and was out-rebounded 26-28.

Kansas State’s point total was their lowest in five seasons under head coach Frank Martin, and Florida played the best defense it has all season, holding a ranked opponent to under 50 points for the first time since 1968.

The Gators return to Gainesville, FL, to face Jacksonville on Monday at 1 p.m. The game will air live on Sun Sports (check your local listings).

Photo Credit: Jeffrey M. Boan/Associated Press

No. 24 Florida Gators vs. No. 6 Kansas State

Event: Orange Bowl Basketball Classic
Location: BankAtlantic Center – Sunrise, FL [Capacity: 20,737]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: FSN
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 24 FLORIDA GATORS No. 6 KANSAS ST. WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Frank Martin
Record: 7-2 Record: 9-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Kansas State -1.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is 7-2 when participating in the OBBC with their last loss coming to Richmond in 2009. The Gators’ previous loss in the event was in 1997.
» This is the first-ever meeting between Florida and Kansas State.
» The Gators are 12-9 all-time against current members of the Big 12. The team has earned a 2-1 mark in such games under Donovan.
» Florida has out-rebounded eight of nine opponents this season including their two losses. UF is averaging +7.3 rebounds per game more than their opposition.
»The Gators have forced 15.9 turnovers per game in their seven wins but only 8.5 per game in their two losses this season.
» Florida is 79-21 under Donovan in the month of December.
» Donovan needs just three victories to move into sole possession of third place in SEC history for most wins as an SEC head coach.
» Kansas State bests Florida in three of four major statistical categories nationally including points per game 76.2-70.9 (67th-161st), rebounds per game 42.4-36.8 (13th-132nd) and assists per game 15.3-14.3 (65th-108th). However, the Gators shoot better from the field than the Wildcats .482-.452 (33rd-100th).

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker…a backcourt duo that has combined to average 24.2 points per game and has accounted for 33 of their team’s 48 three-pointers this season. Boynton, however, is struggling as of late after shooting a combined 3-21 (1-14 from downtown) over the last two contests for a total of seven points.
» 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 more than 16 minutes in seven of nine games.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting 75 percent over the last three games and is becoming a force for Florida inside the paint.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who, after going scoreless against Central Florida, has gone 15-23 from the field over the last two contests for 34 points.
» Senior F Chandler Parsons…who is averaging 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game and is an integral part to the Gators’ success.
» Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin…who has posted a commendable 21-6 assist-to-turnover ratio while running the point in relief of Walker.
» Kansas State star G Jacob Pullen…who is averaging 16.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. Pullen has scored 18 points or more in half of his team’s games.
» Wildcats F Curtis Kelly…who is his team’s second-best scorer averaging 11.6 points along with 4.4 rebounds per game. Kelly missed KSU’s first three games of the season.

12/16: Donovan discusses team, Kansas State

No. 24 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.

TIME OFF A MUCH-NEEDED BREAK FOR FLORIDA

With their longest stretch off between games this season coming to a close, the Gators have been trying to improve while simultaneously studying for finals over the last week. Nevertheless, Donovan believes the time off has been a positive for the team, which has plenty to improve on through its first nine games this year.

“That’s been good for us,” he said. “It’s been pretty productive. We practiced on Sunday and Monday, took Tuesday off and then Wednesday was a pretty big day for our guys academically. It’s always a balance. There’s so much demand on them academically in terms of papers and finals and things like that. We were able to get some work done on things we need to. Practice time has been good for our team. We have been able to address and work on some things we need to improve on.”

What exactly has the team made adjustments to over the last week? “Offensively just our ability to move the ball, catch the ball, pass it,” Donovan said. “Being a little bit more cohesive on offense. Trying to take advantage of our personnel. We’re getting better in that area. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think we’ve made some positive strides.

“The last four games we’ve done a pretty good job in terms of field goal percentage, defense, the number of points allowed. I’d like to see us defend the three-point line a little bit better than we are, but we got better there. The next step is: Can we put it all together? Can we defend like we need to and can we execute offensively in terms of taking advantage the five guys on the floor – them making decisions to make the game easy for each other.”

SHOOTING ISSUES ARE CONCERNING BUT CORRECTABLE

As a team Florida has really struggled shooting from, well, all over the floor. Though everyone is having issues, no one is performing worse right now while putting up shots than sophomore guard Kenny Boynton. Donovan, though concerned with his recent performances, believes confidence is the way Boynton can improve.

“That’s a really hard thing. One of the things I try to do as a coach is give our guys confidence. The worst thing is when a guy has an open shot and is tentative. That’s a real hard thing,” he said. “I think Dan Werner a little bit last year went through that. He wasn’t really sure when to shoot, when not to shoot. And you’re trying to instill confidence and give that confidence. At the end of the day, when a guy is shooting the basketball, as much as I can tell them to shoot that basketball, ‘I believe in you,’ the confidence still has to be internally that they believe it’s going in. And I try to help in that area.

“Kenny, in the last couple of games, has played phenomenal. He’s played great floor game. He’s defended very well; he’s been a much better help defender. He’s helped on the backboard and obviously his assist-to-turnover ratio has been much better. When you focus on things that you can do and you have control over, you have a better chance of making shots.”

To his credit, Boynton is doing exactly what Donovan is asking him to do. “You just keep shooting until you know, one game, it gets on, and then everything else will fall in place,” he said. “Not really too much in my head. Other than [three-point range] I’m shooting the ball 50 percent from the field. I just got to find other ways to score.”

Read much, much more from Donovan and UF basketball…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/16: Donovan discusses team, Kansas State

Jury still out on Florida basketball through nine

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Correspondent

After nine games, the Florida Gators men’s basketball team is a hard-to-gauge 7-2 with losses to a top-five Ohio State team in Gainesville, FL, and an embarrassing loss to a possible NCAA Tournament team in Central Florida in Orlando, FL. Is this team closer to the top-10 ranked one that led Ohio State at the 12-minute mark of the second half or more akin to the one that only beat Morehead State by six and lost to UCF?

Complicating the issue is the curious combination of players struggling offensively and extended minutes for young players who may still improve dramatically in the coming months. It’s much easier to look at the often contradicting facts than to make any certain predictions for this team going forward.

Simply put, the Gators have not been particularly noteworthy on either offense or defense as of yet, except in a few curious instances. Checking their advanced statistics so far reveals a few things about how the team has played up until this point.

Read the rest of Malik’s commentary on Florida basketball…after the jump!
Continue Reading » Jury still out on Florida basketball through nine

TWO BITS: All-Americans for volleyball, baseball

1 » Florida Gators junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was named a first-team All-American by the AVCA on Wednesday. Three of her teammates – middle back Lauren Bledsoe, outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and OH Callie Rivers – were given honorable mention recognition by the AVCA. Murphy was also the 2010 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. She, Bledsoe and Rivers earned 2010 All-SEC first-team honors, while Jaeckel was selected to the second team.

2 » Three Gators baseball players – sophomore third baseman/designated hitter Austin Maddox, junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis and junior first baseman Preston Tucker were named to the 2011 NCBWA and Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American Teams on Friday. Maddox earned second-team honors from the NCBWA and third-team honors from Louisville Slugger. Panteliodis and Tucker were awarded third-team honors by the NCBWA but were placed on the second and third team, respectively, by Louisville Slugger. Florida’s 2011 baseball season begins with a three-game home stand against South Florida from Feb. 18-20.

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