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.

Gators lose four-star LB Shazier to Buckeyes

Four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL) decided to decommit from the Florida Gators early Friday while taking an official visit in Columbus, OH, only to commit to the Ohio State Buckeyes later that evening.

One of the country’s top-ranked linebackers and a top-five commitment for the Gators, Shazier had received offers from more than three dozen schools including almost every major program in the country but committed to Florida and head coach Urban Meyer in June. After Meyer resigned, Shazier decided to look around and was called on by Ohio State and the LSU Tigers.

Because he plans to be an early enrollee, Shazier had to make his decision now rather than later.

New head coach Will Muschamp had met with Shazier and expressed his interest in retaining him as one of the Gators’ recruits. With his reneging, Florida will only have one front seven defensive commitment left on board in four-star defensive end Clay Burton (Venice, FL). Four-star DE Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC), formerly the Gators No. 2 overall commit, decommitted in late Nov.

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas/ESPN

Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2010

According to the University of Florida, 33 student-athletes will be earning their degrees in commencement ceremonies on campus over the weekend. Twelve Florida Gators football players and eight swimmers lead the pack, which also includes some of the most accomplished athletes in school history like football’s Chas Henry and swimming’s Gemma Spofforth. OGGOA readers can view the entire list below as compiled by the University Athletic Association.

Continue Reading » Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2010

Could Tim Tebow start Sunday for the Broncos?

With veteran quarterback Kyle Orton performing well in front of him much of the season, Denver Broncos rookie signal caller Tim Tebow was relegated to back-up and spot duty. Though he has scored four touchdowns this year (three rushing), Tebow and many of his fans knew it would be a reach for him to start a game in 2010.

That is until things changed in Denver.

The Broncos began playing worse and worse each week, head coach Josh McDaniels was fired and replaced with interim coach Eric Studesville, and Orton injured his ribs on Sunday against Arizona during a terrible performance.

Those events have led to Tebow taking the majority of first-team snaps during the last two practices even though Studesville claimed earlier in the week that Orton would be his starter. Studesville changed his tune a bit Thursday, saying he was “not in a hurry to make a decision” about his starting QB.

“He did a nice job in practice yesterday. He went in there and ran the huddle, he did a nice job throwing the ball, and going through alert systems in the run game,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said, according to The Denver Post. “It was great for Timmy to get in there and have the majority of the snaps. As practice went along he got better and better, he felt more and more comfortable with everybody.”

Columnists and fans in the Mile-High City have been clamoring for the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft to see the field for an extensive period of time behind center. That time may finally come on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

Checking in on former Florida Gators in the NBA

With the 2010-11 NBA season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators have been making strong impressions on the league with a few having a significant impact on their team’s game-to-game performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores for approximately the first third of the season to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished thus far. Figures below are per-game averages:

F/C AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks: 17.0 points* [57.1% shooting – team-best], 9.8 rebounds [team-high], 3.3 assists, 0.85 blocks, 0.81 steals, 83% FT …in 33.4 minutes with 26-of-26 starts

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: 14.0 points [51.4% shooting], 11.7 rebounds [team-high], 2.7 assists, 1.63 blocks [team-high], 1.17 steals, 73% FT …in 36.8 minutes with 24-of-24 starts

F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: 14.8 points [44.6% shooting], 10.1 rebounds [team-high], 3.8 assists, 0.18 blocks, 1.00 steals, 72% FT …in 35.9 minutes with 17-of-25 starts [17 games played~]

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: 8.0 points [51.2% shooting], 8.2 rebounds [team-high], 0.5 assists, 0.23 blocks, 0.54 steals, 80% FT …in 26.5 minutes with 0-of-27 starts [13 games played`]

G/F COREY BREWER, Minnesota Timberwolves: 9.6 points [36.9% shooting, 28.3% downtown], 3.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.19 blocks, 1.81 steals [team-high], 75% FT …in 25.1 minutes with 3-of-26 starts

F/C MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: 6.9 points [43.3% shooting, 51.5% downtown (team-best)], 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.28 blocks, 0.33 steals, 75% FT …in 21.4 minutes with 0-of-24 starts [18 games played]

C MARREESE SPEIGHTS, Philadelphia 76ers: 4.9 points [45.0% shooting], 3.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.33 blocks, 0.19 steals, 65% FT …in 12.5 minutes with 0-of-25 starts [21 games played]

PG JASON WILLIAMS, Orlando Magic: 2.4 points [37.1% shooting, 31.8% downtown], 1.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 steals …in 11.4 minutes with 0-of-25 starts [14 games played]

G/F MIKE MILLER, Miami Heat: Has yet to play this season after breaking his thumb during preseason practice; is expected to return to his team soon.

NOTES
* SG Joe Johnson averages 17.1 points per game for Atlanta, 0.1 more than Horford.
~ Lee has missed eight games after suffering a serious infection in his elbow.
` Haslem is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his foot.

Photo Credit: Atlanta Hawks

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