Florida Gators to open 2015 SEC Basketball Tournament vs. Alabama Crimson Tide + Bracket

Eight-seed Florida Gators men’s basketball (15-16, 8-10 SEC) will take on the nine-seed Alabama Crimson Tide (18-13, 8-10 SEC) in the second round of the 2015 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday, March 12 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The contest, set to tip off at 1 p.m. and air live on the SEC Network, will be the second meeting between the programs this season as the Gators previously defeated the Tide 52-50 on Jan. 27 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan is 22-5 against Alabama with victories in 10-straight meetings and wins in 12 of the last 13 showdowns between the teams. Donovan is also 9-0 all-time against Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant, a former Gators assistant.

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Fastbreak: Dorian Finney-Smith helps Florida scrape past Alabama 52-50

The Florida Gators‘ season was not saved on Tuesday night, but Florida (11-9, 4-3 SEC) did avoid blowing yet another double-digit lead as it inched its way past the Alabama Crimson Tide (13-7, 3-4 SEC) in the final seconds of the contest to pull out a 52-50 win at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The Gators, losers of three-straight games, avoided dropping four contests in a row for the first time since 2003-04 as head coach Billy Donovan improved to 10-0 all-time against the Crimson Tide.

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

It was over when: Alabama erased a five-point Florida lead as Ricky Tarrant drained a three (giving him 12 points in the half) with two minutes to play. Still tied with less than 30 seconds left, Gators redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith received a pass beyond the arc, pump faked and drove the lane to finish with a hammer dunk, putting UF up 52-50 with 22 seconds to play. It wound up being the game-winning basket for the Gators, as Finney-Smith delivered a block at the other end to negate a shot attempt and conclude the contest. “It was a little anger, I struggled tonight, but my teammates did a good job staying together when adversity came,” Finney-Smith told ESPN after the game. Added Donovan: “I thought he had a pretty decent look to take a three, it was probably a smart decision to drive it, obviously with the way it finished up. … It was good to see him go to the rim strong like that.”

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Gameday: Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide – Donovan struggling with inconsistent team

Location: Coleman Coliseum – Tuscaloosa, Alabama [Capacity: 15,383]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, Sean Farnham, Shannon Spake)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 92/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 10-9 (3-3 SEC) Record: 13-6 (2-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -1.5


The Gators are not a good team losing games, they’re a floundering group of players still trying to find their footing 19 games into the 2014-15 regular season. This is not opinion, it is fact, and it is Donovan’s unwavering belief, too.

To a similar point, Florida has not played well for 40 minutes in quite a while. It may put together some solid 30-, 20- or 10-minute stretches, but the Gators getting the most out of their abilities for 40 minutes? That is not happening.

“This group is never ‘all right.’ Ever. Ever. They’re not. They’re ‘all right’ when I can see them do it day in and day out. And they really, really struggle in that area. They really, really struggle,” Donovan said on Monday.

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Snell’s Slant: Enough is enough, time for changes

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

Why does this feel like we’ve been here before? Reflecting on Saturday’s game brings me back to the 2013 season finale against Florida State when Florida of course wanted to win but might have settled for a moral victory, a hard-fought close game.

Yes, the Gators did fight hard on Saturday. Yes, the game was close (21-21) early in the second half. But Florida lost by 21 and neither an actual win nor a moral victory was in the cards. Plus, when did the concept of the University of Florida playing for a moral victory ever even become acceptable? When did it become OK to play to keep the score close?

The empty feeling in the pit of my stomach is the unquestionable fact that the Gators have become irrelevant on the national stage. Maybe I was just drinking Will Muschamp’s Kool-Aid when he said this was the best and most talented team he’s had in his time at Florida. Perhaps I just wanted to believe Florida was on its way. The fact of the matter is, I was wrong, and the Crimson Tide had absolutely no problem proving that they remain in a completely different league than the once-mighty Gators.

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42 Florida-Alabama questions, answered

During Florida Gators football games – especially exciting wins or devastating losses – the mentions pile up on the OnlyGators.com Twitter account (@onlygators) and there is simply not enough time to read and respond to all of the questions and comments.

An exceptionally large number of questions came through on during the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide‘s 42-21 demolition of the Gators, so I felt it was best to use this space to answer as many of the serious, rhetorical and inflammatory questions as possible.

Here are 42 different questions that were asked during or shortly after Saturday’s loss. This is just a sampling of the material in the @onlygators mention feed that afternoon.

Answers are in 140 characters are less – some serious, other sarcastic.

@pisanjoe (Joe Pisani) Looked that way to me. Why does it not get reviewed…oh wait, we’re in Bama.
Context: Junior wide receiver Latroy Pittman catching the ball with a toe inbounds.

With all plays reviewable by the referees, I was very surprised the replay official did not stop action and look at it. He was in.

@pisanjoe (Joe Pisani) What is the #Gators current 3rd down defensive stop percentage? Seems like we couldn’t stop Kentucky at all last week.

Florida is now ranked 96th nationally in third down defense, allowing 21-of-46 attempts to be converted (.457).

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TWO BITS: Florida grades, Gators recruiting

1 » The folks over at Pro Football Focus chose to evaluate the Florida Gators vs. No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide contest on Saturday as their College Game of the Week. As such, PFF described the Gators’ performance as “simply a putrid defensive effort that saw Florida miss 30 tackles.” Three different UF players – redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor, senior safety Jabari Gorman and redshirt sophomore defensive back Brian Poole missed four tackles each, while junior DB Marcus Maye was “the only Florida starter not charged with an official missed tackle.”

Gorman and junior LB Antonio Morrison – due to their pass coverage and run defense, respectively – graded out as the worst of the Gators’ defenders on Saturday, rated lower than any offensive player. Redshirt senior tackle Chaz Green and redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel were given the lowest grades on the offensive side of the ball for their pass blocking and passing, respectively. All-in-all, it was a terrible day for Florida football, and PFF‘s detailed statistics break it down quite nicely.

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9/20: Florida-Alabama post-game report

A turnover-filled yet nevertheless tied game in the third quarter turned into a 42-21 blowout victory for the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC), which dominated the third quarter and stomped on the visiting Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media after the devastating defeat.


» Alabama improved to 24-14 all-time against Florida and now holds an 8-5 edge in games played in Tuscaloosa. UA has won four-straight games against UF, outscoring it 143-50 in those contests.
» The Gators are now 4-13 against ranked opponents under Muschamp.
» Florida is now 4-14 under Muschamp when tied or trailing at the half and 5-12 when an opponent scores 21 points or more in a game.
» The Gators’ defense gave up a school-record 645 total yards on Saturday.
» Florida forced four turnovers on Saturday and is now +8 on the season after coughing up three of its own.
» The Gators allowed the Crimson Tide to convert seven-straight third-down attempts including all six they tried in the third quarter of the game. Alabama finished 12-for-16 on third downs, while Florida was a paltry 2-of-13.
» All 21 of UF’s points on Saturday came off turnovers.
» The Gators did not call a single timeout on Saturday.
» The Crimson Tide completely dominated the third quarter, outgaining the visitors 160-41, out-possessing them 12:02-2:58 and converting six third downs (two for touchdowns).
» Sophomore safety Keanu Neal’s fumble return touchdown was Florida’s first since 2011 and the sixth-longest in school history (49 yards).
» Redshirt senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar has now caught a pass in 31-straight games. He is four games away from tying a school record for most consecutive contests with a reception.
» Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel completed just 32.1 percent of his passes on Saturday, the lowest mark in his career for a game he started and did not leave due to injury. His 57.5 quarterback rating was the lowest of his career for a game he started.

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Twitter Chatter: Former Gators comment as No. 3 Alabama roasts Florida in Tuscaloosa

In a new feature here on OnlyGators.com, we take a look at what former and current Florida Gators players had to say on social media during the team’s latest game.

Florida (2-1, 1-1 SEC) was upended 42-21 by the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Despite some positive returns early, the mood turned quite sour as the Crimson Tide broke a 21-21 tie by scoring three-straight touchdowns to end Saturday’s affair.

Check out all of the tweets…after the break!

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