It took 15 seasons with the Florida Gators for head coach Billy Donovan to earn his first conference coaching honor despite winning two national championships, coaching in three title games and leading his team to three-straight SEC Tournament victories. Coming off his fifth league regular season title (third outright), Donovan learned Tuesday that he has won his second conference coaching award in the last three seasons as he was chosen as the 2013 SEC Coach of the Year by his peers.
Donovan’s Gators (24-6, 14-4 SEC) opened the SEC slate with eight-straight victories and a 27.75-point margin of victory in those games. Though Florida slid a bit and lost four of its final 10 games in-conference, the Gators still won the league title outright and were the only team in the SEC to remain in the top 25 polls all season long.
UF finished 15-0 at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on the season, the second-best home record in school history (18-0 – 2006-07) and fifth time Donovan has led his team to an undefeated record in the O’Dome.
Florida also helped Donovan achieve his 15th-straight 20-win season dating back to 1999. He has the third-longest active streak of 20-win seasons behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (17) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (16) and fifth-longest all-time.
Donovan is now known as the dean of SEC coaches despite being younger than five of his other 13 peers. In his 17th season with the Gators, he is the longest tenured active head coach in the league and has seen 28 coaches come and go through the SEC while he has remained at Florida.
He also this season became the third coach in SEC history to win 400 games and heads into the 2013 SEC Tournament with 410 wins, just 38 behind LSU’s Dale Brown (448) and many more back of Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (875).
Florida also had a number of its players honored Tuesday by the league’s coaches:
Senior forward Erik Murphy was chosen for the First Team All-SEC with senior guard Kenny Boynton, redshirt senior G Mike Rosario and junior center Patric Young each earning Second Team nods. (Rosario and Young tied in voting; ties are not broken.)
Young, who was named the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Monday, and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin were named to the SEC All-Defensive Team, and freshman G Michael Frazier II won a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Other league awards went to Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SEC Player of the Year), Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel (SEC Freshman of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year) and UK’s Kyle Wiltjer (SEC Sixth Man of the Year).
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