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

FLORIDA GATORS ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
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

FLORIDA’S JUST ‘NOT OK’

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.

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

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Florida vs. Alabama post-game: Prather surges, defense struggles, Donovan tempers excitement

No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (21-2, 10-0 SEC) found an offensive surge in the second half on Saturday afternoon to take down the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-14, 3-7 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Following the Gators’ 78-69 victory, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss the contest and his team’s difficult upcoming schedule.

GETTING HIS GROOVE BACK

Senior forward Casey Prather has been dealing with an injured ankle for a couple of weeks, but it seemed to truly start bothering him over the last two games – the first in which he failed to score double-digit points this season. In fact, Prather has looked nothing like the player that has been Florida’s leading scorer all season, combining for just 12 points and four rebounds in those two contests.

Saturday was a much-needed step in the right direction for the Gators’ most improved player, who efficiently scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, grabbed six boards and dished three assists. According to Donovan, Prather was a simple decision away from not even stepping foot on the court.

“[Saturday] morning at about 8:30, I didn’t know if we were going to play him,” he explained. “I really left it up to him. He didn’t feel 100 percent. We had talked about just resting him, maybe just giving him time and see what would happen for our next game. He made the decision that he wanted to play and try it.”

Continue Reading » Florida vs. Alabama post-game: Prather surges, defense struggles, Donovan tempers excitement

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Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida outlasts Alabama 78-69

No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (21-2, 10-0 SEC) pulled away in the second half on Saturday afternoon to pick up a 78-69 home win over the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-14, 3-7 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

UF extended a school record by winning its 15th consecutive SEC home game, a streak that dates back to Jan. 9, 2013. The Gators have also started the season 10-0 in league play for just the second time in school history (11-0, 2006-07) and have posted the second-best start to a season in program history (24-2, 2006-07).

Florida won its 15th-straight game and picked up a victory for the 20th time in its last 21 contests. UF’s 29-game home winning streak is currently tied for longest in the nation.

OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Moments after the Crimson Tide cut the Gators’ lead to single digits, sophomore guard Michael Fraizer II drained a wide-open three-pointer to give UF back a 12-point advantage with five minutes to play. UA never got back within seven points. Frazier wrapped things up with 14 points on 3-of-8 shooting from downtown with three dimes, two boards, a steal and a block.

Prominent player (first half): Senior forward Will Yeguete was Florida’s only consistent scorer in the first 20 minutes of the game, matching a season-high with 12 points by cleaning up under the basket. The Gators would not have been tied at the half had it not been for Yeguete’s early contributions. He also grabbed three rebounds, registered two swipes and dished four assists.

Prominent player (second half): Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, going 3-for-4 from downtown over the latter portion of the contest. His long-range shooting and ball handling were largely responsible for the Gators achieving a game-high 15-point lead with about nine minutes to play. He also picked up four boards, three assists and a steal.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 3 Florida outlasts Alabama 78-69

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Florida-Alabama preview: Prather still hobbled

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Mark Jones, Dick Vitale)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(3) FLORIDA GATORS ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 20-2 (9-0 SEC) Record: 9-13 (3-6 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -15 | O/U: 123.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Alabama actually leads Florida 73-63 in the all-time series, but the Gators hold a 39-19 advantage over the Tide in games played in the O’Dome and have won eight-straight in the series. Under Donovan, UF is 20-5 against UA (9-0 at home).
» Donovan is 13-2 against his former assistants, 7-0 going head-to-head with Grant.
» Florida and Alabama are squaring off for the second time this season after the Gators earned a 68-62 victory over the Crimson Tide on the road in Tuscaloosa, AL two weeks ago on Jan. 23.
» Florida is currently riding a school-record 28-game home winning streak (third longest in the nation). UF set a program record Tuesday by recording its 14th consecutive home win against league opponents.
» The Gators have opened league play with a 9-0 record for just the second time under Donovan. The school record for best SEC start is 11-0, set in 2007.
» Florida is on a 14-game winning streak and has won 19 of its last 20 games.
» The Gators are 72-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF has started 20-2 through 22 games for the third time in school history. The first two times the Gators achieved that mark, they won the national title (2005-06, 2006-07).
» Florida is 8-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. UF is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» The Gators are 5-2 in true road games this season.

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Florida-Alabama preview: Donovan talks status of Walker, Grant, three-point defense

Location: Coleman Coliseum – Tuscaloosa, AL [Capacity: 15,383]
Date/Time: Thursday at 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2 (Rece Davis, Bob Knight)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

href=”http://www.gatorzone.com/basketball/men/bios.php” target=”_blank”>Roster

| Schedule

(6) FLORIDA GATORS ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 15-2 (4-0 SEC) Record: 8-9 (2-2 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5.5 | O/U: 123.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Alabama actually leads Florida 73-62 in the all-time series, but the Gators boast a 19-5 record under Donovan. UF has won seven-straight against UA and nine of the last 10 games in the series. However, the Gators are 17-47 on the road against the Crimson Tide (5-3 under Donovan) with three consecutive victories.
» Florida is on a nine -game winning streak and has won 14 of its last 15 games.
» Donovan is 12-2 against his former assistants, 6-0 going head-to-head with Grant.
» The Gators are 67-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 7-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. UF is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» The Gators are 3-2 in true road games this season.
» UF has used seven different starting lineups in 17 games.

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SEC Tournament – Gameday: Florida vs. Alabama

Location: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 18,160]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

TV: ABC/ABCHD (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 126/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: None | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

(1) FLORIDA GATORS (4) ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 25-6 (14-4 SEC) Record: 21-11 (12-6 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -11.5 | O/U 117

ANOTHER INJURY; TOUGH PRACTICES

After Friday’s victory, Donovan explained that senior forward Erik Murphy suffered a knee contusion during practice on Wednesday and was limited for the rest of the week. Murphy wound up having a career game on Friday, registering career-highs of 27 points and 12 rebounds despite wearing a brace on his knee during the contest.

“I just was feeling a little pain in it in practice and wanted to be cautious coming into the tournament and just pretty much treated it, iced it and went a little sleep. But it’s fine,” Murphy said after the game.

Donovan, however, was worried that Murphy may not even be available to play.

“I was concerned because the trainer was concerned. He didn’t practice. It was really bizarre,” he explained. “We had just finished a stretch, and we were doing just some going through like pick-and-roll coverage. It wasn’t even a contact drill, more of a teaching drill. He kind of planted his foot and went to turn. He felt something, had kind of a sharp pain in his knee. Didn’t know what it was. They pulled him out. He went back in the training room and then came back out and it was still bothering him. And the trainer felt like it was in his knee joint and really didn’t know what it was.

“Nothing showed up on the MRI. It was negative. That night he started to feel progressively better. There was no swelling. There was nothing on the MRI. So, more than anything else, we felt like everything was fine. At the time they were concerned. Not being a doctor, I don’t know, I just go by what they tell me. They were concerned. I think when the MRI came back later that night and it was clean, I think we felt like he was going to be able to play, wouldn’t be a problem.”

Donovan was quite pleased with how Murphy and the rest of the Gators performed on Friday coming off of the first significant amount of practice time the team has had with a full complement of players.

Read the rest of the Florida-Alabama gameday preview…after the break!
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Gameday: No. 6/8 Florida Gators vs. Alabama

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Mark Jones, Jimmy Dykes)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 6/8 FLORIDA GATORS ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 22-5 (12-3 SEC) Record: 19-9 (11-4 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -16 | O/U 120

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 73-60, but the Gators are 17-5 against the Crimson Tide under Donovan. UF is 38-19 all-time against UA in Gainesville including 8-0 since Donovan took over.
» Donovan is 4-0 against Grant, his former assistant coach.
» Florida is undefeated at home this season and has started 13-0 in the O’Dome for the sixth time under Donovan (second in the last three seasons).
» Four Gators starters are averaging double figures in scoring. The Tigers have three players that score in double digits on average.
» Florida is 47-5 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (21-4 in 2012-13).
» Alabama has won five of its last six games, an impressive feat considering the Crimson Tide lost six of eight over a five-week span from Dec. 1, 2002 to Jan. 8, 2013. UA’s lone loss in its last six games was in a triple-overtime thriller at LSU.
» The Gators are 4-1 against top-25 opponents this season after going 3-5 against ranked adversaries last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams.
» Florida is 0-4 this season in single-digit decisions; Alabama is 8-2 in similar contests.
» The Gators are second nationally in scoring margin (+29.6), third in scoring defense (53.5), seventh in field goal defense (.375), eighth in field goal percentage (.489), ninth in three-point shooting (8.7 per game) and assist-turnover ratio (1.40), 20th in turnover margin (3.4), 21st in assists (15.8), and 24th in three-point percentage (.384) and three-point defense (.300).
» Florida is also seventh nationally in fouling, committing 14.1 per game.
» The Crimson Tide is 16th nationally in steals (9.0) and 20th in scoring defense (58.2).

INJURY REPORT

FLORIDA
» Active: Freshman Michael Frazier II (back), junior Casey Prather (facial laceration)
» Questionable: Junior Will Yeguete (knee)

Read the rest of the Florida-Alabama preview with much more after the break!
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