No. 2 Florida vs. Auburn post-game report: Gators hope to learn from close win

No. 2 Florida Gators basketball (24-2, 13-0 SEC) squeaked by the Auburn Tigers (12-12, 4-9 SEC) on Wednesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, staving off an upset big and coming away with a 71-66 victory that kept a number of major streaks alive. Following the close win, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss the win.

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Florida is now 20-4 against Auburn under Donovan. UF has won seven-straight, 17 of the last 18 in the series and nine in a row at home. The Gators and Tigers squared off in a home-and-home series for the first time since 1991.
» UF matched a program-best by opening the season 24-2, a record it only previously achieved at the start of the 2006-07 season. Florida has also set a school-record by starting 13-0 in league play.
» The Gators are in the midst of the longest winning streak in program history. UF won its 18th-straight game on Wednesday and has been victorious in 23 of the last 24 contests.
» Florida has won 30 consecutive home games as well as 15-in-a-row against SEC opponents in the O’Dome, both school records.
» The Gators are 76-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 11-2 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.

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Fastbreak: Auburn melts down as No. 2 Florida escapes to win program-record 18th-straight game

A questionable decision and boneheaded play negated the Auburn Tigers (12-12, 4-9 SEC) upset bid on Wednesday night in Gainesville, FL as the No. 2 Florida Gators (24-2, 13-0 SEC) squeaked out a 71-66 victory in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Florida set a school record with its 18th-straight victory, captured its 30th win in a row at home and matched the program record for best start to a season (2006-07). The Gators also extended a program record with their best-ever start in league play and recorded their 16th consecutive home win against an SEC opponent.

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

It was over when: Florida senior center Patric Young rebounded a missed Chris Denson free throw with 21 seconds to play, and Auburn’s Asauhn Dixon-Tatum inexplicably fouled him with UF in the double bonus. Young, who has hit .714 over the last six games from the charity stripe, made both free throws to give the Gators a two-point lead. But the game really ended on the ensuing inbounds pass when Allen Payne of the Tigers threw the ball to a teammate who was not expecting it only to see the rock sail out of bounds. Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was fouled immediately afterward and hit two more free throws to clinch the victory.

Prominent player: Young dominated in the second half and carried Florida on his back at the tail end of Wednesday’s contest, finishing with a team-high 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He hit 7-of-9 free throws, grabbed seven rebounds, dished three assists and registered two blocks including a highlight swat where he charged down the court on a fastbreak, flew into the lane and saved a layup with eight minutes to play.

Perfect play: The Gators appeared down in the dumps trailing by two with less than a minute to play, but sophomore guard Michael Frazier II turned all of that around by draining a big three from point-blank range on an assist from senior forward Casey Prather with 42 seconds left. Though AU did tie the game on its next possession, the huge basket by Frazier helped reverse UF’s fortunes. It was especially big for Frazier, who went just 3-for-9 from beyond the arc on Wednesday and even injured his left wrist early in the second half. Frazier notched nine points, while Prather was an efficient 6-for-8 for 16 points with nine boards.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Auburn melts down as No. 2 Florida escapes to win program-record 18th-straight game

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No. 2 Florida vs. Auburn preview: Maturing Scottie Wilbekin becomes go-to player Gators need

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports / FSN (Dave Baker, Larry Conley) [Channel Finder]
SiriusXM: 108/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(2) FLORIDA GATORS AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Tony Barbee
Record: 23-2 (12-0 SEC) Record: 12-11 (4-8 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -17.5 | O/U: OFF

This is what it takes to get Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan off your back for a second: 44 points, eight assists, six rebounds and most importantly, zero turnovers, combined in a two-game road stretch in two of the toughest places to play in the Southeastern Conference.

Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin achieved just that last week, and his reward was Donovan sticking purely with praise – rather than adding his customary remark about improvement – when asked about his rising floor general’s ball control during two huge wins against Tennessee and Kentucky.

“I trust him with the ball in his hands,” Donovan said on Monday. “I think as time goes on and we run things on offense, everyone gets more comfortable. Everyone starts to fit into roles. But that is a tribute to him taking care of the basketball and making good decisions.”

A special effort is required to get Donovan to praise a player without offering some form of suggestion for how he can improve. Yet Donovan chose to ignore that Wilbekin made some careless drives and took some rushed shots last Tuesday in Knoxville, TN, plays that are not technically turnovers but nevertheless resulted in wasted possessions.

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2/17: Wilbekin and Young step up, Hill hurt, Gators taking things game-by-game

No. 2 Florida Gators basketball (23-2, 12-0 SEC) takes a break from its long road stretch with a home game Wednesday against the Auburn Tigers (12-11, 4-8 SEC). Before the first practice of the week, Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss the upcoming contest and difficult road ahead.

INJURY UPDATE

Freshman point guard Kasey Hill played only 14 minutes off the bench on Saturday after injuring his groin during the game and being sidelined for the duration of the contest. On Monday, Donovan announced that Hill would miss practice and deemed him “doubtful and not going to play on Wednesday.”

Hill’s absence means senior PG Scottie Wilbekin will see an extended stay on the court, but the Gators will also need others to handle the ball when Wilbekin does take a seat. Donovan plans to go with a committee of redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith, sophomore guard Michael Frazier II and sophomore G/F DeVon Walker, all of whom handled the ball earlier this season when both Wilbekin and Hill missed games.

Donovan also noted that neither DeVon Walker nor freshman F Chris Walker were injured on Saturday but neither saw much action (seven minutes combined) due to a variety of factors including Florida’s frontcourt not being in foul trouble and the seniors not getting winded during the second half.

Continue Reading » 2/17: Wilbekin and Young step up, Hill hurt, Gators taking things game-by-game

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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The Fastbreak: No. 7 Florida tops Auburn 68-61

The No. 7 Florida Gators (15-2, 4-0 SEC) escaped with a 68-61 road victory against the Auburn Tigers (8-7, 0-4 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Auburn Arena in Auburn, AL, improving to 7-2 in single-digit decisions this season.

The Gators won their ninth-straight game and picked up a win for the 14th time in their last 15 contests. OnlyGators.com breaks it down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Florida senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, with less than 90 seconds to play and his team leading by one, hit a step-back jumper to give the Gators some breathing room. On the next two offensive possessions, Wilbekin struggled at the line but still drained two of four free throws to boost his team’s advantage to five points. He wrapped things up with 16 points (2-for-2 from downtown, 6-for-8 from the charity stripe), three boards and a dime. The Tigers never scored again.

“I was happy he put some pressure at the basket,” said head coach Billy Donovan after the game. “He made a tough shot in the lane.”

Prominent players: Returning from a bone bruise on his knee that forced him to miss two games, senior forward Casey Prather went off, scoring a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. He hit 5-of-7 free throws and grabbed six boards with an assist and steal rounding out his stat line on the afternoon.

“I didn’t really know what to expect out of him,” Donovan said. “[Limited minutes] went out the window at the half when he had 16. He was clearly going to play a lot more minutes – he played so well. I’m not so sure, if he was hurt again this game, if this was a game we could’ve pulled out.”

Senior center Patric Young was ineffective in the first half but came on strong in the latter 20 minutes, finishing with 13 points and six boards. He went 5-for-8 from the floor and registered two big blocks including one with 25 seconds to play and his team only leading by four points at the time.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the…break.
Continue Reading » The Fastbreak: No. 7 Florida tops Auburn 68-61

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No. 7 Florida at Auburn preview: Prather cleared

Location: Auburn Arena – Auburn, AL [Capacity: 9,121]
Date/Time: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Joe Davis, Joe Dean) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 136/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(7) FLORIDA GATORS AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Tony Barbee
Record: 14-2 (3-0 SEC) Record: 8-6 (0-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -8

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Auburn actually leads Florida 87-73 in the all-time series, but the Gators boast an 18-4 record under Donovan. UF has won five-straight against AU, 15 of the last 16 and seven in a row on the road.
» The two teams will square off in a home-and-home series this season for the first time since 1991. Florida won both games by a combined five points.
» The Gators on Tuesday broke program record for longest home winning streak. UF has now won 25-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to last season when it went undefeated in its home gym. The streak is the third-longest nationally.
» Florida is on an eight -game winning streak and has won 13 of its last 14 games.
» The Gators are 66-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 6-2 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 on Tuesday used their seventh different starting lineup in 16 games.
» UF is 1-2 in true road games this season.

INJURY UPDATES

Donovan started off by announcing that senior forward Casey Prather, who has missed consecutive games with a “pretty significant” bone bruise and fluid build-up in his knee, was cleared to do contact work on Friday. However, even if Prather plays, he will likely be on a minutes limit. “I’ll have a better feel for what he can do after practice,” Donovan said, “but he’s cleared to practice and cleared to play in the game.”

He also noted that senior center Patric Young is still battling tendinitis in his knee and has missed some practice time to give his joints a break.

“He’s a veteran guy. He’s an experienced guy. I’m certainly not going to sit him out of an entire practice. He doesn’t have what Will Yeguete has where Will Yeguete legitimately needs a day off from time to time, which we’ll provide to him,” explained Donovan. “But Patric needs to do a good job communicating, where maybe cut down some of his reps in practice. Maybe instead of being out there for every single rep, he’s out there for half the reps. … He’s very, very conscientious in terms of getting treatment, rehab, trying to stay on it. But he’s got to do a better job communicating what he’s feeling, what he’s experiencing at a given time.”

Young has no concerns going forward: “[My knees] feel pretty good. Ready to go.”

Continue Reading » No. 7 Florida at Auburn preview: Prather cleared

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Florida baseball falters, drops series to Auburn

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

With the season is winding down, Florida Gators baseball (28-25, 13-14 SEC) is limping to the finish line rather than charging towards it the way head coach Kevin O’Sullivan had envisioned. UF dropped two of three games to the Auburn Tigers (31-20, 11-16 SEC) in its last home series of the regular season and once again fell below .500 in conference play. Florida has now come up short in six of its last seven Southeastern Conference contests, dropping back-to-back series to LSU and AU.

The Gators struggled to hit consistently all weekend, falling behind early in all three games. In Friday’s series opener, the Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead, notching three runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings. A four-run seventh helped UF get back in the game but ultimately did not change the outcome as AU held on for a 7-4 victory.

Junior right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford (4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) did not have his best stuff in the series opener and Auburn took advantage. O’Sullivan yanked Crawford early, hoping his bullpen could tame the Tigers, but the move did not work.

AU busted the game open, scoring three more runs to extend its lead to 6-0. Florida fought back, but the deficit proved to be too much. Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (2/5, RBI) and freshmen outfielders Harrison Bader (1/4, RBI, R) and Richie Martin (1/4, RBI, BB) knocked runners home in UF’s four-run seventh, but the Tigers kept the Gators off the board in the other eight innings.

Continue Reading » Florida baseball falters, drops series to Auburn

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