Post-game comments and Gators’ bubble watch

It should be no surprise that members of the Florida Gators basketball team were depressed and dismayed following their 75-69 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs Friday night in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Below are some comments from the players who are concerned about a berth in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post and Orlando Sentinel.

» Junior forward Chandler Parsons on the loss: “It’s terrible. It’s awful. My first two years, we had a feeling we weren’t going to make (the NCAA Tournament). I think this year we have a much better chance, but it’s completely out of our hands. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed until then. I’m concerned, real concerned, because it’s not in my hands. I can’t control anything, coach (Billy) Donovan can’t, our school can’t. So I think everyone is just concerned and anxious and just hoping.”

» Parsons continued: “It’s a terrible feeling not knowing because it’s not in our hands at all. All we can do is go back to Gainesville and hope and keep our fingers crossed. I think we feel as a team we deserve to be there. We’ve had some good wins.”

» Freshman guard Kenny Boynton on what went wrong: “They wanted it more tonight, it was obvious. Reality kicked in, we tried to come back, but it was too late.”

» Senior F Dan Werner on falling behind: “You can never get by down by that much and expect to come back on a good team.”

» Werner on his miscue (flubbing pass down four with 1:25 left and a clear lane to the hoop to cut the deficit to two): “I saw that there was no one at the basket so I was going to try to run in and get an easy lay-up. When I started running I guess I kind of misjudged the ball. Stuff like that happens.”

» Head coach Billy Donovan on the team’s chances: “I think we’ve played a very, very competitive schedule. We’ve had some really, really good quality wins. If that’s good enough, then so be it. We’ll wait and see what happens on Sunday.”

Florida’s win Thursday against the Auburn Tigers appeared impressive enough to earn them a berth in March Madness, but the Gators must still keep an eye on their competition also on the bubble. While conference tournaments had been kind to UF up to this point, Friday night saw a number of bubble teams find success against top-ranked competition. Below is OGGOA‘s latest bubble watch update:

» Mississippi State (22-10) defeated Florida 75-69
» Dayton (20-12) lost to Xavier 78-73
» Rhode Island (23-8) defeated Saint Louis 63-47
» Georgia Tech (21-11) defeated No. 19 Maryland 69-64 (considered a lock)
» Illinois (19-13) defeated No. 18 Wisconsin 58-54
» Ole Miss (21-10) lost to No. 13 Tennessee 76-65
» San Diego State (24-8) defeated No. 8 New Mexico 72-69 (considered a lock)
» Minnesota (19-12) defeated No. 11 Michigan State 72-67
» Washington (22-9) defeated Stanford 79-64

Additionally, ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has kept Florida at No. 1 on his list of the final five at-large teams to qualify for the tournament after their loss Friday. Lunardi projects that it would take additional wins by Minnesota or Mississippi State or unexpected teams winning their conference tournaments to knock any of his final five (Florida, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Washington, Rhode Island) off the bubble.

Selection Sunday will air March 14 beginning at 6 p.m. on CBS. The NCAA Selection Committee will choose five at-large teams to join the 39 locks and 21 automatic qualifiers already in the tournament. OGGOA will provide full coverage of the event.

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FOUR BITS: Baseball, tennis win; golf leads; track

1 » No. 6/7 Florida Gators baseball (10-2) began its series against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers (5-9) with a 6-0 win Friday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (4-0) tossed a career-high seven innings, striking out five in the outing. Florida notched consecutive shutout victories for the first time since 1995. A five-run second inning was highlighted by back-to-back two-out home runs by freshman catcher Mike Zunino (3-3, two RBI) and senior outfielder Matt den Dekker. Florida has decided to add a game against Army to its schedule on Monday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m.

2 » No. 3 women’s and No. 4 men’s track and field combined for five All-America honors on the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday. The men are in second-place (four points off the lead), while the women are in 14th. Four qualifying marks/times were achieved by the men, including freshman sprinter and sophomore running back Jeff Demps, who achieved a school-record time of 6.56 seconds in the 60-meter dash.

Two more BITS on tennis’ two wins and men’s golf’s lead…after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball, tennis win; golf leads; track

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FOUR BITS: NCAAs, prime time, Lebo, bubble

1 » The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley explained the Florida Gators‘ status as a 2010 NCAA Tournament team as succinctly as possible: “They’re in. I think.” The Gators appear to have clinched an at-large berth in March Madness for the first time in three seasons with their victory Thursday in the first round of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament against the Auburn Tigers. Then again, anything can happen with the Selection Committee. Florida has a chance to remove any doubts tonight against a team they already beat this season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

2 » Though the SEC is delaying the announcement of its entire football schedule due to some conflicts, it was announced Friday that the Gators’ away contest against the defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide on Oct. 2, 2010, will be CBS’ lone prime time game of the season. Each year, CBS picks one conference game to air at 8 p.m., and for 2010 it has decided to choose a rematch of the last two SEC Championship games – a rubber match if you will – between the Gators and Crimson Tide. Then again, the game could very well be less of a rubber match and more of a precursor to the 2010 SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA. Mark your calendars.

3 » While the win Thursday did wonders for Florida, it has likely done just the opposite for Auburn. Tigers head coach Jeff Lebo, who was on the hot seat before the tournament, is likely to get the boot if you believe many of Auburn’s fans and boosters. Gators head coach Billy Donovan has gone out of his way to praise Lebo at every opportunity he has gotten, but the respect of his peers will probably not be enough to save the embattled coach. UPDATE: Just moments after OGGOA posted this, The Birmingham News reported that Lebo will be fired.

4 » Bubble Watch: Illinois (18-13) vs. No. 18 Wisconsin (2:25 p.m.), Rhode Island (22-8) vs. Saint Louis (2:30 p.m.), Mississippi (21-9) vs. No. 13 Tennessee (3:15 p.m.), Dayton (20-11) vs. Xavier [in] (6:30 p.m.), Georgia Tech (20-11) vs. No. 19 Maryland (7 p.m.), Minnesota (19-12) vs. No. 11 Michigan State (8:55 p.m.), San Diego State (23-8) vs. No. 8 New Mexico (9:00 p.m.), Washington (22-9) vs. Stanford (11:30 p.m.)

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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Gators strengthen NCAA bid with win over Tigers

Coming off three consecutive losses, the Florida Gators were looking to strengthen their case for a berth in the 2010 NCAA Tournament Thursday night against the Auburn Tigers in the opening round of the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN.

Junior forward Alex Tyus helped them do just that, scoring a team-high 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting to propel the Gators (21-11, 9-7 SEC) to a 78-69 win over the Tigers (15-17, 6-10 SEC) and a berth in the tournament’s quarterfinals.

Florida, looking to avenge a loss to Auburn in the quarterfinals of the 2009 SEC Tournament, was carried by Tyus, junior F Chandler Parsons and redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin in the first half. The trio combined to go 13-for-19 from the field while scoring 33 of the Gators’ 40 first-half points. Tyus continued his excellent play in the second half and was joined by freshman guard Kenny Boynton, who nailed three consecutive three-pointers and finished with nine points.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s Florida vs. Auburn SEC Tournament game story…
Continue Reading » Gators strengthen NCAA bid with win over Tigers

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2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament Rd. 1 Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Auburn Tigers

Location: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 19,395]
Time: 7:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: SEC Network
Online Video:
Live Updates: OGGOA on Twitter

Florida Gators Auburn Tigers
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jeff Lebo
Record: 20-11, 9-7 SEC Record: 15-16, 6-10 SEC
Division: SEC East Division: SEC West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5.5; O/U 143.5

» Junior forward Chandler Parsons…who has scored in double figures in seven of his last nine games and has two double-doubles in those contests. He has also helped run the point and scored 17 points with six rebounds and four assists in Florida’s first meeting with Auburn.
» Double-digit scoring by Vernon Macklin…the Gators are 13-4 when the redshirt junior transfer center finishes in double figures. Macklin has achieved this mark in five of the last seven games.
» Bench production by freshman F Erik Murphy and sophomore guard Ray Shipman…who combined for 18 points in limited time against No. 3 Kentucky.
» Auburn F Lucas Hargrove…who leads his team with 6.9 rebounds per game while also averaging 12.9 points.
» Tigers’ guards DeWayne Reed and Tay Walker…who combine for 30 of the team’s 75.9 points each game. Walker also shoots 42 percent from downtown.

» Auburn leads the all-time series against Florida 87-69; however, the Gators have won 11 of the last 12 meetings including a 78-70 victory last month in Gainesville.
» The Tigers’ only win in that stretch was a 61-58 win in the 2009 SEC Tournament quarterfinals, which knocked UF out of contention for the NCAA Tournament.
» Florida went 6-0 against the SEC West this season.
» The Gators have won three prior SEC Tournament titles (2005-2007). They won the 2006 title at the site of this year’s tourney and are 5-2 all-time in Bridgestone Arena.
» Though they lost their last two games to the SEC’s top two teams, Florida out-rebounded both opponents and remain 13-4 when out-rebounding the opposition.
» Parsons needs only six points to reach 1,000 for his career.
» The Gators have made a three-pointer in a school-record 609 consecutive games beginning Jan. 11, 1992.
» Florida is 233-40 when forcing more turnovers than its opponents under Donovan.
» The Gators are 241-34 under Donovan when holding opponents to 70 points or less.
» Opponents are shooting just 32.2 percent from three-point range against Florida.
» Auburn is 2-9 away from home this season.
» The Tigers score 4.4 points more than the Gators on average but also give up 9.0 more points per game than Florida.
» Auburn has faced only three ranked opponents all season and have lost those games by an average of 13.7 points.

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FOUR BITS: Softball, tennis dominate; golf, track

1 » Competing in the DeMarini Tournament over the weekend, the No. 3/10 Florida Gators began with a solid 12-3 win over Pacific on Friday. Falling to No. 10/12 Stanford 2-0 later that afternoon, the Gators needed to rebound through the final two games of the tournament in order to come out on top. Florida did just that, earning a 12-0 victory over the Cal State Fullerton Titans (3-16) in five innings on Saturday. Senior outfielder Francesca Enea led the Gators with a 2-3 performance for two home runs (including a grand slam) and five RBI. Sophomore OF Michelle Moultrie also contributed, going 3-3 from the plate with three runs. Junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (11-2) earned the win in four innings of work.

Sunday was the final day of the tournament, and the Gators still had some work to do. Florida began the day with a dominating 14-3 win over the UC Davis Aggies (7-11) while totaling a season-high 16 hits (third-most in school history). Enea went 3-4 and extended her hit streak to 11 games while jacking another grand slam. Her 51 career home runs tie for second on the SEC’s all-time list. Brombacher (12-2) got another win on three innings of work. Later that day, the Gators (16-2) closed out the event with a 13-1 victory over the Loyola Marymount Lions (3-7). Junior shortstop Megan Bush went 3-3 with two home runs, three RBI and three runs as freshman starter Ensley Gammel (3-0) earned the complete game win.

Read about tennis’ dominating victories, golf and track & field after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Softball, tennis dominate; golf, track

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Florida to face Auburn in SEC tourney rematch

In the second round of the 2009 Southeastern Conference Tournament, the Auburn Tigers thrashed the Florida GatorsNCAA Tournament dreams, defeating them 61-58 in Tampa, FL. The Gators may have gotten some retribution against the Tigers with a 78-70 win on Feb. 18 in Gainesville, FL, but their chance for true redemption will come Thursday in Nashville, TN.

Florida (20-10, 9-6 SEC), the No. 4 seed in the East, will take on Auburn (15-16, 6-10 SEC), the No. 5 seed in the West, in game three of the first round of the 2010 SEC Tournament on March 11 at 7:30 p.m. The game will air live on the SEC Network – check your local listings.

The winner of the contest will move on to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs in round two on Fri., March 12 at 7:30 p.m. The Gators will need at least one SEC Tournament victory to have a chance at avoiding the NIT for the first time in three seasons. (Unless, of course, they defeat the No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday).

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FOUR BITS: Top 100, bracketology, SEC loss, track

1 » ESPN college football analyst Joe Schad took some time out to compile a 2010 Top 100 College Football Stars list featuring names you need to know going into next season. Among his 100, Schad listed four Florida Gators: redshirt sophomore quarterback John Brantley (19), freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (54), sophomore cornerback Janoris Jenkins (77) and redshirt sophomore running back Chris Rainey (88). Brantley was his eighth of 29 QBs, Debose was his eighth of 15 WRs, Jenkins was seventh of 10 DBs and Rainey was 19th of 21 RBs.

2 » Also from ESPN, bracketology expert Joe Lunardi has released his latest edition, and Florida remains a part of the projection. Lunardi has the Gators even after a close home loss to the No. 13/19 Vanderbilt Commodores Tuesday. He lists Florida as a No. 11 seed squaring off against the No. 6-seed Baylor Bears in first-round action in Buffalo, NY.

3 » Competing in 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament first-round action Thursday, the No. 7-seed Gators women’s basketball team (14-16) fell 74-61 to the No. 10-seed Auburn Tigers (15-15). Senior guard Steffi Sorensen led the team with 14 points (12 in the first half), while senior forward Sharielle Smith contributed 11 points.

4 » Three members of Florida’s women’s track and field team were awarded end-of-season honors from the SEC Thursday. Head coach Mike Holloway was named Women’s Coach of the Year, senior jumper Shara Proctor won Women’s Field Athlete of the Year and sprinter Lanie Whittaker shared Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year. The ladies won the 2010 SEC Indoor Championship on Feb. 28.

Bubble Watch » Richmond (23-7), which beat the Gators 56-53 on Dec. 19, took down Dayton (19-10) 60-56. Dayton was on bubble and is now considered out of the running.

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