Fastbreak: Florida embarrassed in second half as No. 11 Kansas battles back to win 71-65

No. 24 Florida Gators basketball (3-4) absolutely collapsed in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, blowing an 18-point lead and falling 71-65 to the No. 11/11 Kansas Jayhawks (6-1) in the 2014 SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

The Gators are now under .500 through seven games for the first time since 1998.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: The biggest scoring stretch of the game – a 23-3 run with 18 points combined by Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden Jr. – included four Florida turnovers and the visitors going 1-for-10 from the field; it lasted 7:53 and gave Kansas a 60-52 lead with 3:21 to play. Overall, the Jayhawks outscored the Gators by 21 points in the second half with UF at one point failing to hit a field goal for 7:37.

Significant stretches: With the Gators leading by a game-high 18 points, the Jayhawks got right back in the contest with a 9-0 run that cut KU’s deficit to single digits with about 14 minutes left in the game. It allowed Kansas to hang in long enough to end the game with its incredible scoring stretch as Florida melted down at Allen Fieldhouse.

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida embarrassed in second half as No. 11 Kansas battles back to win 71-65

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Gameday: No. 24 Florida Gators at #11 Kansas Jayhawks – Donovan talks team, previews KU


Event: 2014 SEC-Big 12 Challenge
Location: Allen Fieldhouse – Lawrence, Kansas [Capacity: 16,300]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Jon Sciambi, Dick Vitale, Holly Rowe)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network Affiliates

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 24 FLORIDA GATORS No. 11 KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bill Self
Record: 3-3 Record: 5-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12

Odds: Florida +8 | O/U 125

Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 24 Florida Gators at #11 Kansas Jayhawks – Donovan talks team, previews KU

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12/10: Florida vs. Kansas post-game report

The No. 19 Florida Gators (7-2) held on for hard-fought 67-61 victory over the No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL in the final game of the Big 12-SEC Challenge despite facing heavy resistance from the visitors in the second half. Head coach Billy Donovan met with the media following the game to discuss Florida’s most notable victory of the young season.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 2-1 against Kansas under Donovan, though the Jayhawks still lead 3-2 in the all-time series against the Gators.
» UF improved to 5-4 against top 25-ranked opponents dating back to last season with all five wins coming inside the O’Dome.
» Florida has now won 22-straight non-conference games in the House of Horrors and 21 consecutive home games overall, the second-longest streak in school history.
» The Gators are now 61-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is already 3-2 in single-digit decisions this season after going 0-6 in contests decided by fewer than 10 points in 2012-13. Six of UF’s eight losses last year were by six points or less, a constant black mark on the campaign.
» Tuesday night’s game was sold out with a listed attendance of 12,423.
» Despite the Gators’ thrilling victory, the SEC had already lost the Big 12-SEC Challenge before the game even started. The Big 12 held a 6-2 advantage heading into Tuesday’s contest and now leads 6-3. Oklahoma and Texas A&M will play the final game of the challenge on Saturday, Dec. 21.
» According to The Gainesville Sun, UF and KU may have a return showdown next season in Lawrence, KS.
» About two dozen scouts were in attendance at the game.

DYNAMIC DUO

The Gators played their best half of the season in the first 20 minutes of Tuesday’s game, and it just so happened to be the first time that both of their point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill were able to play in the same rotation and on the court simultaneously.

Wilbekin posted a career-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 36 minutes but what he did elsewhere was even more impressive. He played lock down defense at times, much of it in the frontcourt (more on that below) while dishing six dimes and picking up four steals. It was quite a turnaround from his lackluster performance in the second half at UConn, a game in which he shot 6-of-14 and committed three costly turnovers.

“He always plays really hard. He gives me great effort all the time,” explained Donovan. “I didn’t think he played very well at UConn. He really, really struggled, had some turnovers late when we had a seven or eight-point lead, made some poor decisions, missed some shots. I thought he struggled in that game. I think having a week off and maybe missing a couple days and having three days to get ready for this game, I think he was eager to play well and knew that maybe the UConn game was a game that we had every opportunity to win and maybe it slipped away there a little bit from us at the end. I think, for him, he was pretty focused on wanting to come back and play better [Tuesday].”

Continue Reading » 12/10: Florida vs. Kansas post-game report

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Fastbreak: Florida holds on to top Kansas 67-61

The No. 19 Florida Gators (7-2) scored their most prominent win of the young season on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, holding on for a hard-fought 67-61 victory over the No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) in the final game of the 2013 Big-12 SEC Challenge.

OnlyGators.com breaks down the Gators’ seventh win with The Fastbreak.

It was over when: Kansas committed its 24th turnover of the game with 45.3 seconds remaining, giving Florida the ball back with a six-point lead. Senior forward Casey Prather got fouled on the ensuing offensive possession, headed to the line and hit two free throws to put UF up eight with 37.1 seconds left. Though KU cut its deficit to four points, Prather hit 10-of-12 free throws in the second half to propel his team to victory. He scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight boards.

Prominent player: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was a firecracker for the Gators all night, playing superb basketball in the first half and seemingly finding a way to put the ball in the basket every time the Jayhawks threatened in the latter 20 minutes. He handled the rock like a dream and played terrific defense, too, finishing with a team-highs of six assists, four steals and, oh yeah, 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Standout stat: Florida dominated all phases of the game in the first half, leading by 18 at one point and taking a 15-point advantage into the break. The Gators accomplished this by outrebounding their opponents 11-4 on the offensive glass. Florida also forced Kansas to commit 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, matching a season-high the visitors had registered in an entire game. KU fought back in the second half by “only” coughing it up eight times and grabbing four more offensive rebounds than UF.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida holds on to top Kansas 67-61

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Gameday: No. 19 Florida Gators vs. No. 13 Kansas

Event: Big 12/SEC Challenge
Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(19) FLORIDA GATORS (13) KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bill Self
Record: 6-2 Record: 6-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3 | O/U 138

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Buzzer beatings: Florida and Kansas each got handed tough losses in their last games as the Gators and Jayhawks both fell on buzzer beaters in a six-day span. UConn topped UF 65-64 on Monday, while Colorado beat KU 75-72.
» The Jayhawks are 3-1 in their all-time series against the Gators, but Florida is 1-1 against Kansas under Donovan.
» UF is 4-4 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all four losses coming away from its home court.
» Florida has won 21-straight non-conference games in the O’Dome and 20 consecutive home games overall, the second-longest streak in school history.
» One-third of the Gators’ 2013-14 schedule thus far has been against top 25-ranked opponents. The Jayhawks are the third such team UF has faced this season.
» Florida is 60-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF’s defense has started off allowing just 60.0 points per game through eight contests, making it the stingiest in the SEC; no opponent has scored more than 69.
» The Gators have already used five different starting lineups through eight games. Only two players – seniors forward Casey Prather and center Patric Young – have started every contest thus far.
» Donovan is looking for his 16th consecutive 20-win season. Florida has him ranked sixth all-time in that category behind only Dean Smith, Lute Olson, Mike Krzyzewski, Tubby Smith and Jim Boeheim.
» Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts was on Donovan’s staff during the 2011-12 season that resulted in the team advancing to the Elite Eight.

Read the rest of the Florida-Kansas gameday preview…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 19 Florida Gators vs. No. 13 Kansas

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12/9: Donovan on PGs, Walker, Harris, Kansas

No. 19 Florida Gators (6-2) head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Monday, one day before his team hosts the No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks (6-2) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL as part of the Big 12-SEC Challenge. Florida and Kansas will square off on Tuesday at 7 p.m. live on ESPN.

POINT GUARDS WILL PLAY

As was reported by OnlyGators.com last week and confirmed by the Gators on Saturday, senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (ankle) has been cleared to play against the Jayhawks. Donovan said on Monday that the player has been “fine” and practicing the last few days without incident. Even though Wilbekin was initially “diagnosed” with a high-ankle sprain, Donovan admitted that the player could have practiced the next day but was held out as a precaution.

Freshman point guard Kasey Hill, who OnlyGators.com also reported would probably see some action as a reserve in his first game back from a high-ankle sprain, has also been cleared by play. Donovan went a bit more in-depth about Hill’s status.

“It’s really hard for me to say how much he will play, will not play. [Sunday] was the first day he’s done some things as it relates to contact. There is some tentativeness there. He’s not in great pain. I think he’s still probably recovering,” he said. “This is the first time he’ll be out there. We’ve been doing individual workouts and those kinds of things with him. For what his role would be in [Tuesday’s] game would be too hard to say, but I would say he’ll be available to be put into the game. …

“There’s really no limitations on Kasey’s playing time from the doctors … but because he’s been out and he’s been out of practice so long – that’s been nearly three weeks right now – I just don’t know what I’m going to get for him. We’ll give him an opportunity. He’ll have another day of practice under his belt. Hopefully he’ll get back to feeling a little bit more comfortable. He feels pretty good right now, and as long as that continues, we’ll use him as we need him.”

COMING SOON: CHRIS WALKER

As OnlyGators.com, citing two sources, reported on Dec. 4, five-star incoming freshman forward Chris Walker has completed his academic requirements and is scheduled to join the Florida basketball program for the first time on Saturday. A third source confirmed Monday that Walker has been told to report to the team Saturday.

Donovan confirmed OnlyGators.com‘s report that Walker’s academic coursework is complete and he is simply awaiting clearance from both by the University of Florida and the NCAA Clearinghouse.

“He’s got to go through an admissions process like any other student here for the second semester,” he said. “Now it’s kind of our of our hands and we’re just waiting to hear back of what the ruling will be in terms of him being a qualifier, being able to start school.”

OnlyGators.com learned last week that Donovan has already been told Walker will be academically cleared and able to practice, hence Saturday being set as his reporting date. Donovan admitted as much, correctly noting that Walker cannot join the team until final exams end for the fall 2013 semester. The last exams will be distributed on Friday.

Continue Reading » 12/9: Donovan on PGs, Walker, Harris, Kansas

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SIX BITS: gymnastics, Floyd, Kansas, Parsons

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics did not conclude its incredible weekend on Saturday after it won the 2013 NCAA Championship, the first NCAA title in program history. Instead, Florida was right back at it on Sunday as its gymnasts competed in individual events with the hopes of bringing additional championships back to Gainesville, FL. Freshman Bridget Sloan, who captured the 2013 NCAA Championship in the all-around on Friday, doubled up with a title in the balance beam (9.900) on Sunday. She actually would have won three individual championships had it not been for junior teammate Alaina Johnson, who edged Sloan 9.9125 to 9.900 in the uneven parallel bars to win a title of her own.

2 » Florida’s national championship-winning gymnastics team will be honored at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center during a special celebration on Monday at 7 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m. and access to the event is free. The celebration will be the first held inside the O’Dome for a Gators championship-winning program since basketball won its second of back-to-back titles in 2007. GatorVision.tv will have a live stream of the event for fans outside of Gainesville. OGGOA will tweet a link at 7 p.m.

The Florida school website on Monday posted a terrific feature on head coach Rhonda Faehn, who has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the program in 2002. Though the national title had been elusive for Faehn, she knew that the Gators could be one of the top programs in the country when she took the job. “It was a gold mine just waiting for success,” she told senior writer Scott Carter about Florida. “I felt there was so much potential. Who wouldn’t want to go there? It was undiscovered almost and people needed to see how amazing it was. That’s what I felt for years when I was coaching at other places, that Florida was just incredible.” Added athletic director Jeremy Foley about Fahen: “She built our program. When we hired her, the goal was we wanted to be like Alabama, we wanted to be like Georgia, we wanted to be like Utah, we didn’t understand why we couldn’t be like them. We wanted to be a factor. Look at what she has done. I feel great for her, her staff, and obviously these kids.”

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: gymnastics, Floyd, Kansas, Parsons

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Wildcats outwork Gators for upset in Kansas City

A double-digit underdog without a top-25 victory yet this season, the Kansas State Wildcats (9-3) outworked the No. 8/9 Florida Gators (8-2) on both ends of the court on Saturday night as they pulled off an impressive 67-61 upset victory in a neutral site game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.

Kansas State completed its first non-conference win against a top-10 team since 1981 by dominating Florida on the boards (36-27) and holding the visitors to a paltry 26.3 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Wildcats also got plenty of help from their bench as reserves scored 21 of their 67 points. Though the Gators dominated paint scoring by posting 32 points including 19 from junior center Patric Young, KSU played solid post defense throughout the night and had C Jordan Henriquez finish with five blocks on the evening.

Young was 8-of-11 with 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season and was one of two UF players (junior forward Casey Prather) to foul out.

Tied at 14 with 10:51 remaining in the first half, Kansas State took it to Florida on both ends of the court. The Wildcats outscored the Gators 16-4 heading into halftime and jumped out to a 33-23 lead at the break.

Florida only connected on one field goal over the final 8:50 of the period, and the 33 points given up in the first half was the most UF has allowed so far this season.

It only took a few minutes for the Gators to get right back in the game. Florida opened up the second half on a 12-3 run to get within one of Kansas State and knotted the contest at 41 with 13:21 to play on a big three-pointer by senior guard Kenny Boynton.

The Wildcats did not waste time regaining their lead, putting together an 11-2 scoring stretch to retake a 10-point lead with five minutes left in the game. The Gators cut their deficit to five points on two free throws by Young with 2:14 left but were unable to pull closer than that as KSU held on for the big upset.

Kansas State guards Will Spradling and Rodney McGruder combined for 30 points and 12 rebounds. Each went 4-for-12 for the field but combined to make 11-of-14 free throws. KSU took 14 more attempts from the charity stripe than UF.

Boynton and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin each added 11 points for Florida. Boynton’s cold streak continued as he went 4-for-11 from the field and 1-for-5 from downtown. He is 13-of-51 on field goals and 4-of-32 on threes over the last five games.

The Gators have now lost at least two non-conference games every year since 2006-07 and will likely fall out of the top 15 when the new top-25 polls are released on Monday.

Florida will play one more game before 2012 ends as it travels to Sunrise, FL to take on Air Force in the 2012 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic next Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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