2015 SEC Tournament: Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide – Now or never

Location: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, Tennessee [Capacity: 19,395]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Brad Nessler, Sean Farnham, Shannon Spake)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app

SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(8) FLORIDA GATORS (9) ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 15-16 (8-10 SEC) Record: 18-13 (8-10 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -4

IT’S NOW OR NEVER FOR THE GATORS

Despite the team’s dismal campaign, Donovan’s worst since his second season at Florida (1997-98) … despite the Gators averaging their fewest points per game (64.0) since 1950-51 … despite UF being so inefficient from the foul line that the term “free throw” has become ironic (.632 is its worst mark since 1951-52) … despite all of that, Florida enters the SEC Tournament on Monday on equal footing with the rest of the league.

It will likely take at least one win – if not two – to give the Gators a chance at earning an NIT berth. It will assuredly require winning the tournament outright for Florida to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth-straight year. And if you ask Donovan, this particular UF squad is as ready as it will ever be for this test.

“Hopefully, they’re excited to play. You’re getting a chance to go somewhere and play at a neutral site. It’s an opportunity to play again. I think our guys, over the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten better as a team,” he said on Tuesday.

“Better” is a relative term when it comes to these Gators. Injuries and suspensions have limited how much Florida has been able to develop as a complete unit this season, but for team with known talent deficiencies (according to Donovan), the Gators’ schedule – one of the toughest in the nation – did not do it any favors either.

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Jim McElwain, Florida Gators assistants to make 13 stops on 2015 spring speaking tour

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain is set to make eight appearances at Florida-based Gator Clubs (plus one in Atlanta) as part of the team’s annual Gator Gathering speaking schedule, with his assistants participating in four more events.

Joining him with speaking engagements are defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, associate head coach and linebackers coach Randy Shannon, offensive line coach Mike Summers and defensive line coach Chris Rumph.

The speaking tour is put on by the UF Alumni Association and Gator Boosters, Inc. in association with the University Athletic Association. Tickets are available to the public and sold to the respective events with proceeds usually going to support the club and fund scholarship opportunities for local area students.

Continue Reading » Jim McElwain, Florida Gators assistants to make 13 stops on 2015 spring speaking tour

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Florida Gators to open 2015 SEC Basketball Tournament vs. Alabama Crimson Tide + Bracket

Eight-seed Florida Gators men’s basketball (15-16, 8-10 SEC) will take on the nine-seed Alabama Crimson Tide (18-13, 8-10 SEC) in the second round of the 2015 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday, March 12 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The contest, set to tip off at 1 p.m. and air live on the SEC Network, will be the second meeting between the programs this season as the Gators previously defeated the Tide 52-50 on Jan. 27 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan is 22-5 against Alabama with victories in 10-straight meetings and wins in 12 of the last 13 showdowns between the teams. Donovan is also 9-0 all-time against Crimson Tide head coach Anthony Grant, a former Gators assistant.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators to open 2015 SEC Basketball Tournament vs. Alabama Crimson Tide + Bracket

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Fastbreak: No. 1 Kentucky pulls away late to rout Florida 67-50 in Lexington

Florida Gators basketball (15-16, 8-10 SEC) gave the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (31-0, 18-0 SEC) a run for their money on Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. But after hanging in for three-quarters of the game, the Gators were eventually run over by the Wildcats 67-50.

UK became the second team in Southeastern Conference history to go 18-0 in league play during the regular season, matching a mark UF set just one year ago. Head coach Billy Donovan‘s team, meanwhile, finished the regular season with a sub-.500 record for the first time since 1996-97.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with nine quick-hitters:

It was over when: Gators freshman point guard Chris Chiozza telegraphed a pass with less than six minutes to play. Aaron Harrison reached out for the steal, broke ahead for the fastbreak and finished with a layup to put the Wildcats on top 57-45 with 5:41 to play. UK ended the contest by outscoring UF 23-9.

Significant stretch: Florida saw its deficit cut to one with 15:58 remaining and again down to three with 10:30 to go, but a trey by Devin Booker started a 7-0 Kentucky spurt that allowed the Wildcats to push their advantage to 10 points with eight minutes left. UK increased its lead to a game-high 12 points and held on for what turned out to be a dominant win in a contest that was close for 30 minutes.

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Kentucky pulls away late to rout Florida 67-50 in Lexington

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Gameday: Florida Gators at No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats – Unique chance for late signature win

Location: Rupp Arena – Lexington, Kentucky [Capacity: 23,000]
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Doug Gottlieb)
Streaming Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app

SiriusXM: 91/83 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS No. 1 KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 15-15 (8-9 SEC) Record: 30-0 (17-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida +16

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Kentucky owns the all-time series against Florida with a 95-37 record over its rival, though the Gators have been more competitive under Donovan with the Wildcats holding just a 25-17 edge.
» UF has not had much success at Rupp Arena with UK going 48-9 all-tie on its home court, 14-4 against Donovan-coached teams.
» Last season, Florida became the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in league play during the regular season; Kentucky is looking to become the second, ending Saturday’s game at 17-0.
» The Gators are 2-11 all-time against No. 1-ranked opponents, 2-0 in the NCAA Tournament and 0-11 against the Wildcats with all 11 of those meetings coming in the regular season. UF has never beaten a No. 1-ranked team in the regular season.

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Florida Gators guard Michael Frazier II expected to be available Saturday at Kentucky

Junior guard Michael Frazier II, the team’s leading scorer who has missed seven-straight games while recovering from a high-ankle sprain, should be available for the Florida Gators on Saturday in their regular-season finale at the Kentucky Wildcats.

Head coach Billy Donovan announced as much during a media availability on Friday, noting that Frazier has yet to go through a full practice but will nevertheless travel to Lexington, Kentucky, with the team and likely be called on to come off the bench.

“I’m going into the game with him being available,” Donovan said, cautioning that he is not expecting either pre-injury minutes or a pre-injury performance from Frazier. “It’s another body in our backcourt and if he does well [in practice Friday], we’ll see if he can do anything [Saturday].”

Continue Reading » Florida Gators guard Michael Frazier II expected to be available Saturday at Kentucky

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Fastbreak: Florida edges Texas A&M 66-62

Florida Gators basketball (15-15, 8-9 SEC) won back-to-back games for the first time in over a month and returned to .500 with a 66-62 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies (20-9, 11-6 SEC) on Tuesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Three days after picking up his 500th career victory, head coach Billy Donovan won his 200th Southeastern Conference game, making him just the third coach ever to reach that milestone in league play.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s action with nine quick-hitters:

It was over when: Five-straight points by redshirt junior guard Eli Carter (two free throws and a three-pointer) put Florida ahead 58-42 with just over three minutes to play and looked to put the game firmly in the Gators’ grasp. Instead, the Aggies began fouling and chipped away at that lead with a 20-7 run, cutting their deficit to three with 6.3 seconds left. UF went 8-for-18 from the charity stripe over the final two minutes.

“I think that, in the second half in particular, has been a real microcosm of our team mentally. We’re not a mentally-strong team,” Donovan said of the free throw shooting issues. “At the end of the game, you can’t just take two point guards off the floor from a ball-handling standpoint. So at some point, those guys got to make free throws. You look at those guys’ free throw percentages, calling it like it is, those guys felt a lot of pressure. They felt a lot of pressure. That’s what’s happened to our team a lot this year is we have these mental lapses.”

Significant stretch: Leading by two, the Gators put their foot on the gas and exploded on a 14-0 run, boosting Florida ahead of Texas A&M 47-31 with eight minutes to play. Redshirt junior forward Alex Murphy scored nine points (including seven-straight and six as part of the run), adding a block and a steal during the extended scoring stretch. “I really felt the last couple days here we’ve had some really good practices, in particular on the defensive end of the floor,” Donovan said. “For us I thought, defensively, all the way around … we did a much better job. I thought we made some strides defensively.”

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida edges Texas A&M 66-62

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Texas A&M Aggies – Super walk-on Jacob Kurtz set to be honored

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU (Rich Hollenberg, Dino Gaudio)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app

SiriusXM: 136/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Billy Kennedy
Record: 14-15 (7-9 SEC) Record: 20-8 (11-5 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -4

SUPER WALK-ON WALKS OFF

The origin story for Florida super redshirt senior walk-on forward Jacob Kurtz is well-known by now.

Once a mild-mannered student at Florida who asked to watch practice inside the Gators’ facility, Kurtz was granted the opportunity to do so by Donovan and quickly became a constant presence around the team. Seeing Kurtz was extremely interested and undoubtedly persistent, Donovan let him begin contributing to the program as a glorified custodian who mopped the floors and took care of the laundry. “The Snake” then slithered his way into a role as an official team manager. Then one day, Florida was short on bodies for a practice, so Donovan asked if Kurtz wanted to run around with the team. That’s when everything changed.

“Then it was like, ‘Wow, this guy is not that bad. Would you like to play?’ ‘Oh yeah, I would love to play,’ [Kurtz replied]. Then he is in practice every day and all of a sudden he is playing and he was very, very cerebral and he was smart and pays attention,” Donovan recalled on Monday.

“I give him a lot of credit for perseverance, patience and resiliency and being really smart and always being ready. He took advantage of his opportunity and was prepared for his opportunity.”

Continue Reading » Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Texas A&M Aggies – Super walk-on Jacob Kurtz set to be honored

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