Fastbreak: No. 10 Florida beats Arkansas in OT

It took five extra minutes on Saturday afternoon, but the No. 10 Florida Gators (13-2, 2-0 SEC) fought back from a seven-point second-half deficit to force overtime and pull off an 84-82 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (11-4, 0-2 SEC) on the road at the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, AR.

Florida snapped Arkansas’ 25-game home winning streak while pulling off its seventh-straight victory and 12th in the last 13 contests. OnlyGators.com breaks it all down:

It was over when: Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin drained two free throws with six seconds remaining, extending UF’s lead to five – just enough to ward off a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the Razorbacks that would have tied the game.

Perfect play: A missed free throw at the end of regulation gave Florida new life. His team trailing by two with 17.1 seconds remaining, Wilbekin dribbled out the clock before driving the lane and pulling up, draining a prayer that tied the game at 66 with 2.0 seconds left and sent the contest into overtime.

Prominent players: Redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith put together the best game of his career on Saturday, hitting 7-of-14 shots for a career-high 22 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to boot. He also picked up three assists and three steals. The double-double was Finney-Smith’s second of the season and came at the most opportune time possible for UF. Wilbekin was also huge for the Gators, matching a career-high with 18 points while hitting 8-of-10 free throws on the afternoon. He scored Florida’s last six points – all at the line – on eight attempts.

Guard Rashad Madden did everything he could to help Arkansas win at home, going 9-for-16 (5-for-10 from three) for a game- and career-high 23 points with five boards.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 10 Florida beats Arkansas in OT

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Arkansas shocks No. 2 Florida with 80-69 upset

A pair of 10-game winning streaks were on the line on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, AR, but it was the unranked Arkansas Razorbacks (14-9, 5-4 SEC) that kept theirs alive and strong with a shocking and dominating 80-69 upset of the No. 2/2 Florida Gators (18-3, 8-1 SEC) at Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas won its 11th consecutive game at home dating back to Dec. 4, 2012 while ending Florida’s 10-game winning streak, its longest since the 2008-09 season. The Gators, which had beaten their first eight Southeastern Conference opponents by an average of 26.5 points, were shook early and outplayed for the duration of the contest.

The Razorbacks, which strung together runs of 12-2 and 10-0 early in the contest, found themselves up 23 points with 7:18 remaining in the first half by starting the game 14-of-18 from the field and 7-of-9 from downtown.

Arkansas eventually cooled off and allowed Florida to cut its lead down to 15 points with 1:44 left on the back of a quick 10-2 run.

Opening the second half up 17, the Hogs continued their dominance over the Gators by forcing three turnovers and scoring six-straight points to increase their advantage back to 23 points. Florida answered with an 11-2 – run including five-straight from redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario – to cut its deficit to 14 points with 15 minutes remaining.

Looking to put away their visitors, the Razorbacks responded by forcing six more turnovers and outscoring the Gators 16-3 to take a game-high 27-point lead that also marked UF’s largest deficit of the season.

Florida refused to be put away, however, and used an 11-2 scoring stretch to find itself down 13 points with 3:52 to play. The home team was able to maintain for the duration of the contest and pull out the impressive victory.

Tuesday marked the fifth time in school history that Arkansas beat a ranked Florida team at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks also scored more points against UF (80) than any other team since Dec. 29, 2011 (Rutgers).

Rosario led all scorers with 15 points. Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin added 14 for the Gators but was just 5-of-15 from the field. Junior center Patric Young, who scored nine points, fouled out late in the game and junior forward Will Yeguete sat for most of the contest after his right knee tendinitis flared up early in the first half.

Guard B.J. Young came off the bench to lead Arkansas with 13 points.

UF committed 16 turnovers in the game and shot 41.1 percent from the field.

Florida will look to get the bad taste from Tuesday’s contest out of its mouth when it hosts Mississippi State on Saturday at 5 p.m. in a game that will air live on FOX Sports Network. The Gators defeated the Bulldogs 82-47 in Starkville, MS on Jan. 26.

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Florida-Arkansas, defense, Boynton, Gators notes

No. 2/2 FLORIDA GATORS ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mike Anderson
Record: 18-2 (8-0 SEC) Record: 13-8 (4-4 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Bud Walton Arena – Fayetteville, AR [Capacity: 19,200]
Time: 7:05 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: Florida -11.5 | O/U 140

QUICK TURNAROUND IN A TOUGH ENVIRONMENT

Donovan is known as being no fan of the three-day turnaround during SEC play but that is exactly what the Gators and Razorbacks both have leading into their game on Tuesday evening. “It’s always different when you have a quick turnaround like this,” he said. “You just have to deal with that. We’ve got two legitimate days to prepare, as does Arkansas. … So, we’re both dealing with the same thing with the Saturday-Tuesday.”

While the prep time may be the same for both squads, nothing else will be equal on Tuesday. UF is looking like one of the best teams in the country and heads into Fayetteville on a 10-game winning streak, it’s longest since the middle of the 2008-09 season. The hosts, while not necessarily having a great season, have been playing fantastic at home. The Razorbacks have won 10-straight in the friendly confines (4-0 in SEC play) with an average margin of victory of 17.6 points in those contests.

“The biggest thing you look at is the field goal percentage, the offensive numbers are different. I think that’s not abnormal. Most teams shoot the ball at home better than they do on the road but those numbers are drastically different,” Donovan said Monday. “Winning on the road is really hard. It’s really hard to do. There’s probably a comfort level and a confidence level for those guys, playing in Fayetteville. It’s a unique and really a great environment, which I’m sure they enjoy very much. I think most teams feel a little bit different when they play at home.”

Florida is also in the middle of a a scheduling oddity with Arkansas and will be playing in Bud Walton Arena for three-straight seasons despite only seeing the Razorbacks in Gainesville, FL once (Feb. 23, 2013).

“With the expansion, the scheduling has gotten a little different. Last year, we played them because we had 16 [games] in the league. This year, we’re in a home-and-home with them and we’ll play them twice. Next year, we have to go back to Arkansas. We’re going to play in Fayetteville three times in relation to them coming here once [in three years],” Donovan explained. “Because of the off-set schedule, that’s a little bit unique and a little bit different. I think Bud Walton is a great place to play. They have great fans, good enthusiasm and a good environment. I’m sure there will be a great crowd in there. Our guys have gone into that building, they know what to expect. They know how it is in there and [Arkansas] plays very, very well at home as the stats and records show. They are exceptionally a very good home team.”

Continue Reading » Florida-Arkansas, defense, Boynton, Gators notes

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Walker, No. 12 Gators outclass Razorbacks 98-68

The Arkansas Razorbacks were undefeated at home heading into Saturday game, a showdown with the No. 12/14 Florida Gators at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, AR. Florida (21-6, 9-3 SEC) put an end to that 17-game winning streak by demolishing Arkansas (17-10, 5-7 SEC) 98-68 and put a major dent in their NCAA Tournament chances behind a career-best performance from senior point guard Erving Walker,

Walker led the Gators on Saturday with a career-high 31 points on 9-of-12 shooting (5-for-6 from downtown, 8-for-8 from the line) and game-high five assists.

UF utilized exceptional shooting and efficient offensive rhythm by the entire team to silence a raucous crowd that had previously helped the Razorbacks defeat a pair of top-20 opponents this season.

Florida held an early 8-7 advantage before exploding on a 19-4 run (and 25-6 scoring stretch) that included three-pointers on four-straight possessions and vaulted them ahead of Arkansas 33-13 with 8:47 to play in the first half.

Walker started the game 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and led the Gators to a hot 9-of-14 start from downtown. His fourth trey doubled up the Razorbacks, and UF continued their first half onslaught to jump ahead by 26 points at the break.

Florida began the second half by taking a 28-point lead on a three by freshman G Bradley Beal with 17 minutes to play. At one point, the Gators had hit nine-straight treys and 20 consecutive field goals over a 16:05 stretch spanning the half. Florida started 11-for-16 from beyond the arc and 21-of-31 from the floor with 12 assists.

The Gators found themselves ahead 30 points in the second half and took a game-high 32-point lead on Walker’s final trey of the game with 1:36 remaining.

Florida as a team shot 58.3 percent (28-of-48) from the field, 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from beyond the arc and 85.3 percent (29-of-34) from the charity stripe. The Gators had 14 assists on 28 baskets and outrebounded the Razorbacks 39-21.

Joining Walker with an impressive performance was junior G Kenny Boynton, who scored 25 points, hitting 10-of-11 free throws and grabbing five rebounds while dishing three dimes. Beal posted 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting with nine boards and three assists, and junior forward Erik Murphy chipped in 13 points while going 3-of-5 from downtown with four boards.

Returning from a concussion that forced him to miss Florida’s game on Tuesday, sophomore F Will Yeguete recorded a game-high 12 rebounds.

Since starting the season 0-4 on the road, the Gators have gone 4-1 away from home over their last five games. Florida will return to Gainesville, FL to host Auburn on Tuesday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

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Walker leads Gators past Razorbacks, women lose

Sophomore point guard Erving Walker turned in a career-high 27 points to lead the Florida Gators (13-5, 2-2 SEC) over the Arkansas Razorbacks (8-10, 1-2 SEC) 71-66 on the road at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, AR. Walker began the game by hitting his first five shots (four from downtown) and finished 7-of-12 (5-of-6) on the night.

Junior forward Alex Tyus started 0-for-5 but finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the eighth double-double of his career. Tyus hit the boards hard in the second half, as did fellow junior F Chandler Parsons who left with 11 rebounds but only six points on 1-of-8 shooting after initially going 0-for-7. Razorbacks’ guard Courtney Fortson completed a double-double of his own with 14 points and 11 assists, while G Rotnei Clarke led Arkansas with 17 points shooting 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

The Gators started the game 2-of-12 from the field and 0-for-3 from downtown until Walker made a three to tie it up at 11. He finished the half with 15 points while the rest of the team was only 4-of-25 from the field and 0-for-6 from three for 11 total points. Walker continued his dominance in the second half with an opening trey, a shot that gave him Florida’s last 10 points on both sides of the break.

A 10-2 run by the Razorbacks would tie the game, and a three-point play by Fortson gave Arkansas the lead back for the first time in the second half. Clarke would go on to score 11-straight points for the Razorbacks including a three that put Arkansas back up 56-55 with 6:40 remaining. However, the Gators countered with a 9-0 run, would eventually take a game-high nine-point lead and were able to hold on from there.

Freshman G Kenny Boynton contributed 13 points but was only 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Senior F Dan Werner and freshman F Erik Murphy were a combined 0-for-7 from the field; Werner was ineffective throughout the contest while Murphy was tentative in the paint and missed a number of easy layups and put-backs.

Florida was able to out-rebound Arkansas 42-29. The Gators only shot 35.5 percent from the field compared to 44.2 percent by the home team, but made 21-of-26 free throws against Arkansas’ 12-of-17 from the charity stripe.

The Gators return home to face the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.
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The Florida women’s basketball team (10-9, 3-3 SEC) lost 82-58 on the road in Tuscaloosa, AL, to the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-10, 1-5 SEC) at the Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide were previously winless in conference play before absolutely throttling the Gators Thursday night. Florida’s 24-point loss was their worst this season. Tierney Jenkins led Alabama with a double-double on 28 points and 12 rebounds while Celiscia Farmer and Ericka Russell added 19 and 18 points, respectively. Senior forward Sharielle Smith was the Gators’ most productive player with nine points and nine rebounds.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Parsons’ buzzer-beater drops N.C. State in OT

Down two with 2.6 seconds left on the clock in overtime and N.C. State Wolfpack guard Farnold Degand on the line ready to shoot his second free throw, the Florida Gators‘ hopes of winning a big out-of-conference game on the road looked dashed. Instead, Degand missed his shot, Florida junior forward Chandler Parsons grabbed the rebound, took two dribbles and threw up a 75-foot buzzer-beating, game-winning three-pointer to give the Gators (11-3) a much-needed 62-61 overtime victory in Raleigh, NC, at the RBC Center.

“It feels like a fantasy,” Parsons said while trying to gain perspective shortly after the game. “I’m waiting for someone to pinch me to wake me up. I’d by lying to you if I said I thought it was going to go in. It was pure luck. But I’m happy I was able to help my team and I was happy we were able to get out of here with the win. North Carolina State is a good team and they are going to have a great season. To be able to pull this out in front of their fans, with that crowd, it’s huge for us.”

One of Florida’s most consistent players this season, Parsons’ remarkable trey was his first made field goal of the game. The entire Gators squad struggled from beyond the arc yet again, shooting a combined 2-of-23 from three before Parsons’ final attempt. UF missed its first 13 three-point attempts and even rimmed out another that would have won the game in regulation.

Florida was within three numerous times at the end of overtime, but N.C. State (10-4) head coach Sidney Lowe directed his team to foul sophomore point guard Erving Walker before he could hoist up a three, limiting his ability to tie the game or take the lead. The Wolfpack missed four free throws in the final 38 seconds of overtime, allowing the Gators to stay in the game even with their poor shooting down the stretch.

Redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin led Florida with 14 points while Walker posted 13 of his own. Junior forward Alex Tyus added 11 points in the contest, his fifth-straight game with double-figure points. Tyus also led the Gators with seven rebounds, while Parsons and freshman guard Kenny Boynton each contributed six boards. For N.C. State, star F Tracy Smith scored 21 points and G Javier Gonzalez added 13 of his own, eight of which were in overtime.

Florida hopes to continue their lucky streak when they open Southeastern Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 9 at noon in Nashville, TN, against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game will air live on ESPN.

Women’s basketball (8-6) also took home a road win Sunday, toppling the Alabama Crimson Tide 59-53 in both teams’ conference opener. Senior G Lonnika Thompson and sophomore C Azania Stewart led the Gators with 12 points each.

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