Gators rebound to defeat Eagles 67-48 in D.C.

Wednesday was a rough night for the No. 16/18 Florida Gators as they fell in an upset bid authored by Central Florida. Saturday’s contest in Washington, D.C. was a bit easier for Florida (6-2) as they put together a 67-48 win over the American Eagles (5-3).

Senior forward Chandler Parsons rebounded from the worst performance of his career to score 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, bring down a team-high eight rebounds, dish four assists and grab three steals. Parsons was also 2-for-3 from the free throw line after missing all six of his attempts in the previous game.

Joining Parsons to lead the Gators was junior point guard Erving Walker, who scored a team-high 16 points of 5-of-7 shooting while going 4-for-6 from downtown. Senior F Alex Tyus posted 14 points, and redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin scored 12.

Down 3-7 early in the contest, Florida quickly regained the lead on back-to-back jumpers from Macklin and 10 points by Parsons in a matter of six minutes. Up on American 12-10 with 13:56 remaining in the first half, UF would retain the lead and never look back.

The Gators took a 30-21 lead going into halftime but scored seven straight points out of the break and bumped their margin to a game-high 21 points with 2:33 left in the game.

Though the other four starters combined to go 20-for-31 from the field, sophomore guard Kenny Boynton was held scoreless on a 0-for-9 effort which included six misses from beyond the arc. Boynton contributed by dishing seven assists and holding onto the ball without a single turnover in 32 minutes.

As a team Florida shot 49 percent from the field, 84.6 percent from the charity stripe and 35.3 percent from downtown. They out-rebounded American 27-24, stole nine more balls (10-1) and committed seven fewer turnovers.

UF looks to keep the momentum going when they face Kent State on Thursday in Gainesville, FL. The game will begin at 7 p.m. and air live nationally on ESPN2.

POST-GAME NOTES & QUOTES (After the break…)
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12/1: Donovan shares his post-game thoughts

The No. 16/18 (for now) Florida Gators (5-2) suffered a tough loss Wednesday night, falling 57-54 to the Central Florida Knights (6-0) in Orlando, FL. Though the upset loss is certainly tough for the Gators to stomach, the way they played appeared to make head coach Billy Donovan queasy. He spoke to the media after the game and had plenty to say about his team’s performance at the Amway Center.

EVEN IF FLORIDA WON, THEY LOST

Some teams steal wins and others – like Florida last year – get lucky with some buzzer beaters, but no matter what happened Wednesday in Orlando, Donovan knew that the Gators were not worthy of any positive recognition should the outcome have gone their way. “We didn’t even deserve to be in that position [to tie or win],” he said. “If we would have won the game, it would have been a complete steal. I would have felt bad for Donnie [Jones]. Nevermind how he would have felt, I would have felt awful for him. I would have gave him the win.”

Though Donovan dismissed the notion that he was “irate” after the upset, he did explain that the team’s “issues are bigger than this loss” though they can be corrected with maximum effort. He continued, “The one thing that’s good with our schedule is, when you play games like this and you play Ohio State, you play on the road at Florida State, your issues flour – they get exposed. Every team’s got issues. How you become a good team is how well you deal with your issues inside your team to get better.”

NOT SELFISH BUT CERTAINLY NOT SELFLESS

Donovan treaded carefully after Wednesday’s game to ensure he did not use world “selfish” when describing his team’s performance. However there is no question that word could certainly be used when discussing how Florida played in the contest.

“We have a group of guys – all of our older guys are way, way too wrapped up in their offense,” Donovan said. Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton – you look at their assist-to-turnover ratio last year to this year [and it’s not good].

“You look at, in this game, with the way we were scoring in around the basket, those guys should know just by playing the game [that] the ball needs to go inside. We get wrapped up when we’re not scoring or we’re not getting touches and looks and things like that. We’re not a cohesive team right now, certainly on the offensive end of the floor. The defensive part is easy because they understand if they’re not doing the things they need to do they’re probably going to come out of the game.

“They’re not playing together. They’re not utilizing each other’s individual talents. And the disappointing part is these guys played together last year.”

TEAM LACKS UNDERSTANDING, ISN’T HELPING EACH OTHER

“That’s the part to me that’s a little bit disturbing as a coach,” Donovan said of the team not recognizing that [Vernon] Macklin was on fire and could not be defended. “He got in foul trouble in the first half so he was out with two fouls, but the recognition by your team… I can’t call a play every single time down the floor because there’s transition. When they’re playing they should be seeing the fact that Vernon Macklin is having a big night offensively. The other four guys should be saying, ‘Let’s get Vern the ball.’ But we’re too wrapped up in, ‘I didn’t get a shot now,’ or ‘I missed my last one.’ They’ve got to see those things. Every time I ran a play, I kept running a play at him.

“We don’t have very good chemistry on offense with this group right now at all. And that’s the disappointing part. These are older guys that are less focused on what they can be doing to help the group get better. You always hear the thing: ‘A great player makes everyone else around them better.’ We have a bunch of guys on the floor that make nobody better. We’re less concerned about how to do that; we’re more concerned about, ‘How am I doing.’”

PARSONS FAILS TO DELIVER IN RETURN TO HOMETOWN

With approximately 70 tickets distributed to family and friends and a lot of eyes on him Wednesday, senior forward Chandler Parsons appeared to crack under pressure. Though he helped distribute and rebound the ball, Parsons simply played awful in his 32 minutes on the court, going 1-for-9 from the field (0-for-3 from downtown) for two points and 0-6 from the charity stripe (including an air ball). He played so bad, in fact, that his lack of production stood out even though fellow senior F Alex Tyus went 0-for-5 and was held scoreless in 21 minutes.

“Chandler and Vernon last year, they were really on edge about really trying to compete and do the things they needed to do. Chandler – with the way he’s shooting free throws right now – that looked like he was his sophomore year,” Donovan said. “[He’s] just not in the right frame of mind. I don’t know if we’ll be a great free throw shooting team or not, but Chandler’s certainly better than 0-6.”

A career 61.5 percent free throw shooter, Parsons was making them at a 66.6 percent clip before Wednesday’s game. Struggling more is Macklin, who shot 58.8 percent from the line in 2009-10; he is currently shooting 23.1 percent from the stripe.

QUOTES (After the break…)
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Knights upset No. 16 Gators 57-54 in Orlando

Entering the first-ever Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL, the No. 16/18 Florida Gators were hoping to build momentum after pulling out an impressive defensive victory against Florida State on Sunday. Instead Florida (5-2) played their worst game in recent memory and fell 57-54 to the up-and-coming Central Florida Knights (6-0).

Led by former Gators assistant Donnie Jones, the Knights had UF and head coach Billy Donovan their heels the entire game. Though the contest was never out of reach for Florida, they failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities – specifically three in the last 30 seconds including a costly turnover by Central Florida.

UCF jumped out to a 28-20 lead in the first half and finished the period up four as guard Marcus Jordan – son of NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan – posted nine points to lead his team. UF senior forward Chandler Parsons got off to a rocky start (that would continue the entire game) going only 1-for-5 from the field and 0-for-4 from the free throw line in the first half.

The Gators got back in the swing of things at the start of the second half, tying the score at 34 on a layup from redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and quick jump shot by junior point guard Erving Walker. A 9-2 run exhibited by the Knights took them back up to their game-high eight-point advantage (44-36), but Florida answered with a 10-0 run to re-take the lead 46-44 just minutes later.

UCF went 0-for-13 from the floor during UF’s run, but while the Gators did erase their deficit, they failed to capitalize on the momentum. The game would go back-and-forth from there with Macklin tightening UCF’s lead to 53-52 with under a minute to go.

Florida got its first big opportunity on an inbounds play from Central Florida with 55.4 seconds left. Sophomore G Kenny Boynton stole the ball on a bad pass and Donovan called a timeout to draw up a play with 44.1 seconds remaining. Boynton got the ball out of the break and missed an open jumper, giving it back to the Knights who wound up with Jordan on the line shooting the one-and-one.

The Gators were still faced with a one possession game after Jordan made both free throws, but Walker and Boynton each missed wide open treys and UCF grabbed the second rebound. Two more free throws and a quick layup by Boynton passed before UF put F Keith Clanton on the line for another one-and-one.

Clanton missed his first free throw, but Macklin knocked an easily corralled rebound out of bounds with what would have been four seconds remaining for Florida.

Jordan matched his first half performance for Central Florida, scoring nine more points and finishing the game with 18 on 6-of-11 shooting. Clanton was just as effective for the Knights, going 4-of-8 for 12 points with nine rebounds.

Macklin was truly the only bright spot for the Gators, shooting an impressive 10-for-11 from the field for a game-high 20 points to go along with a team-high eight boards. Walker scored 16 points of 4-of-7 shooting (2-of-4 from downtown), but he also turned the ball over thrice and only dished it twice. Boynton went 4-of-10 for 10 points but was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and missed some clutch shots.

Parsons and fellow senior F Alex Tyus were dreadful for Florida throughout the night. Parsons finished 1-of-9 from the field, 0-for-3 from downtown and 0-for-6 from the line (including an air ball) in front of his hometown crowd. He did, however, grab six boards and hand out five assists. Tyus finished 0-of-5 from the field and was held scoreless only taking down five rebounds in 21 minutes.

Though the Gators shot better than the Knights from the field (42.0-38.2 percent), the team – without Macklin – only made a 28.9 percent of its shots. Florida also out-rebounded Central Florida 37-30, handed out more assists (12-10) and committed less fouls (13-16). However, UF turned the ball over twice as much as UCF (14-7) and was unable to capitalize on the few miscues they did force.

Florida will look to right the ship on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. against American in Washington, D.C. The game will air live on Sun Sports.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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No. 16 Florida Gators vs. Central Florida Knights

Event: Florida Citrus Sports Shootout
Location: Amway Center – Orlando, FL [Capacity: 20,000]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: FSN
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 16 FLORIDA GATORS CENTRAL FLORIDA KNIGHTS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Donnie Jones
Record: 5-1 Record: 5-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Conference USA
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is undefeated in the all-time series against Central Florida 9-0, though the two teams have never squared off in Orlando.
» The Gators are 8-1 against Conference USA opponents under Donovan.
» Donovan is also 5-1 against his former assistants.
» Florida is 77-20 under Donovan in the month of December.
» UF will play UCF in the first collegiate event at the brand new Amway Center; ironically, they also faced Stanford in the first collegiate event at the old Amway Arena.
» Donovan needs just five victories to move into sole possession of third place in SEC history for most wins as an SEC head coach.
» The Gators have out-rebounded five of six opponents thus far and are doing so by +8.2 rebounds per game.
» The Knights are No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage (55.4), No. 9 in assists per game (18.8) and No. 10 in points per game (85.8).

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker…a backcourt duo that has combined to average 27.6 point per game and has accounted for 25 of their team’s 37 three-pointers this season.
» Sophomore forward Erik Murphy…who is really coming on this season after only seeing the court sparingly as a freshman. Murphy has posted double-digit points three times and played important minutes in Florida’s win over Florida State.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior Fs Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus…UF’s three frontcourt starters who are average 16.2 rebounds per game.
» Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin…who has posted a commendable 15-2 assist-to-turnover ratio while running the point in relief of Walker.
» Freshman F Will Yeguete…who has been a spark off the bench for the Gators averaging 5.6 rebounds per game and 3.4 points per game in just 12.6 minutes.
» UCF G Marcus Jordan…who is the son of Michael Jordan and is averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game.
» Knights F Keith Clanton…who averages 16.2 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting 68.4 percent from the field.

INJURIES

» Active: Redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin (knee)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior F Adam Allen (knee)

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11/30: Donovan discusses coaching, expectations

No. 16/18 Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post.

COACHING, COMMON BOND UNITE DONOVAN AND FORMER ASSISTANTS

Though Donovan’s talented former assistants have been successful at Florida and been able to head coaching jobs, more than winning back-to-back National Championships unites him with Central Florida’s Donnie Jones, Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Arkansas’ John Pelphrey.

“Not to get too personal or morbid, but I lost a daughter. Anthony Grant lost a son. John Pelphrey lost a son. They’re all buried out on 43rd [Street] together. All their graves are right there together,” Donovan explained Tuesday. “So there are things that have happened over a 13-14-15-year period for the four of us that, no question, we will be ever interwoven in terms of relationships, things that have happened.”

Even with such a history with his assistants – and friends – Donovan does not see any issue competing with them on the court. “That’s the way it is. We’re all competitive, but there’s a fairness inside of competing,” he said. “Our kids are going to go out there and compete. [Jones is] going to prepare his team; I’m going to prepare my team. It’s not like he and I are half court beating each other up.”

EXPECTATIONS DON’T BOTHER DONOVAN, SHOULDN’T DISTRACT MEYER

Asked how it feels that successful men like himself and head football coach Urban Meyer can fall under such heavy criticsm even though they recently won national titles, Donovan explained that it is a part of the business they have chosen.

“We’re in a society that is kind of a microwave. Everybody wants instant, fast results. I don’t think anything worth building or worth lasting is built like that,” he said. “The one person, to me, that puts it all in perspective is Jeremy Foley. He understands that he’s trying to build a foundation. Whether you talk about IBM or some blue-chip stock company, no one ever stays on the top forever. There are peaks and valleys in our own personal lives. Everything just doesn’t go well all the time. That’s the thing that you realize. It happens. No one’s invincible. No one stays on top forever. The days of John Wooden winning 10-straight championships – that’s not happening anymore. There’s too many early departures, guys don’t stay around long enough.”

Donovan also empathizes with where fans and critics come from when they complain (and are perhaps even ungrateful) about team – and coach – performance. “It’s the passion for the University of Florida. People want to see everything at a very, very high level, and that’s understandable,” he said.

NO WAY YOU’RE GOING TO CALL HIM A “LIAR”

While discussing his decision to toss aside his NBA dream to remain at UF, Donovan was jubilant and jovial in explaining that there is no place he would rather be right now.

“One of the hardest parts in coaching is sometimes you don’t know where you’re going to be or what’s going to happen. I’m happy where I’m at, and if I was fortunate enough to stay here for another 15 years, I would really, really be happy with that,” he said. “I’m in a unique situation that the guy that hired me is still there and it’s still a great relationship.

“Sometimes when a coach comes out and says, ‘I’m never leaving,’ and they leave… ‘Liar!’ ‘Well I’m not sure, I’m going to keep my options open.’ ‘He’s not committed there! He’s thinking about…’ All I can say is I’m really happy here, happy with our team, happy with the administration, the people I work with. I am. I’m excited. And do say that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life here at Florida? Things change. God forbid something happens with Jeremy Foley or there’s a new president or there’s a change in administration or they don’t like the way we play. Things can all change in a very quick period of time in this kind of business.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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No. 14 Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles

Location: Donald L. Tucker Center – Tallahassee, FL [Capacity: 14,000]
Time: 7:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: FSN / Sun Sports
Online Video: None.
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 14 FLORIDA GATORS FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton
Record: 4-1 Record: 5-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida State +4; O/U 137

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Florida State 39-22, but the Seminoles are 4-2 in the last six meetings between the schools. The Gators have been unable to win in Tallahassee recently, dropping their last three contests (2004, 2006, 2008). However, they did win 68-52 last year in Gainesville, FL.
» UF has fared well against the ACC under Donovan, posting a 17-9 record and four straight wins and a buzzer-beater victory over N.C. State.
» The Gators are 65-8 under Donovan in the month of November (41-4 since 2004).
» Sunday’s game is Florida’s first game away from the O’Connell Center this season. It is the first time UF has played a true road game as its first game away from home since facing Jacksonville in 2004.
» Donovan needs just six victories to move into sole possession of third place in SEC history for most wins as an SEC head coach.
» The Gators and Seminoles have different specializations early in the season, splitting four main statistical comparisons. Florida is 46th in the nation in points per game (79.4), 136th in rebounds per game (37.6), 43rd in assists per game (16.0) and 11th in field goal percentage (.505), while Florida State is 21st in the nation in points per game (83.6), 10th in rebounds per game (44.6), 129th in assists per game (14.0) and 28th in field goal percentage (.493). FSU has also allowed fewer points per game (60.4-65.8), is playing better defense (32.7-44.9%) and shoots better from the line (71-67.3%).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker…a backcourt duo that has combined to average 28.6 point per game and has accounted for 21 of their team’s 31 three-pointers this season.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin and senior forwards Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus…Florida’s three frontcourt starters who have combined to average 17.7 rebounds per game.
» Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin…who has posted a commendable 14-2 assist-to-turnover ratio while running the point in relief of Walker.
» Freshman F Will Yeguete…who has been a spark off the bench for the Gators averaging 5.8 rebounds per game and 3.8 points per game in just 10.3 minutes.
» FSU F Chris Singleton…who is the ACC’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and is currently averaging a team-high 17.4 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game and a conference-high 3.6 steals. He recently became the first player in ACC history to score a triple-double including steals with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 steals against UNC-Greensboro.

INJURIES

» Active: Redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin (knee)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior F Adam Allen (knee)

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Gators start slow then fly past Owls 79-66

Head coach Billy Donovan has criticized the No. 14/16 Florida Gators (4-1) for the poor way they have performed in the second half of games since the season began. His message will likely be different Tuesday evening considering Florida struggled out of the gate but pulled away in the latter part of the contest to defeat the Florida Atlantic Owls (3-3) 79-66 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Shooting only 41.4 percent in the first half, Florida took a 34-32 lead in the closing seconds after sophomore guard Kenny Boynton put in a fastbreak layup and freshman center Patric Young contributed a free throw.

Though they out-rebounded Florida Atlantic 22-14 and committed five less fouls in the period, UF allowed FAU to shoot 46.7 percent from the field and provided them with some wide open looks from downtown.

Boynton and senior forward Alex Tyus led the way offensively for the Gators in the first half, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively. Tyus also grabbed five rebounds in the early portion of the contest.

Florida would keep its lead the entire second half, going on a short 8-1 run including a mid-range jumper and layup off a steal by junior point guard Erving Walker to jump ahead 47-39 with 12:08 to play.

Finally pulling way, Florida used a trey from senior F Chandler Parsons to take a game-high 13 point lead with 2:46 remaining. They would go up-and-down the remainder of the game to win by the same margin.

Boynton (21 points) and Tyus (19 points) stayed hot in the second half, and Walker scored 11 of his 14 points in the latter period to go along with six rebounds, four assists and five clutch steals.

Hobbled with a bad knee, redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin got off to a slow start but scored five points and pulled down 11 rebounds while blocking three shots. Freshman F Will Yeguete made the most of his eight minutes off the bench by grabbing six boards and getting to the line three times while injecting some energy into the team.

Parsons was scoreless in the first half with two turnovers but found his legs late in the contest to finish with eight points and six rebounds without giving the ball up again.

Gainesville native G Greg Gantt was dynamite from downtown for the Owls, going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and 6-of-12 from the field for a FAU-high 17 points.

Both teams shot 33.3 percent from three and in the low-40s from the field, but Florida earned the rebounding advantage 44-28 and committed five fewer fouls.

The Gators’ sluggish start was somewhat understandable seeing as Tuesday’s contest was their fourth game in eight days, and their resilience coming out of the locker room at halftime was certainly a sight for Donovan’s sore eyes.

Florida will now get four days of rest before traveling to Tallahassee, FL, on Sunday to face Florida State at 7:30 p.m. The game will air live on Fox Sports Florida.

POST-GAME NOTES & QUOTES (After the break…)
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11/22: Donovan talks about Macklin’s knee, FAU

No. 14/16 Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan likes to talk – and we like to listen – which is why we have compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his latest media availability in the following post.

MACKLIN’s KNEE REMAINS AN ISSUE

Though redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin is feeling “significant pain” in his right knee due to tendinitis, bone spurs and “a lot of grinding” behind his kneecap, he will not require surgery and will continue to practice and play with the Gators this season. However, Donovan did not put to rest a thought of sitting him for a stretch including perhaps some of Florida’s less intense upcoming games.

“It could be discussed,” he said on Monday. “It probably will be discussed. He’ll practice some today and play tomorrow and going forward from there we’ll make a decision of what we need to do. If we’re going to rest him, it won’t be for a couple days. That’s not going to cure the problem. It would help him a lot [to sit out for a week or longer].”

Macklin’s lack of “explosion,” as Donovan put it, explains why he has been showing up in the first half of games but is struggling to get things going after the first buzzer. His knee is warmed up before and during the start of the games but gets achy and more painful as things go on. Nevertheless, surgery is not an option for Macklin at this point if he wishes to continue playing this year.

“The biggest thing with surgery is: Do you get a drastic return when you perform surgery that he’s that much better?” Donovan said. “With what his issues are, there is no guarantee that if he did get surgery, there would be a whole lot of improvement there. Because of the tendinitis and the bone spurs the best thing for him would be rest.”

FLORIDA ATLANTIC WILL TEST FLORIDA’S PERIMETER

If facing new No. 3/3 Ohio State last week served as a wake-up call for Florida, nearly blowing a big lead against Morehead State on Sunday served as a splash of cold water on the face. With the Florida Atlantic Owls coming to town Tuesday, Donovan believes the Gators will be tested in a different way.

“[FAU's] a team that’s deeper than [Morehead State] on the perimeter,” he said. “They’re going to play five guards. They’ve got speed and quickness. They’re going to play more conventionally up front, as opposed to [MSU] playing four guards. They will play with two post players. They’re a little more athletic with more size.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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