Fastbreak: Gators falter late, again, as UConn tops Florida 63-59 in Gainesville

Florida Gators basketball (7-6) once again collapsed in the second half despite holding a double-digit lead, falling 63-59 to the UConn Huskies (7-5) on Saturday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Without a single signature non-conference win, the Gators are suddenly in serious danger of missing the 2015 NCAA Tournament as they enter Southeastern Conference play on Wednesday in need of a major turnaround.

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

It was over when: Trailing 57-56 with 39 seconds remaining, Florida redshirt sophomore forward Alex Murphy missed back-to-back free throws, and UConn extended its advantage with two free throws by guard Ryan Boatright. On the ensuing possession, Gators sophomore center Chris Walker went to the charity stripe to cut his team’s deficit but missed both of his attempts as well with the Huskies holding on from there.

Significant stretch: Florida opened the second half on a 7-0 run, extending its lead to a game-high 13 points. It would not last long, however, as UConn outscored its hosts 23-9 over an extended stretch, using a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 54-53 with 5:36 to play. UF led for 31:59 in the contest but never re-took the lead once it slipped away.

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Florida G Brandone Francis cleared to practice

While most Florida Gators basketball players joined the team in the summer to train ahead of the 2014-15 season, freshman guard Brandone Francis was notably absent due to academic issues. He was eventually cleared to enroll at Florida, which he did on Aug. 24, but his grades did not meet the requirements needed for the NCAA to allow him to play college basketball with the Gators this season.

Head coach Billy Donovan noted this fall that Francis was doing well with his grades and could potentially be cleared to practice with Florida for the spring semester. That is exactly what happened on Friday when the Gators announced that Francis has passed through the NCAA Clearninghouse and is eligible to join the team for practice and other activities.

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Fastbreak: Florida upends Wake Forest 63-50

By Jordan McPherson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators basketball (7-4) won its fourth-straight game by taking down the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-6) on Saturday at the BB&T Center in the second game of the 2014 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida.

UF led by nine at halftime with poor shooting from both sides keeping the game close throughout, but the Gators finished strong with a 17-5 run on their way to a 63-50 victory.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with 11 quick-hitters:

It was over when: After seeing the team struggle to score for most of the game, redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith hit a much-needed three-pointer and junior guard Michael Frazier II finished at the rim on back-to-back possessions to give Florida a 10-point lead with 3:37 left in the contest.

Significant stretch: Trailing 10-7 just six minutes into the game, the Gators went on a 15-0 run over 3:40 to jump ahead 22-10 with 10:12 remaining in the first half. UF hit 5-of-6 shots and all three of its attempts from beyond the arc during the run, taking a lead that it would hold for the remainder of the game.

Prominent player: For the second-straight game, Finney-Smith led the Gators in scoring, racking up 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting. He also paced Florida by hauling in six of the team’s 28 rebounds.

Dynamic debut: Redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy, a transfer from Duke and the younger brother of former Gators F Erik Murphy, also made waves in his Florida debut. After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, Murphy scored nine points on 2-of-4 shooting with a 5-for-6 mark from the charity stripe. He also recorded four assists as well as a pair of blocks and steals in 27 minutes.

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Fastbreak: Florida routs Jacksonville 79-34

Florida Gators basketball (6-4) won its third-straight game by running roughshod over the Jacksonville Dolphins (2-9) on Sunday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

UF only held a 10-point lead at the half but routed JU in the latter 20 minutes, using a 28-4 half-spanning scoring stretch to run the Dolphins out of the building as the Gators picked up an impressive 79-34 victory at home.

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

It was over when / significant stretch: The Gators opened the second half just as hot as they closed the first, erupting on a 22-4 run (28-4 spanning the half) with a pair of threes from junior guard Michael Frazier plus one each from redshirt juniors forward Dorian Finney-Smith and G Eli Carter to double-up the visiting Dolphins with a 56-28 lead. Florida never looked back, using a game-ending 15-0 run (including another Frazier trey) to extend its advantage to a game-high 45 points.

Prominent players: Finney-Smith was dominant on Sunday, posting a career-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting (5-of-7 from beyond the arc). He also added six boards and two dimes to his line. Nearly equalling his teammate’s effectiveness was Frazier, who went 8-for-14 from the field and 6-for-11 from long range to finish with 22 points and six rebounds. The duo combined for 59.4 percent of the team’s scoring and 84.6 percent of its makes from downtown.

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Fastbreak: Florida drops Texas Southern 75-50

Florida Gators basketball (5-4) broke .500 with a wire-to-wire 75-50 victory over the Texas Southern Tigers (1-7) on Friday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

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

It was over when / significant stretch: Following an 8-0 run by Texas Southern that cut Florida’s lead to 13 with 13:18 remaining, Gators redshirt junior guard Eli Carter banged in a three to kick off an 8-0 response that put UF back ahead by 19 midway through the second half. Florida cruised from there, at one point extending its advantage to 25 points with three minutes to play. Carter only played 14 minutes but finished 2-for-3 with six points and two rebounds.

Prominent players: Freshman forward Devin Robinson appears to be putting things together after being a black hole and air-ball gifter through the first seven games of his young career. Robinson scored a career-high 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, hitting 2-of-3 threes and all three of his free throws. He also added four boards but committed four fouls as well. Sophomore F Chris Walker also shined for Florida, notching 12 points and a career-high four blocks in 16 minutes.

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Donovan: Gators are ‘not heavy lifters right now’

Florida Gators basketball (3-4) is below .500 through seven games for the first time since 1998 and hopes to avoid hitting the even mark at home when it hosts the Yale Bulldogs (8-2) on Monday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Head coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Sunday to discuss his remaining concerns about the Florida basketball team and update the Gators’ injuries.

NOT HEAVY LIFTERS

When the moment gets too big, when the game gets too close, Florida has – for the most part – crumbled during the early portion of this season. That’s the only way to describe the Gators giving up an 18-point, second-half lead on the road against the Jayhawks with Kansas using an incredible 23-3 run to retake the lead at home and hold on for the victory.

Donovan believes Florida’s biggest issue remains the players’ inexperience. Yes, the Gators have some veterans on the roster in redshirt senior center Jon Horford, redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith and junior guard Michael Frazier II (plus redshirt junior G Eli Carter, who remains out with a foot injury), but none of those players has ever been counted on to play starters’ minutes on a consistent basis with all the pressure squarely on their shoulders.

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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.

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Battle 4 Atlantis Gameday: No. 18 Florida Gators vs. No. 5 UNC Tar Heels – Donovan talks offense

Location: Imperial Arena – Paradise Island, Bahamas [Capacity: 3,500]
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

TV: AXS TV (Kenny Rice, Seth Davis, Tom Walsh)
Channels: AT&T U-verse (1106), Cox (199), DirecTV (340), Dish Network (167), Verizon FiOS (569) [Other: Channel Finder]
Streaming Video: None | Mobile Video: None

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network Affiliates / Online

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 18 FLORIDA GATORS No. 5 UNC TAR HEELS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Roy Williams
Record: 3-2 Record: 4-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast

Odds: Florida +5.5 | O/U 132

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