TWO BITS: Four more SEC titles, women fall to UK

Opening BIT » Congratulations to forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks for a career-high 31 points in his 200th NBA game on Wednesday! “In the fourth quarter, I looked up at the scoreboard and I was pretty excited about it,” Horford said. “Obviously, I’m more concerned about winning. But when you’re able to do something like that individually, it always feels good.”

1 » Coming through with two titles, one Southeastern Conference record and one school record on the first day of competition, Florida Gators swimming and diving completed its second of four days of competition in the 2010 SEC Championships by taking home three more individual conference titles as well as a relay title. Junior Conor Dwyer and seniors Shaune Fraser and Gemma Spofforth all won individual SEC Championships, while the Gators women’s 200 free relay team defended its title. Florida now has six SEC titles in the first two days of the meet. The Gators men’s and women’s teams each led their respective fields going into Thursday’s events; however, both fell to second by the time the day was over. UF also achieved numerous NCAA qualifying times throughout the day. Day three of the SEC Championships begins Friday at 10 a.m. from the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia.
Men: Auburn (291 points), Florida (282), Georgia (205)
Women: Georgia (300 points), Florida (266), Auburn (248)

2 » While the men’s team bounced back with a win Thursday against Auburn after suffering consecutive losses, Florida women’s basketball (13-13, 6-7 SEC) fell to their third-straight ranked opponent on the road against the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (22-4, 10-3 SEC) in the Memorial Coliseum. A three-pointer by senior guard Lonnika Thompson with 9:04 remaining in the game brought the Gators within two points of the Wildcats (47-45), but Florida would allow Kentucky to outscore them 30-6 in the remaining time to pull off a 77-51 victory. Dooming the Gators were 23 turnovers and poor defense – the Wildcats shot 66.7 percent from the floor. Florida will try to bounce back against another ranked opponent, the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs, who they host in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sun., Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2.

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TWO BITS: SEC titles for swimming, softball wins

1 » Florida Gators swimming and diving completed its first of four days of competition in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championships by taking home two SEC titles, one SEC record, one school record and two NCAA automatic-qualifying marks. The Gators, who are tied for first place in both the men’s and women’s team competitions through the first day, hope to build on their already outstanding performances. Senior diver Kara Salamone earned UF’s first diving title since 2001 on the one-meter springboard, while the men’s 800-yard free relay team brought home the second title of the evening with a 6:15.91 time – the fastest in the country this season. Composed of freshman Sebastien Rousseau, junior Conor Dwyer and senior/junior brothers Shaune and Brett Fraser, the men’s team also set the SEC and Florida records with their NCAA automatic-qualifying mark. Day two of the SEC Championships begins Thursday at 10 a.m. from the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia.

2 » Also victorious Wednesday was the No. 3/5 Gators softball team (4-1), who took down the Jacksonville Dolphins (4-1) 6-1 in its home opener at Katie Pressly Seashole Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (4-1) earned the win on a two-hit, nine-strikeout performance which began with her striking out the side in the first inning. Offensively, junior catcher Tiffany DeFelice powered Florida with two home runs and three RBI while going 3-for-3 from behind the plate.

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FOUR BITS: Baseball, volleyball, gym, swimming

1 » The Florida Gators baseball team will be participating in its first team practice and scrimmage at 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29 at McKethan Stadium. The event, which is open to the public, is just a precursor to the team’s regular season opener on Feb. 19 at 6:30 p.m. against the South Florida Bulls. Other baseball events including autograph signings and a “Meet the Team” will occur before the Gators’ first game, so stay tuned. Baseball is currently ranked No. 9 in a preseason poll conducted by Collegiate Baseball.

2 » Florida was named one of four regional host sites for the 2010 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championships in an announcement from the NCAA Tuesday. This is the 11th time in school history and the fourth time in the last six years that the University of Florida has been selected to host regional action. The Gainesville, FL, regional will take place in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Dec. 9-10, 2011.

3 » Ashanée Dickerson has been named the Southeastern Conference Freshman Gymnast of the Week for the second-straight week. Scoring her third consecutive all-around title against the then-No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats on Jan. 22, Dickerson is the first Gators gymnast to open a season with three straight all-around titles since 1988. She leads the team with six event titles in 2010. Dickerson and the rest of the No. 4 Florida gymnastics team will face the No. 13 LSU Tigers on Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Fourth Annual Gators Link to Pink event to raise awareness for breast cancer.

4 » Gators sophomore Teresa Crippen and junior Conor Dwyer received National Collegiate Swimmer of the Week honors Tuesday. Both Crippen and Dwyer had outstanding performances in Florida’s dual meet against the Auburn Tigers on Jan. 22.

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FOUR BITS: Gators take home four wins Friday

1 » After losing its opening match, the No. 4 Florida Gators gymnastics team (2-1, 2-0 SEC) won its second straight contest of the season Friday. Florida traveled to face the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats (3-2, 1-2 SEC) in Lexington, KY, and took home a 196.05-195.35 victory at Memorial Coliseum. Freshman sensation Ashanée Dickerson won her third-straight all-around competition with a total of 39.25. Overall, the Gators finished the day with at least a share of four of five event titles. Florida continues its streak of facing ranked SEC opponents when it hosts the No. 16 LSU Tigers on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. for the fourth annual Gators Link to Pink meet in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Learn about three more big Gators victories, injury updates on a football and basketball player and David Lee’s season-high night after the jump…
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Gators take home four wins Friday

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Florida begins rivalry week up 2-0 on FSU

Florida Gators swimming & diving got the first crack at the Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, topping them 169-131 while being led by seniors Shaune Fraser and Omar Pinzon and junior Conor Dwyer. Basketball’s victory just a few hours later in the same building was more of a beat down, as junior forward Alex Tyus and his teammates routed their rivals 68-52.

Tyus, with a solid 13-point and eight-rebound performance, led the Gators (4-0) to their first win over the Seminoles (3-1) in the last four meetings. Matching Tyus with 13 points were freshman guard Kenny Boynton and sophomore point guard Erving Walker, both of whom were able to contribute in spite of poor shooting performances. Junior F Chandler Parsons followed Tyus’ team-high eight rebounds with seven of his own, also adding three assists, two steals and eight points to the box score. Senior F Dan Werner was on the court a team-high 33 minutes, going 2-for-2 from beyond the arc (his only two shots) to finish with six points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Florida dominated the first half, perhaps their best performance in over a year, pressuring Florida State on defense, standing strong in the paint and hitting the boards hard. The Seminoles turned the ball over 16 times in the first 20 minutes, trailing 39-19 going into the locker rooms. Started the second half on a 19-2 run, they quickly brought the Gators lead down to four. It was not until a charge drawn by Werner roused the crowd and sparked the resurgence of the defense that Florida would overcome the attack, scoring 12 straight points to go back up 55-38. The Gators would maintain a double-digit lead through the rest of the game.

Florida takes on the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans on Friday at 8 p.m. in Atlantic City, NJ, as part of the Legends Classic. The game will air on Sun Sports and marks the highest ranked opponent the Gators have faced since the 2006-07 season. The Gators will look for the three-match sweep of the Seminoles when the football team takes them on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in The Swamp.

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