Florida Gators reinstate F Dorian Finney-Smith; G Eli Carter (health) questionable

After missing three games while serving a suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules, redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been reinstated by head coach Billy Donovan ahead of Saturday’s game against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Finney-Smith, whose absence has played a role in Florida (13-15, 6-9 SEC) dropping two of its last three contests, is the Gators’ second-leading scorer and top rebounder, averaging 12.9 points and 5.8 boards per game. He’s also the most efficient all-around shooter on the team, hitting 47.5 percent of his field goals and 39.8 percent of his long-range attempts.

“He’s taken care of all his responsibilities and everything we’ve asked him to do,” Donovan said in a statement posted to the school’s website. “I still feel like he needs to understand that when it comes to some of the choices he’s made there are other people affected by it. From my perspective, he’s got to earn back some trust from our team and show a higher level of commitment, especially being an older guy.”

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Gameday: Florida Gators at Missouri Tigers – Billy Donovan goes for win No. 500 with lacking team

Location: Mizzou Arena – Columbia, Missouri [Capacity: 15,061]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Matt Stewart, Darrin Horn)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app

SiriusXM: 119/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS MISSOURI TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kim Anderson
Record: 13-14 (6-8 SEC) Record: 7-20 (1-13 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -7

APPROACHING 500

Likely the last game Florida will be favored in this season, the Gators have a chance to get back in the winning column while providing Donovan with his all-important 500th victory on Tuesday night. Donovan, 49, who will be coaching in his 703rd game, has an opportunity to become the second-youngest coach to 500 wins, only behind the legendary Bobby Knight.

Asked on Monday to look back on his career and achievements – including two national championships and four appearances in the Final Four – Donovan deflected the praise (as usual) and gave a lot of credit to those that have been with him along the way.

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Fastbreak: LSU dismantles Florida, again, 70-63

The Florida Gators were embarrassed by the LSU Tigers on Jan. 20 when LSU ended Florida’s 20-game home winning streak against Southeastern Conference opponents that dated back two years. If Florida was looking for revenge Saturday, it didn’t show that to be the case as the Tigers ran past the Gators 70-63 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

LSU (19-8, 8-6 SEC) swept Florida (13-14, 6-8 SEC) over two regular-season games for the first time since 1991, the last occasion the two SEC rivals squared off in a home-and-home series. The Gators also lost consecutive games to the Tigers for the first time since 2008-09.

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

It was over when: Florida cut its deficit to six with less than seven minutes to play, but LSU immediately responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a three from Jalyn Patterson, to take a 63-47 lead that was simply insurmountable for the Gators.

Significant stretch: The Tigers built on their first half-ending 9-0 run, extending it to a 17-2 stretch to regain their massive lead and eventually jump ahead by a game-high 16 points early in the second half.

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The Fastbreak: Florida edges Vanderbilt 50-47

The Florida Gators avoided losing five-straight games for the first time since 1997-98 by pulling out a hard-fought 50-47 victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida (13-13, 6-7 SEC) played the game short-handed yet still managed to get revenge on Vanderbilt (14-12, 4-9 SEC), which upset the Gators on the road two weeks ago.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Wednesday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Vanderbilt forward James Siakam pieced together a personal 5-0 run – including a spin move dunk and old-school three-point play – to put the visitors on top 45-44 with 1:24 to play. The teams traded buckets, and Florida sophomore point guard Kasey Hill had an opportunity at the line to give his team back the lead but missed both free throws. Following a missed VU attempt from the charity stripe, UF got consecutive offensive possessions after a missed three from freshman forward Devin Robinson was deflected out of bounds. That is when Hill drove into the lane only to find Robinson for a go-ahead dunk. Two free throws from freshman PG Chris Chiozza iced the victory for the home team.

“I was proud. I could see Kasey fighting it. I could just see his body language was not good after the two free throws. I watched him, and I think he tried to gather and regroup himself. And I’m glad he did that; he kept himself in the game,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought our guys competed and battled. It’s just that, you know, offensively it is an absolute struggle – a struggle.”

Significant stretch: Struggling to score and trailing by six, the Gators suddenly retook the lead against the Commodores thanks to an 13-0 run that included a five-point trip. Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter made a basket, missed the and-one opportunity, grabbed the rebound and registered an assist as junior F Alex Murphy drained a three. UF led by a game-high seven points with six minutes to play as VU went scoreless for 6:14 and without a field goal for 8:31.

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Florida Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules

Updated on Thursday at 1 a.m.

The Florida Gators announced just over one hour before tip-off on Wednesday that redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith, the team’s second-leading scorer, has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

Finney-Smith sat out Wednesday night’s contest against the Vanderbilt Commodores and will at least miss one more game on Saturday.

“He’s suspended. I’m not playing him against LSU. I’m going to revisit it again on Monday,” head coach Billy Donovan said after Wednesday’s game.

Finney-Smith, the 2014 SEC Sixth Man of the Year, is not only Florida’s best active scorer but also its leading rebounder, accounting for 12.9 points and 5.8 boards per game. He also shoots a team-high 47.5 percent from the field among starters.

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt ‘Dores – Inconsistency hampering improvement

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 12,989]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Mike Morgan, Barry Booker)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 134/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kevin Stallings
Record: 12-13 (5-7 SEC) Record: 14-11 (4-8 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -5 | O/U 124.5

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The Silver Lining for February 16: Failings of Florida Gators basketball not an easy fix

After a two-week break, The Silver Lining is back to its weekly publishing schedule. This edition is dedicated to taking a closer look at the Florida Gators men’s basketball team, which at 12-13 overall and 5-7 in SEC play is floundering with its leading scorer – junior guard Michael Frazier II (high-ankle sprain) – out for an undetermined amount of time.

It’s simple, really…

To anyone who has watched the Gators this season – whether a fan, journalist, analyst, player or coach – it is quite apparent that Florida is, shall we say, a flawed basketball team. Some may chalk many of the Gators’ ills up to bad luck; UF, after all, is KenPom.com’s least-lucky team in the nation by a wide margin at -.162. But its head coach, Billy Donovan, knows that’s ultimately an easy excuse and one that tries to hide a much bigger problem.

Yes, Florida has certainly had its fair share of bad luck – late-game officiating, last-second baskets made by opponents, Jacob Kurtz’s accidental own goal tip-in at the buzzer against Florida State – but its 2-6 record in games decided by two points or fewer (and 12-13 record overall) are true representations of its play to this point.

As Donovan said after Saturday’s loss, “Life, to me, is always about getting to the truth.” So let’s do just that.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for February 16: Failings of Florida Gators basketball not an easy fix

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Fastbreak: Texas A&M breaks Florida’s heart in final seconds on Valentine’s Day

The Florida Gators lost a game by a single point for the second time in three days as the Texas A&M Aggies, which led for nearly the entire contest, fought off a late surge to pick up a 63-62 win on Saturday night at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.

Florida (12-13, 5-7 SEC) fell below .500 through 25 games for the first time since head coach Billy Donovan‘s intial season with the team in 1996-97 with its defeat at the hands of Texas A&M (17-7, 8-4 SEC), giving the Gators four-straight losses – their first such streak since 2007-08.

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

It was over when: Florida trailed for 37:33 before taking its first lead, using a 6-0 run including a step-back jumper by redshirt junior guard Eli Carter and fastbreak layup tip-in from sophomore center Chris Walker to jump ahead 62-61 with 1:45 to play. A careless turnover by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill – following a big defensive stop – put Texas A&M back on top by one. The Gators touched the ball last, calling a timeout with 5.3 seconds remaining but nevertheless failing to get off a shot, passing the ball twice with redshirt junior forward Alex Murphy attempting a three after the buzzer.

“A&M really had control of the game from start to finish. They were probably a little bit surprised – as most everybody else was – when we went up by one,” said Donovan. “We got a good stop and then we turned the ball over, which we fouled [on the play]. … I thought we had a chance [at the end]. Dorian probably should’ve made a play on that, but he’s very unselfish and it was an unselfish play by him … but there wasn’t enough time to do that. He probably needed to be more selfish in that situation.”

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Texas A&M breaks Florida’s heart in final seconds on Valentine’s Day

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