Florida-Dayton post-game – Final-ly Four: Gators exorcise Elite Eight demon on way to North Texas

Advancing to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and first time since 2007, the (1) Florida Gators (36-2) pulled off a 62-52 victory over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) in the Elite Eight round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and some of his players met with the media to discuss the historic win.

POST-GAME CELEBRATION, NET CUTTING

DEMON, EXORCISED

Donovan and his players could not say it enough on Friday: Florida’s three-straight Elite Eight losses had nothing at all to do with Saturday’s game. Yet while the Gators’ roster is different, their chemistry is improved and they are currently in the midst of the most impressive single season in school history, it would have been a blemish had UF not overcome this obstacle.

Elite Eight demon, you have been exorcised.

“I’m not so sure that these four seniors, having gone through the experience in the previous Elite Eights, could have made the next step that they made,” Donovan said. “There were things we went through the last three years that enabled those guys to learn a lot to take the next step that they did this year.”

He continued: “They’re better players today by going through what they went through. If it would have been easier on them, I don’t think they’d be quite as good. I think the struggle they’ve had to go through has forced them to have perseverance, resiliency, mental and physical toughness to be able to battle and fight. More than anything else, as a coach, the thing you love about that is hopefully they can take those qualities to the next step in their life, because when they start a new career in their life, they’re going to go through some of that themselves.”

Continue Reading » Florida-Dayton post-game – Final-ly Four: Gators exorcise Elite Eight demon on way to North Texas

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Pictures, tweets, videos: Florida Gators former and current celebrate advancing to Final Four

Support for the (1) Florida Gators (36-2) has been strong throughout the season and especially the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

It continued on Saturday after the team advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and first time since 2007 with a 62-52 Elite Eight win over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN.

Check out the pictures, tweets and videos below for a comprehensive look at what former and current Gators had to say before, during and after the game. OnlyGators.com has also added a few other choice contributions that fit in with the overall theme.

Continue Reading » Pictures, tweets, videos: Florida Gators former and current celebrate advancing to Final Four

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Fastbreak: (1) Florida Gators advance to Final Four with 62-52 win over (11) Dayton in Elite Eight

The (1) Florida Gators (36-2) advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 2007 with a 62-52 victory Saturday evening over the (11) Dayton Flyers (26-11) in the Elite Eight of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN.

After three-straight losses in this round over the last three seasons, Florida advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and extended their winning streak to a school-record 30 games with victories in 35 of its last 36 contests. The Gators’ 36 wins also set a school record for most in a single season.

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with nine quick-hitters:

It was over when: The buzzer sounded. A tremendous effort from Dayton took Florida to the limit despite the fact that the Gators never led by fewer than eight points in the second half. The Flyers kept the game close by hitting 8-of-18 three pointers and taking the ball to the hoop in the second half when UF shut down UD from beyond the arc.

Prominent players: Seniors point guard Scottie Wilbekin and center Patric Young each had phenomenal games for the Gators. Wilbekin finished just 6-for-14 but hit 3-of-5 threes and 8-of-10 free throws on his way to a game-high and career-high-tying 23 points. Young was equally as dominant, scoring 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, hitting 2-of-3 attempts from the charity stripe and grabbing six boards, four blocks and two steals.

Significant stretch: A couple minutes after seeing its lead cut to eight points following back-to-back three-pointers for Dayton in the first 51 seconds of the second half, Florida went off on a 13-4 scoring stretch to increase its advantage to a game-high 17 points with 11:27 left to play. UF never lost a double-digit lead over the duration of the contest.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: (1) Florida Gators advance to Final Four with 62-52 win over (11) Dayton in Elite Eight

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Gameday – 2014 NCAA Tournament – Memphis, TN: (1) Florida Gators vs. (11) Dayton Flyers

Location: FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN [Capacity: 18,119]
Time: 6:09 p.m. EDT

TV: TBS (Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: [Westwood One]
Online Video: March Madness Live | Mobile Video: March Madness Live app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

See the Game in Person: Elite Eight Tickets

(1) FLORIDA GATORS (11) DAYTON FLYERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Archie Miller
Record: 35-2 Record: 26-10
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic 10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -10 | O/U: 133

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Florida is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history, holding a 9-0 record overall with that seed winning the national title the previous time it held the ranking entering the tournament (2007).
» The Gators won the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title for the second-straight year and third time in the last four seasons. UF then went on to win the 2014 SEC Tournament Championship for the first time since 2007.
» The Flyers earned the right to play in the Elite Eight by defeating (10) Stanford 82-72 in the Sweet 16 on Thursday.
» Florida has played 57 games in 19 NCAA Tournament appearances, holding a 41-16 all-time in the event. The Gators have played 45 of those 57 games under Donovan, going 34-11 in those contests over 15 NCAA Tournaments.
» UF is 4-4 in Elite Eight games all-time, 3-4 under Donovan with three-straight losses. The Gators, which are making their fourth consecutive appearance in the Elite Eight, have not advanced to the Final Four since 2007.
» Florida and Dayton have never met. The Gators are 12-9 all-time against current members of the Atlantic 10 and 2-0 against common opponents Ole Miss and Richmond this season. The Flyers defeated the Rebels went 1-1 against the Spiders.
» UF enters Saturday’s fifth-round game on a program-record 29-game winning streak with victories in 34 of its last 35 games.
» The Gators are 85-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 15-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. Florida is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators are 8-0 in neutral-site games this season.
» Florida is 24-5 playing as the top team in the country.
» The Gators won 30+ games prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and can set a school record for most wins in a season by advancing to the Final Four with a victory on Saturday.

Continue Reading » Gameday – 2014 NCAA Tournament – Memphis, TN: (1) Florida Gators vs. (11) Dayton Flyers

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Florida-UCLA post-game: Scottie too hottie, bench bonanza, Frazier sets Gators threes record

The (1) Florida Gators (35-2) pulled away late in the second half to take down the (4) UCLA Bruins (28-9) with a 79-68 victory in the Sweet 16 of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and some players met with the media to discuss the win.

SCOTTIE TOO HOTTIE

It would be unfair and inaccurate to say senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin is the main reason the Gators won but there is no question that his late-game heroics shut the door on the Bruins and were a catalyst that sent Florida to its fourth Elite Eight in as many seasons.

Starting 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from beyond the arc, Wilbekin hit his last three shots (one three), scored six-straight points and somehow finished with 13 points, the second-most posted by a UF player on Thursday.

“I just tried to keep attacking, stay aggressive and take what they gave me,” he said. “My shots weren’t falling in the first half, even in the beginning of the second half. So, I just tried to stay the course and keep playing my game.”

Wilbekin’s three makes were not only clutch, each was impressive. First, despite being way off from downtown most of the night, he drained a pull-up three to push Florida ahead by eight. On the very next possession, he took the ball to the rack and was fouled on the way, converting an old-fashioned three-point play that gave the Gators a game-high 11-point lead.

Continue Reading » Florida-UCLA post-game: Scottie too hottie, bench bonanza, Frazier sets Gators threes record

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SIX BITS: top 25, tennis, Muschamp, PIT, Tebow

1 » Despite ending their 2013 NCAA Tournament run in the Elite Eight for the third-straight year, Florida Gators basketball was placed at No. 9 in the final USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 poll of the 2012-13 season. Florida was not the only Elite Eight team to fall outside the top eight of the poll, however, as Marquette checked in at No. 11 in the final rankings. Indiana (Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse) and Kansas (Sweet 16 loss to Michigan) took the two other spots in the top eight. The Gators also checked in at No. 9 and No. 10 in 2011-12 and 2010-11, respectively, after losing in the Elite Eight. Florida will likely enter the 2013-14 campaign ranked in the preseason top-10.

2 » No. 2 Gators women’s tennis (17-2, 10-1 SEC) ran through its competition over the weekend, extending their winning streaks to 10 consecutive team matches and 30-straight individual matches. Florida swept the Ole Miss Rebels (10-10, 4-6 SEC) and Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-12, 1-10 SEC) in a pair of home showdowns over the weekend at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL. The Gators won all 11 matches and had the opportunity to celebrate Senior Day against the Bulldogs on Sunday. Seniors No. 1 Lauren Embree and No. 125 Caroline Hitimana were each unable to finish their singles matches due to Florida registering a quick 4-0 victory but both won their doubles contests. The No. 20 duo of Embree and junior Sofie Oyen picked up an 8-2 win, while Hitimana and junior Alex Cercone won 8-0.

On Monday, head coach Roland Thornqvist praised Embree at his press conference, making note of her incredible career and tremendous work ethic. “You want to know why Lauren Embree is the best college player to ever play the game?” he asked rhetorically. “It was Monday morning at 8:30, and after a weekend full of matches and practices, she runs to the courts, hits serves for 30 minutes, then I show up and we go at it [on the court] for an hour and 15 minutes. By 10:00, she’s done with two workouts already while the rest of tennis America is still sleeping. That’s why we’re good and that’s why she’s good. She sets the tone, the bar is high, and I think everybody feeds off of it. We’ve just been blessed to have that for four years. Frankly, it’s just amazing.” The Gators women’s tennis program is hoping to win its third-straight national title.

Read four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: top 25, tennis, Muschamp, PIT, Tebow

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3/31: Florida vs. Michigan post-game report

The three-seed Florida Gators (29-8) collapsed in their most important game of the season on Sunday as they got routed 79-59 by the four-seed Michigan Wolverines (30-7) in the Elite Eight of the 2013 NCAA Tournament at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and a number of his players met with the media to discuss what transpired in their failed Final Four bid.

OPENING STATEMENT

“They capitalized on our turnovers. I thought we dug ourselves a hole very early in the game. … I think in the first half we missed 11 shots within three feet of the basket. They got off to a hot start and us not being able to manufacture enough points I thought really, really dug us a hole. I thought we got the ball where we wanted to go. … But I thought our guys – to start the second half came out – we battled, we fought, but we hurt ourselves with the way we played. … I just didn’t think that we did enough things there on both ends of the floor. I thought our defense in the second half was a little bit more characteristic of the way we’ve played this year. I thought our offense in a lot of ways, because we had some very, very, I thought, good quality looks deflated us around the basket. Especially against a team that’s not a great shot blocking team.”

THIRD TIME IS NOT A CHARM

Florida became the first team in NCAA Tournament history (since the field expanded to 64 teams) to lose three-straight times in the Elite Eight. Yet while the Gators did drop the game, they did not even have the opportunity to choke it away like the previous two years because UF never led at any point in the game. In fact, once Michigan opened the contest on a 13-0 run, Florida never trailed by fewer than 11 points over the duration of the contest. It is for that reason why Donovan was not emotional after the game.

“This is a totally different feel than the last two. The last two to me we gave ourselves every opportunity to win,” he explained.

“The Butler game was an overtime game, the Louisville game was a two point game. This one we didn’t play well enough or deserve to win the game. Michigan deserved this game. They played better than us. They performed better. They did things that were necessary to beat us. The other two games I was heartbroken for our team because we were really, really close. We weren’t that close here [Sunday].”

Asked how, as a coach, it felt to lose in three-straight Elite Eights and not advance to the Final Four, Donovan brushed off those concerns. “Well, it’s not really about me. I’ve been fortunate enough to be there as a player and several times as a coach,” he said. “I feel more upset for [Kenny] Boynton, [Mike] Rosario and [Erik] Murphy, [guys] who don’t get a chance and have come so close. I’ve experienced the Final Four enough. I want our program to continue to experience it and our players.”

To their credit, the players also took the loss relatively well all things considering. Boynton kept his chin up about the situation, expressing his regrets but also his appreciation for what his teammates and coach have done for him.

Continue Reading » 3/31: Florida vs. Michigan post-game report

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(4) Wolverines overwhelm (3) Gators 79-59 as Florida drops third-straight Elite Eight

The third time was certainly not a charm for the three-seed Florida Gators, which trailed from wire-to-wire and watched the more athletic and determined four-seed Michigan Wolverines dominate their Elite Eight showdown on Sunday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.

Florida (29-8), which became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to lose in the Elite Eight in three-straight seasons since the field expanded to 64 teams, was taken down 79-59 by Michigan (30-7), which moved on to its first Final Four since 1994.

The Gators put together one of their worst offensive performances of the season, entering Sunday’s game with a game plan that simply did not work against a longer and stronger Wolverines team. UF also played lackluster defense most of the contest, allowing its opponent to do basically whatever it wanted in both halves.

In fact, two of Florida’s starters – senior forward Erik Murphy and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin – combined to go 1-for-17 from the field and 0-for-2 from downtown with seven combined turnovers. The Gators simply never had a chance to blow its third-straight second-half lead in the round because they never had a lead to begin with.

Continue Reading » (4) Wolverines overwhelm (3) Gators 79-59 as Florida drops third-straight Elite Eight

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