Basketball defeats Rutgers, wins Legends Classic

One day after taking down the No. 2 Michigan State Spartans, Florida Gators basketball (6-0) defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-2) to win the 2009 Legends Classic in Atlantic City, NJ. Earning instant credibility and a championship trophy to match, the Gators look to be back in the Top 25 on Monday for the first time since Jan. 19 and are in the conversation as a possible NCAA tournament team.

Freshman guard Kenny Boynton led Florida with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting while redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin added 14 points of his own on 7-of-9 shooting with a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore point guard Erving Walker scored 11 points on .500 shooting from beyond the arc with five assists, but senior forward Dan Werner led the team with six dishes. Macklin’s effort was his most impressive of the season while junior Fs Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons had their least effective games. Both still went 3-6 on their own with six and seven points, respectively.

“Even through fatigue and dealing with the emotion of last night, I thought our guys came out and grinded the game out and found a way to win the game,” Gators head coach Billy Donovan said. Walker concurred. “We knew that we could compete with these teams, but to come out and actually beat them shows us that we could play with anybody in the country and we just want to keep it going,” he said. Walker was also named the tournament MVP partially due to his winning three-pointer against the Spartans.

“We came out and we wanted to show everyone that last night’s game wasn’t a fluke,” Boynton said. “We heard people were saying we were soft. We basically wanted to put pressure on both of these teams early and get the win.” There was nothing soft about either Florida performance over the weekend, as the team continues to use stiffing defense and efficient shooting to defeat its opponents.

Florida basketball takes on the Florida A&M Rattlers on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center as part of a double-header with the women’s teams. The Gators’ following three games will be against the Jacksonville Dolphins, No. 10/9 Syracuse Orange and Richmond Spiders at three neutral sites in the state of Florida.

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Gators take down No. 2/2 Spartans 77-74

Florida Gators basketball (5-0) entered the 2009 Legends Classic looking to make a name for themselves after finishing the past two seasons with invites to the NIT. The Gators accomplished their goal, taking down the No. 2/2 Michigan State Spartans (4-1) 77-74 in Atlantic City, NJ.

Five Florida players scored in double digits as junior forward Chandler Parsons led the team with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Classmate F Alex Tyus and redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin recorded a team-high five boards each while sophomore point guard Erving Walker led the way with seven assists. Walker nailed a long-range go-ahead three-pointer with 1:56 left as the Gators hung on for the win. Florida also went 22-of-25 from the free throw line and combined for a season-high 11 steals in the contest.

The Gators forced 22 turnovers in the game, continuing their defensive dominance that has become a theme throughout the first five games of the 2009 season. The Spartans had multiple chances to tie the game in the waning minutes, including two missed three-point attempts by Durrell Summers in the final minute.

“I’m just so happy these guys could experience a night like tonight against a terrific team,” Gators head coach Billy Donovan said. “I think we found out a lot more about us. We have a chance to really improve and grow from this. The guys in the locker rooms are the ones who really did all the work. At this point, I think that these guys have put the work in. You feel like there’s a commitment and a focus that they’re doing that. I think that was something that was really missing from our team the last two years, really understanding what it was about maturity-wise.” Walker agreed. “We just wanted to prove to people we could be mentioned in the same breath as them,” he said.

Florida advances to the championship game of the Legends Classic and will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday at 8 p.m.

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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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Gators basketball topples Trojans 80-58

Florida Gators basketball (3-0) got back on track Friday night, using a team-high 23 points from freshman guard Kenny Boynton to defeat the Troy Trojans (2-1) 80-50 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. After starting 0-for-5 from the floor and finishing the last game 0-10, sophomore point guard Erving Walker rebounded with 13 points in the second half along with three assists and six rebounds. Boynton also added four assists and six rebounds of his own.

Other double-digit scorers for the Gators included forwards junior Chandler Parsons and senior Dan Werner, who contributed 15 and 12, respectively. Parsons led Florida with seven rebounds while Werner found his touch, going 4-for-5 from three-point range.

Junior F Alex Tyus contributed two blocks and nine points but left the game with a sprained right ankle as time ticked away in the second half. “I am concerned about Tyus’ ankle,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game. “I don’t know where that’s at.”

The Gators remain home for their next game against the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at the O’Connell Center. The game will air live on Sun Sports – check your local listings.

In other news… No. 13/13 Florida volleyball (20-5, 14-4 SEC) dropped a 3-1 heartbreaker (22-25, 25-23, 25-25, 25-22) to the Tennessee Volunteers (21-7, 14-4 SEC) on the road Friday. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy recorded her nation-leading ninth triple-double of the season and the 15th of her career, while sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel contributed her eighth double-double of the year. Tennessee’s Nikki Fowler turned in a match-high 19 kills and was one of four Lady Vols to reach double figures in the victory. The Gators return to action on Sunday against the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, KY. Opening serve is set for 2 p.m.

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FOUR BITS: 3s, weekend games, Spikes, injuries

1 » Florida Gators basketball (2-0) looks to keep on rolling as they take on the Troy Trojans (2-0) Friday at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Shooting a combined 3-for-29 (10.3%) from behind the arc, the Gators are bucking a trend head coach Billy Donovan set upon his arrival to Gainesville, FL. Florida has traditionally been among the best in the Southeastern Conference in three-point shooting percentage as Donovan has made it a priority both in his recruiting and game plans. “I think for guys like Kenny [Boynton] and Erving [Walker], it is probably somewhat uncharacteristic,” Donovan said. “They have been shooting the ball well in practice. Chandler [Parsons] and Dan [Werner] are guys that maybe have been a little more up and down in their careers.”

2 » There’s plenty of other Gators sports action on the docket for the weekend. Men’s and women’s swimming & diving begin their participation in all-day weekend tournaments Friday. Women’s basketball (1-1) faces the No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0) in Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday, and No. 13/13 volleyball (20-4, 14-3 SEC) heads to Knoxville, TN, to serve against the Tennessee Volunteers (20-7, 13-4 SEC) – both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. Volleyball will then travel to Lexington, KY, to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (26-2, 16-1 SEC) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

3 » Senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes has been named as one of the five finalists for the 25th annual Butkus Award honoring the nation’s top linebacker. Other finalists include Rolando McClain of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Sergia Kindle of the Texas Longhorns, Sean Weatherspoon of the Missouri Tigers and Eric Norwood of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

4 » Redshirt juniors running back Emmanuel Moody (sprained ankle) and defensive tackle Terron Sanders (rib/back) have been ruled out for the Florida International Golden Panthers game on Saturday. According to head coach Urban Meyer, senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham is “50-50” for the game with an unspecified injury. This is a good week to rest any banged up players prior to the regular season finale against the Florida State Seminoles next weekend.

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Florida scrapes by then blows out Georgia So.

Though the score may not suggest it, the Florida Gators men’s basketball team (2-0) grinded out a 69-49 victory over the Georgia Southern Eagles (1-2) Wednesday night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Junior forward and sixth man Chandler Parsons led the Gators with great energy off the bench, scoring 15 points and 12 rebounds to record the team’s second double-double of the season.

Freshman guard Kenny Boynton and redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin were the other Florida players who shined offensively, scoring 22 and 15 points, respectively. Boynton shot 50% from the field while Macklin was 7-9 adding seven rebounds to his performance. Through two games, Boynton, Macklin and Parsons have accounted for 63.6% of the Gators’ offense (91 of 143 points). Sophomore point guard Erving Walker led the team with six assists and, though he was 0-10 from the field, added nine points on free throws.

The Eagles kept the Gators in check for much of the contest, going into the half with Florida only holding a 26-25 lead. Up 55-47 with 4:17 remaining, the Gators slowly pulled away to their eventual 20-point margin of victory. For the second straight game, Florida was on the verge of breaking a 579-game record of scoring at least one three-pointer. Parsons nailed one with around six minutes to go, and Boynton followed with the first make of his career from beyond the arc. The Gators are only 3-29 from three-point range on the season, an absurdly low number for a Billy Donovan-coached team.

Florida basketball returns to action Friday when they face the Troy Trojans at home in Gainesville, FL, at 7 p.m. The game is being carried by FOX Sports Florida, so be sure to check your local listings for availability.

Note: Louisville Cardinals head basketball coach Rick Pitino, father of new Gators assistant Richard Pitino, was in the house watching the game with Bill Donovan, Sr.

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Gators open regular season with win over Hatters

Florida Gators men’s basketball (1-0) began the 2009-10 season with a 74-46 win over the Stetson Hatters (0-1) on Sunday afternoon in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Four Gators scored in double digits as junior forward Alex Tyus posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Freshman guard Kenny Boynton, redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin and junior forward Chandler Parsons were the other Florida players who shined offensively, scoring 12, 13 and 12 points, respectively. Macklin recorded a team-high three blocks while sophomore point guard Erving Walker led the team with three assists.

The Gators were in danger of blowing a school record for consecutive games with a three pointer until Parsons nailed one with just 33 seconds left in the game. Before that, Florida had missed 12 straight and shot only 7.7% from behind the arc on the day.

Above all else, Florida played superb defense against the Hatters, holding them to 46 points on a combined 16/56 (28.6%) from the field and 2/17 (11.8%) from three. “I was really pleased with our defense, because I didn’t think we had much of an offensive flow at all,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought our guys kept a pretty good focus in trying to defend all 40 minutes.”

Gators basketball returns to action Wednesday when the Georgia Southern Eagles visit Gainesville, FL, at 7 p.m. The game is being carried by Fox Sports Florida, so be sure to check your local listings for availability.

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2009-10 Florida Gators Basketball Preview

Coming off two consecutive trips to the National Invitational Tournament, the Florida Gators basketball team is looking to return to the glory it experienced just a few short years ago. With guard Nick Calathes leaving to play professional basketball in Greece and an influx of talented players, head coach Billy Donovan hopes to wipe the sour taste the last two seasons have put in fans’ mouths. With that, ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive presents our 2009-10 Florida Gators Basketball Preview.

STARTING FIVE:

PG Erving Walker – sophomore, 5’8”, 171 lbs.
2008 STATS: 10.1 PPG – 2.4 APG – .434 FG% – .419 3P% – 1.5 RPG – 23.1 MPG
A spark plug known more for his shooting and penetrating than passing, Walker was a pleasant surprise for the Gators in 2008. Starting the season as the team’s sixth man, he moved into the starting lineup at year’s end, earning a reputation as a sharp-shooter who could be trusted to put the ball in the hoop when the game was on the line. Walker was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team and led Florida in three-point percentage (.419). His breakout performance came against the Auburn Tigers, when he hit two late three pointers to help send the Gators to a 68-65 win. Walker must improve his ball handling, court vision and willingness to dish the ball in order to allow Boynton to move around and not be forced to play point.

G Kenny Boynton – freshman, 6’2”, 183 lbs.
2008 STATS (HS): 33 PPG – .58 FG%
Boynton is the pride of the Gators’ 2009 recruiting class, a consensus five-star guard who was ranked No. 9 overall on ESPN’s Top-100 list, No. 12 by Rivals and No. 15 by Scout. He is the 12th McDonald’s All-American signed by Donovan and the third-leading scorer in the history of Florida high school basketball. Quick both with and without the ball, Boynton is highly competitive and athletic with the ability to play either backcourt position. He can get his shot off at will, whether it be a quick pull up jumper, deep three-pointer, floater down the lane or penetrating layup. Boynton is also a tough defender who is strong with quick feet laterally. In his two games so far in the Orange and Blue, Boynton has averaged 23.5 points in 25.5 minutes.

The preview is a LOT longer than this. Read the rest after the jump…
Continue Reading » 2009-10 Florida Gators Basketball Preview

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