Gameday: No. 15 Florida Gators vs. Florida State

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2 (Mike Crispino, Len Elmore)
SiriusXM: 108/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(13/15) FLORIDA GATORS FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton
Record: 5-1 Record: 5-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -8 | O/U 138

PRE-GAME READING MATERIAL

» Story: PG Scottie Wilbekin stepped up on Monday – in more ways than one
» Notebook: Updates on Florida’s injuries, Harris’s suspension and UF-FSU scheduling

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida has won four-straight against Florida State and lead the all-time series 42-22 (including 11-6 under Donovan). UF is 20-6 against FSU at home (6-1 under Donovan).
» The Gators have won 19-straight games at home in the O’Dome and 20 in a row against non-conference opponents.
» Should UF defeat FSU on Saturday, its senior class (2010) would be just the second in school history to never lose to its in-state rivals (2009).
» Florida is 4-3 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all three losses coming away from its home court.
» The Gators are 59-8 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 0-7 dating back to last season in games decided by single digits.
» UF’s defense has started off allowing just 59.3 points per game through five contests, making it the stingiest in the SEC. Five-straight opponents have failed to reach 61 points against the Gators.
» Donovan is looking for his 16th consecutive 20-win season. Florida has him ranked sixth all-time in that category behind only Dean Smith, Lute Olson, Mike Krzyzewski, Tubby Smith and Jim Boeheim.
» Senior forward Casey Prather is just the third player under Donovan to score 27 or more points three times in a single season (Teddy Dupay, Nick Calahtes) and has already done so just six games into the 2013-14 campaign.

Read the rest of the Florida-Florida State gameday preview…after the break!
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Donovan updates Florida’s injuries, explains Harris’s absense, talks FSU rivalry

No. 13/15 Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan met with the media this week ahead of his team’s showdown with the Florida State Seminoles on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Gainesville, FL at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will air on ESPN2.

INJURY UPDATES

Still dealing with its fair share of ailments, Florida basketball has two players out of action for the forseeable future. The most recent injury was suffered on Monday by sophomore guard/forward DeVon Walker, who sprained his foot early in the first half of UF’s win over Middle Tennessee State. He had started every game thus far for the Gators.

“It’s day-to-day right now. X-rays came back negative, no break. It’s not even a sprained ankle. It’s a mid-foot sprain,” Donovan explained on Wednesday. “He tweaked his ligament kind of down on the bottom or the side of his foot, so he’s just doing treatment day to day and he’s not even going to practice today. He may practice [Thursday] so I’m not really sure where he’s at.

“It could take 10 days. It could take a couple of days. A lot depends on how he responds. I think the biggest thing is just making sure it wasn’t a break or a tear and they’ve eliminated all those things so that’s a positive sign.”

Florida is also waiting to see when freshman point guard Kasey Hill will be able to return from his high-ankle sprain, which was originally supposed to keep him out a month. Donovan said Hill is making “positive progress” but would not update his timetable.

“He’s not going to be available for the game against FSU. So you know, I really don’t keep a whole lot of pulse on that,” he said. “Once I find out what the injury is, the trainer’s dealing with him and kind of gives me updates. He is progressing, he is getting better, he is improving. But he’s not remotely close to getting back to the court yet.”

It is starting to sound more and more like Hill will beat his original four-week timetable (no surprise). Expect to see him back potentially as soon as UF’s home game against Kansas on Dec. 10.

Continue Reading » Donovan updates Florida’s injuries, explains Harris’s absense, talks FSU rivalry

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Friday Final: Bittersweet finale for Florida seniors

Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s season finale against the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles, which is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, and air live on ESPN.

Below are some stories, notes and quotes that either broke towards the end of the week or fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the five posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links below).

Monday: Changes ahead for offensive staff | Will Muschamp talks coaching changes, fixing the Gators and more injuries
Tuesday: Brent Pease asked 17 questions about job status, future at Florida
Wednesday: Snell’s Slant: Beat Florida State? It can happen. | Muschamp provides updates on injuries, thoughts about Pease

FINAL GOODBYES FOR GATORS SENIORS

Fifteen Gators football players are guaranteed to step onto Florida Field for the last time as student-athletes on Saturday as they will have used up their eligibility as either true seniors or fifth-year seniors. Below is what many of them had to say about their careers, final home game and last time wearing a Florida uniform.

» Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins: “It’s going to be very emotional for all of us. We’ve been here four years, some five. We have some who have been here six years. It’s a new chapter for most of us to after football and actually graduating. Some of us are graduating next month. It’s going to be very exciting for both us and our families. … This is our last game we’ll ever play in The Swamp in an orange and blue jersey, so all of the seniors I know are going to go out and give everything they’ve got.”

» Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio, who will have his parents and fiancée there to support him after running out of the tunnel: “I just hope I don’t cry like everybody else has been saying. It’s going to be very emotional coming out the tunnel one last time. I’m very excited but sad at the same time.”

» Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, who transferred from a junior college: “It’s bittersweet. Not even just because of the simple fact that this has been a bad season. Mostly because I’m ready to move on to the next part of my life. So it’s bittersweet that way. … I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty emotional, yeah. It’s the last one. It’s probably not going to hit me until probably after a week later that it was my last one.”

» Senior do-everything Trey Burton, who will have multiple members of his family there as well as his wife and baby daughter: “A lot of mixed emotions. I’m really happy for my time here. I wouldn’t want to take anything back, all the challenges and all that type of stuff has helped me mature as a man. I’m just really happy with how things have gone. … I’m going to try not to cry. My family will be out there so I hope it won’t be too bad. I play and I have a lot of emotions for everything I do, so we’ll see. … I think it’s bittersweet for everybody. You don’t want your last game in college football to come and it’s coming.”

Continue Reading » Friday Final: Bittersweet finale for Florida seniors

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Snell’s Slant: Beat Florida State? It can happen.

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He has returned to continue sharing his musings through the 2013 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

I honestly did not think this season could get any worse for the Gators when I sat down to consider the final two games on the slate last week…obviously I was wrong. The loss to Georgia Southern was easily Florida’s most embarrassing defeat in school history and set a number of other records that Adam has already written about multiple times here on OnlyGators.com.

This sucks. It truly blows. I could perhaps express that sentiment more eloquently but that’s how I truly feel. I never thought I would see the day where this team would be what they are now: a horrific, atrocious, undisciplined football team.

I wish I could provide you a fantastic parralell of how I once faced this kind of adversity, overcame it, and the end result was me riding off into the sunset like a hero. I also wish I could tell you that this story will eventually have a happy ending. I cannot.

Fortunately for me, I never had to endure a season like this, and unfortunately for everyone, there probably won’t be a happy ending to this story. More likely than not, it will get worse before it gets better. Unless…

While it may appear on the surface that UF has nothing left to play for but pride let’s not forget about this Saturday’s opponent. When you commit to play for the Gators and join the Florida football program, you usually do so despite being heavily recruited by in-state rival Florida State. You likely have friends and former teammates on the other side and have a special fire burning inside you during game week.

Continue Reading » Snell’s Slant: Beat Florida State? It can happen.

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SIX BITS: Masters, Zunino, baseball, Elam, Horford

1 » A pair of Florida Gators will be competing at the 2013 Masters this week at Augusta National Golf Club, one of whom is a current University of Florida student and a member of the school’s golf team. Senior T.J. Vogel, a 22-year old amateur, will be playing in his first ever major and has decided to properly take in the moment. Over the weekend, he and his caddie arranged his schedule so he could “bump” into Tiger Woods during an early-morning tee time. “I basically ran into him and we talked for a few minutes,” he said according to the Orlando Sentinel. Vogel has been playing at Augusta as much as possible in preparation for the Masters and will get his big opportunity starting on Thursday. He will be joined in Augusta by former Gators golfer Brian Gay, who has played as a professional since 1994 and has four PGA Tour wins but has never finished better than 20th in a major (2008 PGA Championship).

2 » Former Florida catcher Mike Zunino, the highest-drafted baseball player in school history (No. 3 in the 2012 MLB Draft), is breaking out in a major way while playing minor league baseball for the Seattle Mariners. Currently assigned to the Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A), Zunino is simply crushing the ball. On Tuesday night, Zunino smacked a grand slam and has now hit a homer in three-straight games. He has hit four home runs in five games and boasts a MiLB-high 16 RBI while batting .429 and slugging an absurd 1.238 with an on-base percentage of 1.696.

Read four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Masters, Zunino, baseball, Elam, Horford

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One night, two late game-winners for Gators

Florida women’s basketball was facing elimination from the 2013 Women’s NIT while Gators softball was about to fall to a heated rival when a late-game swish of the net and an extra-inning crack of the bat turned the fortunes of the respective teams in a pair of nail-biter situations Wednesday evening.

Though Florida women’s basketball did not receive an invitation to the NCAA Tournament, the Gators have been fighting for their lives on the road. After taking down Florida International 75-68 in first-round action last Thursday, UF earned a dominant 85-53 victory over Winthrop on Monday to advance to the WNIT round of 16.

On Wednesday, the Gators (21-14) took on the Charlotte 49ers (26-6) and were engaged in an absolute dogfight. Florida coughed up its lead with less than six minutes to play and found itself in a four-point hole with possession and 1:05 remaining.

Just 13 seconds into the possession, freshman guard January Miller drained a three-pointer with 52 seconds left to cut the Gators’ deficit to one. On the ensuing possession, freshman forward Christin Mercer swiped the ball from Charlotte’s Ny Hammonds and junior G Jaterra Bonds got fouled on a shot attempt.

At the line with a chance to go ahead by a point with 20 seconds remaining, Bonds made the first free throw but missed the second. Suddenly, senior F Jennifer George swooped in for the rebound and head coach Amanda Butler called a 30-second timeout with 15.6 seconds remaining.

Continue Reading » One night, two late game-winners for Gators

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FOUR BITS: softball, tennis, baseball, basketball

1 » No. 4 Florida Gators softball (23-1) continued its stellar start to the 2013 season by upending the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (22-1) on Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, AL. Florida handed Alabama its first loss of the season in the non-conference showdown (the game was scheduled outside of league play) by scoring six runs in the final two innings to turn a 4-2 deficit into an 8-4 victory. Junior right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (11-1, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R [2 ER], 3 BB, 5 K) threw well but was victimized by a pair of untimely errors before leaving the contest. Sophomore RHP Lauren Haeger (1.0 IP, 2 BB, 4 K) replaced her in relief and ensured that the Gators maintained the advantage they gained early in the top of the seventh. A two-RBI double by freshman pinch hitter Taylore Fuller (1/2, 2 RBI) put Florida ahead in the seventh. Haeger (2/3, RBI, R, BB), senior right fielder Kelsey Horton (2/4, RBI, R) and junior third baseman Stephanie Tofft (2/4, RBI, R) each knocked in runs for the Gators.

2 » No. 5 Florida women’s tennis (8-2) bounced back from its tough loss on Sunday with a 4-0 sweep of the No. 16 Florida State Seminoles (8-3) on Wednesday in Tallahassee, FL. The Gators debuted some new doubles pairings in the contest after struggling to win the doubles point in recent matches. The switch worked out for Florida on Wednesday as it took the doubles point before running through singles action as No. 11 junior Sofie Oyen earned a 6-0, 6-1 victory, No. 1 Lauren Embree picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win, and No. 53 junior Alex Cercone took her match 6-4, 6-3. UF improved to 53-1 all-time against FSU, according to the school.

3 » Gators baseball (7-7) has fought hard over the last four games to get its record back to .500 after losing six-straight games from Feb. 20 to March 1. In a home-and-home series against the Jacksonville Dolphins (4-9) on Tuesday and Wednesday, Florida came from behind twice to pick up a pair of victories. On Tuesday, the Gators trailed 5-4 heading into the top of the seventh but scored four runs over the final three innings to pick up the 8-5 victory in Jacksonville, FL. Back at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Wednesday, Florida rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth including a walk-off RBI single by sophomore PH Connor Mitchell (1/1, RBI) that brought home senior first baseman Vickash Ramjit (3/4, 2 R, BB), who was intentionally walked earlier in the wild frame. UF looks to extend its four-game winning streak this weekend when it hosts Indiana for a three-game series from Friday-Sunday.

4 » Nine-seed Gators women’s basketball (18-13) delivered in the first round of the 2013 SEC Tournament on Thursday, taking down the eight-seed Arkansas Razorbacks (18-12) to advance to the quarterfinals against one-seed Tennessee on Friday at noon. Florida pulled off the 64-59 victory by going on a game-ending 10-2 run to erase a three-point deficit late in the contest. Junior guard Jaterra Bonds scored a game-high 17 points (12 in the second half) by hitting 10-of-12 free throws; she made just 3-of-10 field goals. Freshman G Sydney Moss also struggled from the field (3-of-11) but was just as solid from the line, draining 7-of-8 attempts to finish with 13 points.

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12/5: Florida at Florida State post-game report

No. 5/6 Florida Gators basketball (7-0) thrashed the Florida State Seminoles (4-4) by 25 points on Wednesday in Tallahassee, FL. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

Also included in this special post-game report are animated GIFs and thoughts from former players on UF’s blowout victory over FSU.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida has now won four-straight against Florida State, increasing its all-time record to 42-22 including 11-6 under Donovan and 5-3 in Tallahassee under Donovan. UF’s true seniors have never lost to FSU.
» The Gators swept the Seminoles in football, basketball and baseball (5-0) in the 2012 calendar year for the first time in school history.
» Florida has now held five of seven opponents to 49 points or fewer. The Gators have only given up 26 points or more in a single have twice in 14 halves.
» UF is 32-1 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game.
» Florida had 15 assists on 27 baskets and outscored FSU in the paint 34-14.
» The Gators out-rebounded the Seminoles 34-26, forced 22 turnovers (for 32 points) and registered 14 steals.
» The 47 points scored by Florida State tied for the second fewest against Florida in series history. It is also the lowest point total FSU has registered at its home arena.
» Florida had a game-high 37-point lead during the game.

PLAYER NOTES

» Senior guard Kenny Boynton scored 14 points in the game and now has 1,690 for his career, passing Stacey Poole (1,678) for fifth on the school’s career scoring list. He led the Gators offensively despite going just 1-for-8 from downtown. Boynton is now 1-for-13 from three-point land over the last two games.
» Redshirt senior G Mike Rosario had his best offensive game of the season, matching Boynton with a game-high 14 points and doing so while going 2-for-4 from downtown and 6-for-10 from the field.
» Junior center Patric Young continued to display his improved energy, scoring 10 points and adding a game-high eight rebounds. He missed all three of his foul shots.
» Junior forward Erik Murphy (hip pointer) did not start but played quite well off the bench, scoring nine points and adding seven boards.
» Freshman G Michael Frazier II once again played exceptionally well in his reserve role. He scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting (2-for-3 from long range) and now has 31 points over the last two games.
» Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin‘s defensive effort was noticable throughout the contest. He registered five steals, dropped five dimes and scored five points.
» Seminoles G Michael Snaer was held scoreless in the first half but finished the game with a team-high 10 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists.

Read what Donovan had to say and see much more…after the break!
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