Fastbreak: No. 16 Florida rolls Fresno State 66-49

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

The No. 16 Florida Gators (9-2) rolled the Fresno State Bulldogs (6-6) on Saturday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL, picking up a 66-49 victory in the second game of the 2013 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

OnlyGators.com breaks down the Gators’ ninth win with The Fastbreak.

It was over when: Florida found its three-point stroke. A trio if triples from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II and point guards senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill stretched the Gators lead to as much as 15 early in the second half. Fresno State made small runs, but UF’s lead never shrunk below nine. Wilbekin finished with 11 points, three assists and six rebounds on the afternoon.

Prominent player: Senior forward Casey Prather continued to impress for the Gators, going 7-of-10 for 14 points with six boards. Prather, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, provided much-needed offense for Florida, something the team was without most of the game, especially in the first 20 minutes.

Standout stat: The Gators out-rebounded the Bulldogs 47-24, providing Florida with numerous opportunities for second-chance points. This edge led to the Gators scoring 16 of 23 first-half points inside the paint. UF would score more than half (34) of its total points (66) down low.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 16 Florida rolls Fresno State 66-49

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Gameday: No. 16 Florida Gators vs. Fresno State

Event: 2013 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic
Location: BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL [Capacity: 20,737]
Time: 4:30 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports (Rich Waltz, Mark Wise, Allison Williams)
SiriusXM: 119/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: None | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(16) FLORIDA GATORS FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Rodney Terry
Record: 8-2 Record: 6-5
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mountain West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -17 | O/U [OFF]

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Fresno State have never squared off on the hardwood, but UF is 3-0 under Donovan against teams out of the Mountain West.
» The Gators are 12-2 all-time in the OBBC and will be participating in the event for the 13th time in the last 14 years.
» This will be the fourth contest in a six-game span that Florida will be playing away from its home court. UF is 1-2 in those three prior games.
» The Gators are 1-0 in games played at neutral sites this season.
» Florida is 2-0 this season against top 25-ranked opponents with both of its losses coming on the road against teams currently ranked in the top 10 nationally. UF defeated a ranked opponent away from its home court on Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 17, 2011 when it faced Texas A&M in the OBBC.
» The Gators are 61-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida’s defense allowed 75 points to Memphis on Tuesday, the most given up in a regular season game since March 4, 2012.
» The Gators are now 4-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign.
» Florida defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.

Read the rest of the Florida-Fresno State gameday preview…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 16 Florida Gators vs. Fresno State

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12/19: Donovan demands defense, Young steps up

No. 16 Florida Gators (8-2) head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Thursday, two days before his team takes on the Fresno State Bulldogs (4-5) at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL as part of the 2013 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

ON THE OFFENSIVE ABOUT DEFENSE

Suffice to say, Donovan is not pleased with Florida’s defense, and it his problems start with the Gators’ inability to effectively defend the three-point line. Through 10 games, UF has allowed 6.1 threes per game with teams shooting 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. In its recent three-game stretch against ranked opponents, Florida allowed teams to shoot 42.3 percent from downtown.

“Right now I think, when you look at us defensively, we’re not where we need to be or want to be. One of our challenges has been the three-point line in terms of the percentage,” he explained. “I don’t think teams here of late have made an enormous amount of three-point shots against us. But when you have teams going 7-for-14, 6-for-11, those things – that’s a problem, percentage-wise. For us, against the highest level of competition we’ve played against here so far, we’re giving up almost 40 percent from the three-point line. The overall stat sheet is a little bit deceiving, but we’ve got to do a better job there. This will be a test for us to get better because they’re going to test us from the three-point line pretty much every possession.”

Donovan was particularly disappointed by the Gators’ overall play against Memphis. UF’s assist-to-turnover ratio was abhorrent at 0.76 due to Florida coughing the ball up 17 times on the evening. The Gators are currently ranked 200th nationally in assists, averaging just 12.6 per contest.

“I didn’t think that we played to the level, to the standard that we want to play in. I’m hopeful that coming out of our game our guys can see… we got to get a lot, lot better,” he said. “I’m measuring that based on where I think we can be. … We played a really, really poor second half against Kansas; we did not pay well. I thought we were sporadic at best in the Memphis game.

“I don’t look at our team right now and sit there and say that we beat two ranked teams that we’re playing very good basketball right now. We’re not playing to the standard or level that I would expect our team to play at right now.”

He added: “There’s things to me that are disappointing because we’re dealing with older guys that know. That, to me, is a very, very fine line. You start to question as a coach, ‘How bad do you want to be great as a team?’ Because if you want to be great as a team, here are the things that need to get corrected.”

Continue Reading » 12/19: Donovan demands defense, Young steps up

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SIX BITS: Macklin, lacrosse, softball, Gilbert, Meyer

1 » Former Florida Gators forward/center Vernon Macklin was recently set down to the NBA Development League for no other reason than that the Detroit Pistons wanted to see him get some in-game action rather than sit stationary on the end of the team’s bench during NBA games. According to M Live, Macklin has been playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and has been dominating. In his first five games with the team, Macklin is averaging 16.6 points and 17.2 rebounds (10.6 on the defensive glass) in more than 36 minutes a game. He will remain with the team through April 7 before returning to the Pistons. “He’s playing with a lot of energy and effort. He’s gotten better each and every game,” Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. “It’s great for him to get that experience. We see continued development. We see progress in Vernon.”

2 » No. 4 Florida lacrosse (11-2) hit two major milestones on Wednesday, recording their first-ever shutout while registering the highest goal total in school history in a 29-0 beat down of the Fresno State Bulldogs (2-6) at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Freshman midfielder Nicole Graziano scored a game-high and career-high six goals on seven shots, and freshman attacker Nora Barry joined her in dominating on offense with five goals on six shots. The duo also combined for six ground balls and six draw controls in the contest. Junior As Ashley Bruns and Gabi Wiegand combined for six goals and three assists with Bruns becoming the first player in team history to eclipse 200 career goals. In addition to scoring the most goal sand allowing the fewest in team history, the Gators set or tied a number of other records. Florida had the most points (41), assists (12) and draw controls (24) in team history, tied their records for shots (44), first-half points (17) and second-half points (12) and also committed a record five fouls, the fewest in team history. The Gators accomplished all of this without Juniors A Kitty Cullen and M Brittany Dashiell, two of the team’s leading scorers.

3 » Despite falling to a ranked opponent, No. 4 Florida softball (29-3) suffered a tough 4-1 defeat on Wednesday in Gainesville at the hands of the No. 21 South Florida Bulls (30-5). Freshman right-hander Lauren Haeger (9-2) tossed a complete game, allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits along with five walks and four strikeouts. In addition to going up arguably the nation’s best pitcher in Sara Nevins, the Gators committed a pair of costly errors that put them in a 4-0 hole through three innings. A solo homer by Haeger (1-3, HR, RBI, R, BB) in the bottom of the fifth was the only run to cross the plate for Florida, which left eight base runners on including three in the bottom of the sixth and two in the bottom of the seventh with the game-tying run at the plate. UF defeated USF 3-2 in extra innings on Feb. 12 but will not have another chance to earn revenge.

4 » Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert will receive a bump in responsibility next season as head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed on Wednesday that he will help protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side as the team’s new left tackle. Gilbert, who played both left and right tackle in college, was drafted to eventually hold down the former role but was relegated to the latter position in 2011 due to experience and depth issues. “We fully expect him to [move],” Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I probably had more concerns about him being the right tackle than I did him being at left tackle just because of his college experience.” Gilbert is the second Gators offensive lineman to recently be drafted and become an starter for Pittsburgh as center Maurkice Pouncey won his job out of training camp two seasons ago.

5 » Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer sat down for an interview this week with CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd to discuss a number of topics mostly concerning his return to the sidelines and how the Ohio State program is coming along heading into his first season at the helm. However, Meyer also touched on a few things at Florida including what he called an “awful” team that the Gators fielded for his first season in 2005. “We’re not a good team. As a matter of fact, we’re bad, a really bad football team – not aligned, selfish. We had some really good players on defense. On offense we’re a mess. Chris Leak wasn’t ready. Then we lose to South Carolina,” he recounted. “I remember walking to my radio show and there are some boos. The phone calls were absolutely brutal. I’m looking at [Mick Hubert] and I’m just getting greased. I’m thinking to myself, ‘What are you doing here?'” Meyer said the Florida State win really turned things around both on the field and off the field in recruiting. He also spoke about other issues he faced including “the Spurrier culture” in the SEC.

6 » While the Denver Broncos were in the process of signing quarterback Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow was in Tampa, FL helping open up the new D1 Sports Training facility while working out with, meeting and greeting children, teenagers and adults. Despite so much being on his mind about his NFL future, Tebow was obviously thinking about plenty of other things during this special occasion (photo gallery).

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