TWO BITS: Haslem re-signs, Williams flips

1 » Former Florida Gators power forward Udonis Haslem re-signed with the Miami Heat on Friday. A three-time NBA Champion who has played his entire 11-year career with his hometown team, Haslem is Miami’s all-time leading rebounder and is the only undrafted player in league history to hold that mark with a franchise. “Udonis Haslem has been a fixture in Miami over the last 11 years,” team president Pat Riley said in a press release. “He’s a team player, an encompassing all-purpose player, that would play just about any position or role in order to win. It’s been such a privilege and honor to have him with the organization, and I’m so happy that he decided to come back.”

Haslem opted out of a $4.62 million player option to return to the Heat, doing so in hopes of providing the team with enough flexibility to re-sign its star players, including LeBron James. Once again leaving money on the table, his new contract is for two years and approximately $5.59 million, according to The Miami Herald‘s Jeff Goodman. As he is set to earn $2.73 million for the 2014-15 season, Haslem has now passed on a total of nearly $16 million in his career in order to remain with Miami.

2 » Seven months after three-star defensive back Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, FL) became the program’s only 2015 commitment, the self-described life-long Gators fan has flipped his pledge to the Georgia Bulldogs. According to 247 Sports’ of Rusty Mansell and Rivals affiliate UGASports.com, Williams is now Georgia’s 15th pledge for the recruiting cycle. Florida is subsequently down to just nine commitments.

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TWO BITS: Florida-Georgia, Billy Donovan

1 » Though the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to let the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs choose whether to offer EverBank Field‘s new cabana seating for the annual World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the schools have turned down the opportunity both for 2014 and the foreseeable future. The 17 cabanas, which according to the Associated Press can seat a maximum of 640 people, take up the space of 7,000 seats that Florida and Georgia would otherwise be able to sell for the game. The athletic directors for both schools prefer to have temporary seating added in that space rather than waste the real estate. “Our No. 1 priority is to have the same number of tickets available to our fans and we don’t have an interest in any scenario that reduces the number of tickets,” Gators AD Jeremy Foley told the AP’s Mark Long. Jacksonville removed 9,500 seats as part of its new renovation but should still come close to its capacity of 84,000 for the game.

2 » ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, after speaking with personnel throughout the NBA, listed Florida head coach Billy Donovan as the coach in the college ranks who best prepares his players to be professionals. “He runs a lot of pro stuff and integrates a lot of wrinkles,” a league executive told Goodman. “He has an innovative playbook. … He just gets it.” The rest of the 12-person list, in order: Ben Howland (unemployed), John Beilein (Michigan), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas), Buzz Williams (Virginia Tech), Rick Pitino (Louisville), John Calipari (Kentucky), Sean Miller (Arizona), Tony Bennett (Virginia).

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FOUR BITS: CBS, SEC awards, Caldwell, Wilbekin

1 » CBS on Tuesday announced its 14-week schedule of 16 Southeastern Conference football games for the 2014 season. The annual showdown between the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Florida, will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air on the network for the 12th straight season, taking place this year on Nov. 1. It was one of four games announced; the other 12 will be slated as they approach, usually six-to-12 days prior to broadcast. The SEC on CBS will once again feature two doubleheaders, on Oct. 11 (noon and 3:30 p.m.) and Nov. 8 (3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.).

Florida’s potential CBS games – featuring quality opponents and open dates on the schedule – include at Alabama (Sept. 20), at Tennessee (Oct. 4), vs. LSU (Oct. 11), vs. Missouri (Oct. 18) and South Carolina (Nov. 15).

2 » The SEC made news of its own on Tuesday by announcing year-end winners for its 2014 baseball awards. Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was named SEC Coach of the Year for the second time (2010), and right-handed pitcher Logan Shore earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Shore is 7-2 with a team-low 1.47 ERA and 52 strikeouts in a team-high 79.2 innings pitched. Also receiving accolades were junior catcher Taylor Gushue, who joined Shore on the All-SEC First Team, sophomore outfielder Harrison Bader on the All-SEC Second Team, and first baseman Peter Alonso on the All-Freshman team with Shore.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: CBS, SEC awards, Caldwell, Wilbekin

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TWO BITS: Florida-Miami series, women’s tennis

1 » Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James recently told The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that he had a conversation with Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley about renewing the football series between the two teams. James said Foley was “receptive” to the idea, a word used by Jackson, though the latter insisted that the Gators would only be amenable to playing the Canes in a neutral-site contest. “I would have to think about Orlando,” James told the paper. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.” Foley wants Florida-Miami at a neutral site for a number of reasons. The Gators already lose a home game every other year with Florida-Georgia being played in Jacksonville. UM also neither provides UF with a fair allotment of tickets nor quality locations for those seats in the 76,000-seat Sun Life Stadium. Considering the Gators have the largest base of alumni in South Florida, that is not a winning combination for the school. A neutral-site game would allow the schools to split ticketing and revenues evenly while potentially creating a new, exciting tradition.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Florida-Miami series, women’s tennis

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Florida baseball rolls over Georgia for sweep

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

It may have started with a one-run squeaker, but No. 18 Florida Gators baseball (27-13, 12-6 SEC) battered the Georgia Bulldogs (21-18-1, 7-10-1) over the weekend to secure its second-straight home series sweep and extend its overall active winning streak to six games.

The Florida-Georgia series opener set for Friday was rained out, forcing the teams to complete all three games in a span of approximately 24 hours. The Gators took down the Bulldogs 3-2 and 8-1 in a Saturday doubleheader before completing the sweep 10-3 on Sunday at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida powered past Georgia in large part due to its bullpen, which was unfazed by the lack of rest and only allow one run over 11.2 innings.

Continue Reading » Florida baseball rolls over Georgia for sweep

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FOUR BITS: Foley, Roper, Tebow, ESPN

1 » In a question-and-answer session with the school’s website, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley noted Thursday that his team and the Georgia Bulldogs will both wear colored jerseys during the Florida-Georgia game. “It’s just something a little different,” Foley explained. “To be honest, a fan suggested it. He sent me a picture of what they used to do when Coach [Steve] Spurrier was playing. He had a blue jersey on and whoever was tackling him had a red jersey on. It’s a unique rivalry and just a little different something to do. There is no particular reason. Georgia agreed and we agreed. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to win the ballgame no matter what color jersey you have on. I think it’s just a little something that makes the game even more unique.” No specifics were given as to whether this is a one-off decision or has been instituted for the duration of the current contract between the opponents to play in Jacksonville, FL.

Foley also notes that there is a “sense of urgency” in remodeling the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and that a decision on upcoming Southeastern Conference football scheduling (whether to go to nine league games) will come in June, which you can read along with some other less-interesting topics by clicking here.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Foley, Roper, Tebow, ESPN

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Fastbreak: No. 7 Gators cage Bulldogs 72-50

The No. 7 Florida Gators (14-2, 3-0 SEC) set a program record by extending their home winning streak to 25 games while blowing out the Georgia Bulldogs (8-7, 2-1 SEC) on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

“It’s a good milestone. Any time you can do something for the first time in school history, it’s always nice,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “But like I said on Monday, we’re 0-0 playing [any individual] game here at home; you just got to go out and play.”

Florida triumphed 72-50 while pulling off its eighth-straight victory and 13th in the last 14 contests, which OnlyGators.com breaks down with seven quick-hitters:

It was over when: Despite failing to hit a field goal over a span of 9:41 in the second half, the Gators still led the Bulldogs by 17. That basket-less streak ended courtesy of consecutive three-pointers by sophomore guard Michael Frazier II, who pushed Florida’s lead up to 23 points. The Gators completed a 16-3 run – including a third Frazier triple – to take a 27-point lead just minutes later. He finished with a game- and career-high 21 points on 5-of-12 shooting from deep with four rebounds and two assists.

Prominent player: Though he did not have much of an impact in the second half, due to being rested while simultaneously in foul trouble, senior forward Will Yeguete was the best player on the court for Florida during the dominant first half that gave it a 20-point halftime lead over Georgia. Yeguete scored 10 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting (his sole a three) and finished with 12 points (two shy of his career-high) and six rebounds for his best game of the 2013-14 season.

“He needs a day here and there, so I gave him off on Sunday from practice because I thought he looked really exhausted even in the game against Arkansas,” Donovan explained. “He didn’t have any bounce, any legs, and I think he was probably a little bit tired. So we gave him Sunday, and I’d say yesterday he probably took half the reps. And I think that probably helped him physically some kind of get rejuvenated.”

Significant stretch: Trailing 6-4 early, UF erupted on an explosive 26-4 run that lasted 10:20, included nine UGA turnovers and four Florida three-pointers – all from different players. The Gators held the Bulldogs scoreless for 6:32 during that stretch as they came away with 16 points off 12 total first-half turnovers.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 7 Gators cage Bulldogs 72-50

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Florida vs. Georgia preview: Prather out, Walker waiting, Gators going streaking

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU (Joe Davis, Dino Gaudio)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN appLive Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(7) FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 13-2 (2-0 SEC) Record: 8-6 (2-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -14.5 | O/U [OFF]

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida lead the all-time series against Georgia 108-99 (25-10 under Donovan). The Gators are 14-3 against the Bulldogs at home under Donovan with 11-straight victories against their rivals in the O’Dome.
» Due to the SEC’s rotational schedule, UF and UGA will not meet twice this season. According to the school, it will be the first time that has happened since the 1943-44 campaign, when Florida did not field a basketball team.
» The Gators are attempting to break the program record for longest home winning streak. UF has won 24-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to last season when it went undefeated in its home gym. The streak is the third-longest nationally behind Stephen F. Austin and Duke (26).
» Florida is on a seven-game winning streak and has won 12 of its last 13 games.
» The Gators are 65-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 6-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. UF is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» The Gators will likely be using their eighth different starting lineup in 16 games.

NOT BACK YET

Senior forward Casey Prather (knee) will miss his second-straight contest, Donovan announced on Monday. Prather continues to deal with what is being termed a bone bruise and will have missed three practices and two games by the time the final buzzer sounds on Tuesday. “He still has issues. He’s getting better. He’s progressing. When he’ll be available to play, I don’t know, but he’s out,” said Donovan.

Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (ankle) and senior center Patric Young (knee) continue to deal with their own ailments but will both play Tuesday as expected. Both have been full participants in practice coming out of Florida’s 84-82 overtime win at Arkansas on Saturday.

“[Wilbekin] is still sore. He’s still dealing with some issues,” he said. “Those guys are full-go. [Monday] in practice they [were] out there. I’m sure Scottie is dealing with some soreness and stiffness in his ankle. He should be able to play [Tuesday].”

Continue Reading » Florida vs. Georgia preview: Prather out, Walker waiting, Gators going streaking

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