16 Gator Bites for Wednesday, March 20

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Though President Barack Obama‘s official 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket will be released on Wednesday at 9 a.m. on ESPN, the network released his Final Four late Tuesday night. President Obama chose the Florida Gators to win the South Region and also has Louisville, Indiana and Ohio State advancing to the Final Four.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had a hellacious experience during his team’s game on Monday evening. With 5.7 seconds left in overtime and Chicago trailing Denver by a single point, Noah got in perfect position underneath the basket and tipped in what otherwise would have been a missed shot. Though Noah scored the apparent game-winner and the referees did not call interference on the play, they checked the replay and eventually reversed their decision. The problem? Referees are only allowed to use replay to review on-court calls of interference, not to check on non-calls. Take a look at the video below to see what transpired on Monday.

Read 14 more interesting bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 16 Gator Bites for Wednesday, March 20

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Florida men’s swimming wins first SEC title since 1993; Gators capture eight championships

The No. 2 Florida Gators men’s swimming and diving program entered the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships on Wednesday looking to get over the hump and take home the title for the first time in 20 years. After leading the pack for the final three days of the event, the Gators finally accomplished that feat on Saturday, taking home the 34th SEC Championship in team history and first since 1993.

Florida (1408.0) beat the Auburn Tigers (1196.0) for the title, snapping a 16-year winning streak and reclaiming the pool after finishing second to Auburn for 11-straight years. The No. 11 Gators women (1190.5) were not as lucky, finishing third behind the Georgia Bulldogs (1420.0) and host Texas A&M Aggies (1296.0).

The men’s and women’s teams combined for eight individual SEC Championships (five and three, respectively). Florida also won four individual awards and earned 21 NCAA “A” time automatic qualifying marks.

2013 SEC Awards (4)
» SEC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year – Gregg Troy
» SEC Commissioner’s Trophy (High Point Winner, women) – Elizabeth Beisel
» SEC Female Freshman Swimmer of the Year – Natalie Hinds
» SEC Female Freshman Diver of the Year – Cassie Weil

2013 SEC Individual Titles (8)
» Men’s 100-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (46.02s) [back-to-back]
» Men’s 200-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (1:42.17)
» Men’s 200-yard breaststroke – Matt Elliott (1:54.13)
» Men’s 200-yard freestyle – Pawel Werner (1:33.82)
» Men’s 800-yard freestyle relay – Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Marcin Cieslak (6:14.76)
» Women’s 100-yard butterfly – Natalie Hinds (51.70s)
» Women’s 200-yard backstroke – Elizabeth Beisel (1:50.40) [third-straight]
» Women’s 400-yard individual medley – Elizabeth Beisel (3:59.53) [third-straight]

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Gators dominate second half, cage Bulldogs 64-47

Trailing at the half for just the second time this season, the No. 7/8 Florida Gators (15-2, 5-0 SEC) outworked the Georgia Bulldogs (7-11, 1-4 SEC) over the final 20 minutes at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA, outscoring the hosts 40-20 in the second half and pulling away for an impressive 64-47 victory.

The Gators remained undefeated in Southeastern Conference play by clamping down defensively, rotating the ball in the second half and holding an opponent under 50 points in a game for the ninth time in the 2012-13 season.

Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin led all scorers with a career-high-tying 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting with three assists and two rebounds. He registered 13 of those points in the first half as his teammates struggled offensively.

Georgia controlled the tempo early in the contest by jumping ahead 11-2 over the first few minutes and handing Florida its largest deficit in a conference game this season.

A quick 8-0 run got the Gators within a point of the Bulldogs at 11-10, and Florida was eventually able to tie the contest at 21 and again at 24 before guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to give Georgia a 27-24 lead at the end of the first half.

Continue Reading » Gators dominate second half, cage Bulldogs 64-47

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Wilbekin’s defense, attitude propelling Florida

No. 7/8 FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 14-2 (4-0 SEC) Record: 7-10 (1-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Stegeman Coliseum – Athens, GA [Capacity: 10,523]
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Barry Booker) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 134/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: Florida -15.5 | O/U (OFF)

The Florida Gators basketball roster is filled with McDonald’s All-Americans, highly-rated recruits and big-name players, but it is junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin – an underrated local product (and project) out of Gainesville, FL who joined the team after his junior season of high school – who is having a huge impact on the team.

On a team with a pair of big-time scorers in the backcourt, much of the dirty work is left to Wilbekin. Senior guard Kenny Boynton plays fantastic defense and redshirt senior Mike Rosario is improving in that area, but Wilbekin has been shutting down his man game-in and game-out all while leading Florida with 4.9 assists per game.

Over the last two contests, Wilbekin held Texas A&M’s Elston Turner to four points on 1-of-10 shooting just one game after Turner scored 40 points against Kentucky and dominated Missouri’s Phil Pressey, who committed a career-high 10 turnovers while going 1-for-7 from the field for two points.

In fact, Wilbekin is on his way to climbing the ranks of some of the best on-ball defenders in the history of the program as he draws comparisons to hard-working guys like Justin Hamilton and Corey Brewer.

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1/9: Florida vs. Georgia post-game report

No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball (11-2, 1-0 SEC) throttled the Georgia Bulldogs (6-8, 0-1 SEC) on Wednesday night in Gainesville, FL. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 107-97 all-time against Georgia and boasts the most victories against this rival than any other team. The Gators hold a 24-8 record against the Bulldogs since Donovan took over the program and are 14-2 in that span while playing in the O’Dome.
» UF is 16-3 over the last 19 games against UGA with 11-straight wins at home.
» Florida is 12-5 in SEC openers under Donovan and 15-2 in SEC home openers.
» The Gators have now held seven of 12 opponents under 50 points.
» Florida registered a season-high 17 assists on 29 made baskets.
» The Gators scored 27 points off 19 Bulldogs turnovers.
» Florida scored more points in the second half (49) than Georgia did in the game (44).
» The Gators’ 33-point victory was the second-largest margin ever between the teams.
» Florida hit a season-high 12 three-pointers in the game.
» 3,200 UF students were in attendance, the highest total in the last seven years.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario continued his outstanding season with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-of-6 from downtown). He also went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe but did not record another statistic in the game aside from one steal.
» Junior forward Casey Prather stepped into the starting lineup as an injury replacement and scored the first six points of the game for his team. Prather finished with 10 points along with team-highs of seven rebounds and three steals.
» Junior center Patric Young was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor for 11 points. He also registered two assists, three rebounds and a team-high four blocks.
» Playing with a broken rib, junior F Erik Murphy hit 3-of-6 treys for 11 points.
» Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin went 2-for-4 from downtown for eight points and also chipped in a team-high six assists.
» Senior G Kenny Boynton had an off shooting night but entered the top-10 in school history in made field goals with his first basket. He also moved up to fourth in career starts (118) and fifth in minutes played (3,911).

Read what Donovan had to say and see much more…after the break!
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(9/11) Gators basketball runs over Bulldogs 77-44

The longest-standing rivalry in Southeastern Conference history was barely a contest on Wednesday as the No. 9/11 Florida Gators (11-2, 1-0 SEC) opened up league play with a dominant 77-44 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs (6-8, 0-1 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida improved to 12-5 in SEC openers and 15-2 in SEC home openers under head coach Billy Donovan while also increasing its edge over Georgia to 24-8 overall under Donovan and 14-2 in the O’Dome. The Gators have now registered 11-straight home wins in the series.

Junior forward Casey Prather earned a spot start for Florida with senior F Erik Murphy (rib) and junior F Will Yeguete (knee) ailing and immediately made the most of it. Prather hit three-straight shots to score the first six points of the game, grabbed two early steals (as part of four-straight Bulldogs turnovers) and helped the Gators open the game with an 11-0 lead.

Florida then suffered a scoring drought that lasted 4:38 but followed with an 8-0 run including five-straight points from redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario to jump ahead 19-4. UF took a 13-point lead into the half as its defense forced 11 turnovers and held UGA to just 13 shots in the first 20 minutes.

The Gators opened the second half trading blows with the Bulldogs but drained four-straight shots from downtown to pull ahead 53-26 with 12:07 left in the contest. Florida kept the pressure on Georgia for the duration of the game by unleashing a scoring barrage in the second half to hold on for its first conference win of the young season.

Rosario led the way for UF with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-of-6 from three). Joining him with double-digit scoring nights were Prather (10 points), Murphy (11 points) and junior center Patric Young (11 points).

Prather registered team-highs of seven rebounds and three steals, while Young went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin chipped in eight points and a team-high six assists, while senior G Kenny Boynton had another rough shooting night (1-of-7 from downtown) with seven points.

Boynton entered the top-10 in school history in made field goals with his first basket on Wednesday. He also moved into fourth in school history in career starts (118) and fifth in minutes played (3,911).

The Gators scored more points in the second half (49) than the Bulldogs did in the game (44) and dominated their SEC East rivals in every phase of the contest. Florida outshot Georgia from the field (.527-.389), three-point range (.462-.100) and the charity stripe (.875-.789); won the rebounding battle 26-25; dished 13 more assists (17-4); grabbed seven more steals (10-3); registered one more block (6-5); and committed 12 fewer turnovers (7-19).

UF also scored 27 points off turnovers compared to two for UGA and outscored the visitors 30-22 in the paint, 22-16 off the bench and 7-5 on second chances.

Florida will next take on LSU in a road game on Saturday at 4 p.m. The contest will air live nationally on ESPNU.

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1/7: Murphy’s broken rib, Gators enter SEC Play

With the No. 9/11 Florida Gators (10-2) set to play their first game of the Southeastern Conference schedule on Wednesday at home against the Georgia Bulldogs (6-7), head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Monday to discuss his team’s issues and mindset at the conclusion of non-conference play.

STARTER OUT FOR A WHILE?

Senior forward Erik Murphy was no doubt disappointed that he was unable to play in front of hundreds of family and friends that made the trek out to the Yale game on Sunday, but news announced Monday afternoon likely put him further in the dumps. According to Florida, X-rays on Murphy’s injured ribs revealed that one rib is fractured and not simply bruised as he and the team had hoped.

“It happened at Air Force. He had some discomfort but nothing really significant where he couldn’t practice,” Donovan said. “He practiced on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and was fine. He got hit again there on Wednesday and then he came back on Friday and tried to practice and he couldn’t’ go. And then in shootaround [Sunday], we tried to put him in shootaround, and he did a little bit but he was still challenged physically. It’s in a really bad spot, the injury, because it’s right by his lat so any time he lifts his arms up there’s a significant amount of pain.”

Even though his rib is broken, Murphy is cleared to play because he cannot do any further damage to it. However, the amount of pain he is in due to the location of the injury and how inhibiting it is means that he is the only one who can determine when he is able to return to the court. That is why the Gators’ second-leading scorer (12.1 points per game) and best three-point shooter (45.2 percent) will remain “doubtful” to play.

“He’s cleared to play right now. He can play. But it’s all up to him how much pain he can tolerate. He’s not going to significantly hurt himself any more because he’ll be padded up and it’s not going to be a problem. But what happens is, if he gets hit there or when he reaches and stretches, it becomes so uncomfortable. His breathing is a problem. His sleeping is a problem,” Donovan said. “Him playing on Wednesday has nothing to do if the diagnosis comes back that they’re broken or bruised. That has nothing to do with whether or not he’ll play. It’s all up to him.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
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10/29: Muchamp on loss, injuries, running game

No. 7 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s sloppy 17-9 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Missouri Tigers.

OPENING STATEMENT

Muschamp had plenty to say when he stepped up to the microphone on Monday. Below is how he began his weekly press conference.

“Obviously the turnovers were the killer in the game. Self-inflicted. When you turn the ball over six times, you’re going to have a hard time beating anyone. That was disappointing really at the end of the game. Really inconsistent offensively in the run game and in the pass game. Never really got some continuity going from different issues. [...]

“I thought we were really good on third down against a good third-down defense. The inconsistencies and then the turnovers really were doomsday for us offensively. Defensively, disappointed with some of the first-half run fits. I thought we missed some things that we don’t normally miss. Got those things cleaned up. The last drive obviously we had an opportunity to win the game and don’t get it done. Red zone defense, third-down defense and really in the second half up until the last drive we played pretty solid. I thought we were solid in special teams, just nothing spectacular. We didn’t do anything to really change the game, which we have for the most part this season and we need to.

“Disappointed with the results but not the effort. Our guys played hard. It’s very evident as you watch the film, we played hard. We played extremely hard in the game. We laid a lot on the line out there on the field. Very pleased with the effort. We have a very resilient group of young men in the locker room. You turn the ball over six times, you face a lot of adversity in the game and we’re driving to win the game on the last drive of the game. That says a lot about our football team. That says a lot about the guys in the locker room, that they were able to overcome a lot of self-inflicted issues to continue to fight to win the game and have the opportunity. Six turnovers, you should have walked out of there losing by four touchdowns, honestly. That says a lot about the character on our football team and what we’ve got going on in that locker room.

“It’s not the result we wanted, and I’m disappointed, that falls on my shoulders and I’ll handle that and we’ll move forward and refocus as we go but that’s all on me. No different when we win, we need to focus on Florida, be technical in our approach. I told the staff yesterday and today again, obviously there was some things we did well in the game and there are some things we need to have corrected. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to focus on us and what we need to do to get better. [...]

“That’s the tough thing about football – you got to wait seven days, you know? Billy [Donovan] and them may lose on a Wednesday and they get to go back Saturday and play, or [Kevin O'Sullivan and the baseball team], they play a double-header, they play in the morning and then in the afternoon. They can get a win and get it out of their system, and we can’t. It is what it is. I’m disappointed again with the results, not the effort of our football team. I’m very proud of the resiliency, guys continuing to fight and battle in the game. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get the results we wanted and that’s on me.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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