Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida Gators top Kentucky 61-60, win SEC Tournament Championship

Leading from wire-to-wire despite seeing its lead cut to one late in the contest, No. 1 Florida Gators basketball (32-2) won its 26th-straight game and captured the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship with a 61-60 win over the Kentucky Wildcats (24-10) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

With the victory, Florida swept the SEC titles for the first time since 2007, won its fourth SEC Tournament title and swept Kentucky 3-0 in a single season for the first time in school history. The Gators have also won 31 of their last 32 games.

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: After missing the front end of consecutive one-and-one chances with 23 seconds remaining, Florida played superb defense against Kentucky on the game’s final possession. The Gators led by one point with 14 seconds left and were able to hold off the Wildcats as James Young slipped and lost the ball after receiving a pass from Aaron Harrison in hopes of taking the game’s final shot.

Prominent players: The Gators had a different player step up in each half with sophomore guard Michael Frazier II scoring 11 of Florida’s first 12 points and senior center Patric Young lighting up in the second half with nine points of his own. The players combined to shoot 11-for-17 from the field, each finishing with 14 points and five boards. Young added three blocks.

Significant stretch: Florida led by 15 with 11:03 to play, but Kentucky finally found an answer with a 14-0 run to nearly erase the Gators’ advantage, leaving it at just one point with 6:16 to play. UF went scoreless for a stretch of 5:55 during UK’s run, ending it with a three from Frazier. Florida never lost its lead, however, with the Gators earning a wire-to-wire victory over the Wildcats.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida Gators top Kentucky 61-60, win SEC Tournament Championship

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Gameday – 2014 SEC Tournament Championship: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Location: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA [Capacity: 26,000]
Time: 3:15 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 108/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: GameWatchESPN.com | TrophyWatchESPN.com
Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(1) FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 31-2 Record: 24-9
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -6 | O/U: OFF

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» The Gators won the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title earned the No. 1 overall seed in the SEC Tournament, earning two byes and playing its first game Friday in quarterfinal action. The championship is the program’s second-straight title, third in the last four seasons, seventh overall and fifth outright.
» The Wildcats advanced to the finals after pulling off a 70-58 victory over Georgia.
» UF is 40-45 all-time in the SEC Tournament with a 25-14 record under Donovan and three-straight SEC Tournament Championships from 2005-07. The Gators are 3-6 in their nine SEC Tournament finals appearances, 3-3 under Donovan.
» Kentucky leads Florida 94-36 in the all-time series with the Wildcats also holding a 24-16 mark over the Gators since Donovan took over the program. UF is 3-8 all-time in neutral site games against UK (1-3 under Donovan).
» Donovan is 4-8 against Calipari after winning in three of their last four meetings.
» The Gators defeated the Wildcats 69-59 on Feb. 15 in Lexington, KY and 84-65 on March 8 in Gainesville, FL. Florida is looking to beat Kentucky three times in a single season for the first time in history. UK has not lost thrice in the same season to a team since 1979 (Tennessee).
» UF enters Saturday’s tournament final on a program-record 25-game winning streak and at 18-0 have set a school mark for most conference wins in a single season. Its 29 wins were also the most the Gators have captured in a single regular season. Florida has won 30 of its last 31 games.
» The Gators are the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in league play. UF is also the first team from a major conference, since Indiana in 1976, to go 18-0 in league play.
» Florida has gone two-straight seasons without losing at home, holding a 32-0 record since the start of the 2012-13 campaign (17-0 in conference games).
» The Gators have won nine-straight SEC road games, also a program record.
» Florida is 82-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 14-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. Florida is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators are 11-2 in true road games this campaign with both losses coming against ranked opponents during the first month of the season. Florida lost those contests by a combined seven points. UF is also 4-0 in neutral-site games this campaign.
» 2013-14 was the first time that Florida has ended the regular season ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Gators have achieved a No. 1 ranking in four separate seasons and currently hold a 20-5 record playing as the top team in the country.
» Florida’s senior class is the first in school history to win three SEC championships.
» The Gators have won 30+ games prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

Continue Reading » Gameday – 2014 SEC Tournament Championship: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats

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Fastbreak: No. 1 Gators pull away to top Vols 56-49, advance to 2014 SEC Tournament finals

Coming back from its second-largest halftime deficit of the season, the No. 1 Florida Gators (31-2) fought hard to take down the Tennessee Volunteers (21-12) in the second half and pull away for a 56-49 victory in the semifinals of the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Florida did not trail for the final nine minutes of the contest after facing a consistent deficit over the first 31 minutes of the game but eventually extended its winning streak to 25-straight games dating back to Dec. 2, 2013. UF outscored UT 28-14 in the second half, holding its opponent without a field goal for a 9:29 stretch.

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Leading by two with less than two minutes to play, Florida took off on a fastbreak created by a steal from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II. Senior forward Casey Prather exploded to the hoop for a dunk but was grabbed around the waist with two hands by Antonio Barton, who was assessed a flagrant foul. Prather made both free throws (after missing two earlier) to give UF a 53-49 lead with 1:21 left. UT did not score again. Prather posted 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with a team-high five assists though he did commit four turnovers.

Prominent player: Senior center Patric Young put together a dynamite second half, scoring 12 points in the latter 20 minutes to finish with team-highs of 16 points and eight boards on the afternoon. Young also hit all four of his free throws, including two in the final seconds, to help the Gators put the game away.

Significant stretch: Florida opened the second half with a 10-2 scoring stretch, taking advantage of four Tennessee turnovers to erase its seven-point halftime deficit and retake the lead 38-37 with 14:49 to play. The Gators would give up their lead again as they went back-and-forth with the Vols, but the 10-2 run helped UF regain its confidence after a difficult first half.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Gators pull away to top Vols 56-49, advance to 2014 SEC Tournament finals

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Gameday – 2014 SEC Tournament – Georgia Dome: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Location: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA [Capacity: 26,000]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ABC (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 108/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(1) FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Cuonzo Martin
Record: 30-2 Record: 21-11
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -7 | O/U: 125

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» The Gators won the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title earned the No. 1 overall seed in the SEC Tournament, earning two byes and playing its first game Friday in quarterfinal action. The championship is the program’s second-straight title, third in the last four seasons, seventh overall and fifth outright.
» The Volunteers advanced to the semifinals after pulling off a 59-44 victory over South Carolina on Friday.
» UF is 39-45 all-time in the SEC Tournament with a 24-14 record under Donovan and three-straight SEC Tournament Championships from 2005-07.
» Tennessee leads the all-time series against Florida 18-18, but the Gators are 18-18 against the Vols since Donovan took over. UT is also 4-3 against UF in SEC Tournament action, but Donovan helped Florida win its last such game against Tennessee in 2011.
» The Gators swept the regular-season series agains the Volunteers, defeating their Saturday opponent 67-41 at home on Jan. 25 and 67-58 on the road on Feb. 11.
» UF enters Saturday’s regular-season finale on a program-record 24-game winning streak and at 18-0 have set a school mark for most conference wins in a single season. Its 29 wins are also the most the Gators have captured in a single regular season. Florida has won 29 of its last 30 games.
» The Gators are the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in league play. UF is also the first team from a major conference, since Indiana in 1976, to go 18-0 in league play.
» Florida has gone two-straight seasons without losing at home, holding a 32-0 record since the start of the 2012-13 campaign (17-0 in conference games).
» The Gators have won nine-straight SEC road games, also a program record.
» Florida is 81-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 13-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. Florida is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators are 11-2 in true road games this campaign with both losses coming against ranked opponents during the first month of the season. Florida lost those contests by a combined seven points. UF is also 3-0 in neutral-site games this campaign.
» 2013-14 was the first time that Florida has ended the regular season ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Gators have achieved a No. 1 ranking in four separate seasons and currently hold a 20-5 record playing as the top team in the country.
» Florida’s senior class is the first in school history to win three SEC championships.

Continue Reading » Gameday – 2014 SEC Tournament – Georgia Dome: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers

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Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida upends Mizzou 72-49

Breaking free from a tie score at the break, the No. 1 Florida Gators (30-2) powered past the Missouri Tigers (22-11) on Friday afternoon, doubling up the lower seed in the second half on the way to a dominant 72-49 victory in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Florida got better and better over the latter 20 minutes, never trailing in the second period. UF ended the game with its largest lead (23 points) and extended its winning streaks to 24-straight games dating back to Dec. 2, 2013

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Pulling away and already up 14 with less than five minutes to play, sophomore guard Michael Frazier II drained a three on an assist from freshman PG Kasey Hill to push UF ahead 17 points with 4:20 remaining in the game. The lead had already been to be too much for the Tigers to overcome, but the Gators put the game away with Frazier’s well-timed triple.

Prominent players: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was dominant on Saturday, scoring 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three-point range, grabbing four steals, pulling down three rebounds and dishing two assists. Joining him with a terrific offensive effort was Frazier, who matched Wilbekin with 15 points while hitting 5-of-7 attempts from downtown. He added four boards and two steals of his own.

Significant stretch / Perfect play: With effort and tenacity, Florida exploded on a 12-0 run just when it needed it the most – up only two points midway through the second half . After senior forward Will Yeguete scored a layup, he called for the press on defense. Wilbekin immediately stole the ball on the ensuing inbounds play, saved it from going out of bounds on his deflection and moved beyond the arc where he hit a wide open a three. The Gators pushed their lead to 14 points with seven minutes left to play thanks in large part to another Wilbekin three.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida upends Mizzou 72-49

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Gameday – 2014 SEC Tournament – Georgia Dome: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Missouri Tigers

Location: Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA [Capacity: 26,000]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 108/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(1) FLORIDA GATORS MISSOURI TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Frank Haith
Record: 29-2 (18-0 SEC) Record: 22-10 (9-9 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -12 | O/U: 132

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» The Gators won the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title earned the No. 1 overall seed in the SEC Tournament, earning two byes and playing its first game Friday in quarterfinal action. The championship is the program’s second-straight title, third in the last four seasons, seventh overall and fifth outright.
» The Tigers advanced to the quarterfinals after pulling off a 91-83 double-overtime victory against Texas A&M on Thursday.
» UF is 38-45 all-time in the SEC Tournament with a 23-14 record under Donovan and three-straight SEC Tournament Championships from 2005-07.
» Florida is 2-1 all-time against Missouri, 1-0 during the 2013-14 season, topping Saturday’s opponent 68-58 on Feb. 4 in the O’Dome.
» UF enters Saturday’s regular-season finale on a program-record 23-game winning streak and at 19-0 have set a school mark for most conference wins in a single season. Its 29 wins are also the most the Gators have captured in a single season. Florida has won 28 of its last 29 games.
» The Gators are the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in league play. UF is also the first team from a major conference, since Indiana in 1976, to go 18-0 in league play.
» Florida has gone two-straight seasons without losing at home, holding a 32-0 record since the start of the 2012-13 campaign (17-0 in conference games).
» The Gators have won nine-straight SEC road games, also a program record.
» Florida is 80-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 13-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. Florida is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators are 11-2 in true road games this campaign with both losses coming against ranked opponents during the first month of the season. UF lost those contests by a combined seven points.
» 2013-14 was the first time that Florida has ended the regular season ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Gators have achieved a No. 1 ranking in four separate seasons and currently hold a 19-5 record playing as the top team in the country.
» Florida’s senior class is the first in school history to win three SEC championships.

Continue Reading » Gameday – 2014 SEC Tournament – Georgia Dome: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. Missouri Tigers

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3/13: Donovan discusses SEC Tournament loss

The No. 12/12 Florida Gators (26-7) fell in the championship game of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Sunday afternoon with a 70-54 thud to the No. 15/16 Kentucky Wildcats (25-8) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Florida head coach Billy Donovan and his players had plenty to say after the game as they prepared for the 2011 NCAA Tournament. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the post-game press conference.

QUOTES

Donovan on the overall performance: “It’s difficult to really shoot well for three straight days – for both teams. It wasn’t very pretty offensively, certainly not for us. We struggled. We had some things around the basket that we weren’t able to finish – we missed a lot of layups. We weren’t strong enough or physical enough around the basket.”

Donovan on free throw discrepancy (1 of 3):“There was such a huge discrepancy from the free throw line. Kentucky probably took the ball a little more physically than we did. The difference is we weren’t physical enough to get fouled as much as they were able to get fouled.”

Donovan on free throw discrepancy (2 of 3): “When someone takes 21 more free throws than you…that’s hard to overcome. […] We went to the free throw line eight times. I think that’s the lowest number of free throws attempted we’ve had all year long. We’ve been a team that’s gotten to the free throw line 24-25 times. That was very disappointing to me – the free throw line situation.”

Donovan on free throw discrepancy (3 of 3): “They did a better job attacking the basket and finding a way to get fouled. We did not do a good enough job finding a way to get fouled. If you’re not scoring, you have to find a way to get fouled. And we did not get fouled. The game was won at the free throw line in my opinion.”

Donovan on if a lesson was learned from the loss: “I’m proud of what these guys accomplished up until this point in time. There have been a lot of emotional games for us besides this tournament.”

Donovan on if he should have put the ball in the post sooner: “We tried to do that the whole game. Vernon Macklin had five turnovers in the game. I just didn’t think our frontcourt guys, when they got the ball, did very much with it.”

Donovan on the balance between frontcourt and backcourt:“We had the same level of balance offensively that we’ve had up until this point in time. Our frontcourt guys really did not have a productive game around the basket.”

Donovan on if Florida lacked chemistry: “Like anything else, there’s a level of frustration. They all want to do well. I don’t think it was too bad.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton on the offensive effort: “We were well-connected again tonight. The difference between tonight and other games was we just missed shots. We missed easy, easy layups around the rim and our jumpers were not falling. On nights like this, we just got to play more defense.”

Senior forward Chandler Parsons on if this was a blow to their collective confidence: “It hurts but we’ve been here before. We’re not going to hang our heads over one loss. Obviously we want to be on the other end, but you got to give credit to Kentucky. They played very well tonight.”

Parsons on if being tired hurt the team’s performance: “We’re definitely tired, but we can’t use that as an excuse on not executing. They’ve played just as many games as we have. Both teams are exhausted. We just have to play through it and fight better.”

Boynton on Kentucky’s length: “They have great length. [DeAndre] Liggins was on me the majority of the game. In situations like that, if we play a team like them, we just have to drive it to the rim more. If they come out to us, drive past them and go to the rim.”

Boynton on the technical foul: “Me and the ref basically had a misunderstanding. I was trying to walk away. He was calling my name and I was kind of ignoring him.”

Parsons on if UK surprised them at all: “We were very prepared on what they were going to do. I don’t think our defense was a problem.”

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No. 12 Florida falls flat as No. 16 Kentucky wins 2011 SEC Tournament in 70-54 rout

The weekend of slow starts and long stretches without scoring finally came back to bite the No. 12 Florida Gators (26-7), which fell to the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (25-8) 70-54 in the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship on Sunday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Florida scored their fewest points since Jan. 20 as Kentucky kept the pressure on and led the entire second half to win the 27th SEC Tournament title in school history. Guard Brandon Knight led the Wildcats with a game-high 17 points as four of five of his team’s starters scored in double figures.

Kentucky began the game with a high level of efficiency, going 6-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from downtown to take an early 14-5 lead. Florida responded with an 11-3 run including eight-straight points and two solid defensive plays from freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin to reduce their deficit to 17-16.

Moments later, the Gators took their first lead of the game, but the Wildcats erupted on a 9-0 run to go ahead 30-24. Florida failed to score for a 7:12 stretch as Kentucky capitalized and went into the break with a five-point lead built off of a major free throw attempt disparity (14-1) and UF’s numerous first-half turnovers (6) and fouls (9).

The Wildcats also started the second half with great energy, using an 8-0 run off of two Gators turnovers to take a 41-29 lead. Both teams went on a 5:11 scoreless stretch after that, but Kentucky G Darius Miller hit a big three-pointer to give his team a 14-point lead with 9:21 to left to play.

Florida scored five-straight to cut their deficit to eight, but Kentucky maintained their intensity to take a game-high 16-point lead with the clock winding down.

Forward Terrence Jones was the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer with 16 points. Miller was 6-for-8 from the field for 15 points, and G DeAndre Liggins scored 10 for UK. Jones and Liggins each went 7-of-8 from the line.

The free throw shooting and fouling disparity continued through the second half. The widely-panned officiating crew called seven additional fouls on UF and gave their opponent 21 more chances from the charity stripe (29-8) over the course of the game.

However, the Gators also committed 14 turnovers in the contest and only shot 38.6 percent from the floor even though they had eight more field goal attempts and six additional chances from beyond the arc.

Sophomore G Kenny Boynton scored 10 points and was the only Florida player to finish in double figures. Senior F Chandler Parsons contributed nine points and 10 rebounds but was 4-for-12 from the field and 0-for-4 from downtown. Junior PG Erving Walker added eight points but was also an inefficient 3-for-10 from the field.

Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin had the roughest afternoon of any Gators starter, only hitting three shots for seven points while managing just two rebounds and turning the ball over a season-high five times. Wilbekin didn’t score after putting up eight-straight points in the first half, and freshman C Patric Young wound up with four points and seven boards in 18 minutes of game action.

At the conclusion of the game, Boynton and Parsons were both honored with selections to the 2011 SEC All-Tournament Team. Miller was named the event’s MVP.

Florida must regroup as they await word on their position in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, which begins on Thursday. The Gators’ seed and opponent will be announced Sunday at 6 p.m. live on CBS.

Photo Credit: Dave Martin/Associated Press

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