Fastbreak: Florida embarrassed in second half as No. 11 Kansas battles back to win 71-65

No. 24 Florida Gators basketball (3-4) absolutely collapsed in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, blowing an 18-point lead and falling 71-65 to the No. 11/11 Kansas Jayhawks (6-1) in the 2014 SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

The Gators are now under .500 through seven games for the first time since 1998.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: The biggest scoring stretch of the game – a 23-3 run with 18 points combined by Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden Jr. – included four Florida turnovers and the visitors going 1-for-10 from the field; it lasted 7:53 and gave Kansas a 60-52 lead with 3:21 to play. Overall, the Jayhawks outscored the Gators by 21 points in the second half with UF at one point failing to hit a field goal for 7:37.

Significant stretches: With the Gators leading by a game-high 18 points, the Jayhawks got right back in the contest with a 9-0 run that cut KU’s deficit to single digits with about 14 minutes left in the game. It allowed Kansas to hang in long enough to end the game with its incredible scoring stretch as Florida melted down at Allen Fieldhouse.

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida embarrassed in second half as No. 11 Kansas battles back to win 71-65

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Gameday: No. 24 Florida Gators at #11 Kansas Jayhawks – Donovan talks team, previews KU


Event: 2014 SEC-Big 12 Challenge
Location: Allen Fieldhouse – Lawrence, Kansas [Capacity: 16,300]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Jon Sciambi, Dick Vitale, Holly Rowe)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network Affiliates

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 24 FLORIDA GATORS No. 11 KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bill Self
Record: 3-3 Record: 5-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12

Odds: Florida +8 | O/U 125

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Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule

Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule was officially announced on Friday when the Southeastern Conference released its full league schedule for next season.

The Gators will face at least four (but up to six) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while participating in special non-conference events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC/Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida.

Florida will face Georgetown in its opening Battle 4 Atlantis game. Other potential opponents over the final two rounds include Butler, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

UF also takes on Kansas in an SEC/Big 12 Challenge rematch in Lawrence, Kansas. Last season, the Gators took down the Jayhawks 67-61 in Gainesville.

Florida meets Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic and links up again with UConn in non-conference action for the third time in the last two seasons.

The Huskies were one of two teams to beat the Gators during the 2013-14 season, winning 65-64 on a buzzer beater in Stoors, Connecticut, on Dec. 2 and 63-53 during the Final Four in Arlington, Texas. This year, UConn travels to Gainesville.

In-state rivalry games at home against Miami (Nov. 17) and on the road at Florida State (Dec. 30) also highlight UF’s non-conference slate.

The Gators open their 18-game SEC schedule on the road at South Carolina before playing consecutive home games against Mississippi State and Auburn. Florida plays its permanent rival, Kentucky, twice this season but will also take on LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in home-and-away games.

The Gators and Wildcats will meet twice on Saturday; the first game could wind up hosting ESPN College GameDay, while the second is the regular-season finale for both teams.

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TWO BITS: Tebow to interview Driskel, Kansas set

1 » The SEC Network on Tuesday announced that the channel will kick off with a three-hour edition of SEC Now that will feature a number of segments of interest to Florida Gators fans. Starting at 6 p.m., the show will open with an essay featuring 31 familiar Southeastern Conference voices including former Florida swimmer Dara Torres. The program will then air live from the network’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Dari Nowkhah and Maria Taylor hosting the program. As part of the broadcast, SEC Now will have “live whip around reporting” from all 14 schools with former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore live in Gainesville, Florida. (Tebow, of course, will serve as an analyst on SEC Nation during the season.) While on campus, Tebow will have a sit-down interview with Florida redshirt junior QB Jeff Driskel (likely taped earlier in the day). The Gators and head coach Will Muschamp will also be featured as one of three programs in all-access segments with an exclusive look at spring practice. The program will air until 9 p.m., at which point the network will debut its latest SEC Storied documentary, “The Stars are Aligned.”

If fans would like to participate in the broadcast, UF announced Wednesday that they can be a part of live shots featuring Tebow and Tessitore at 6:05 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. outside the Heavener Football Complex next to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

RELATED: First two weeks of the SEC Network’s schedule

2 » ESPN announced on Tuesday details of Florida basketball’s showdown with the Kansas Jayhawks as part of the 2014 SEC/Big 12 Challenge. UF and KU will square off on Friday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. in the featured game of a doubleheader set to air on ESPN. Florida took down Kansas 67-61 in the first challenge in 2013, so the Jayhawks will certainly be looking for some revenge on their home court.

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Florida to face Kansas in SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 non-conference schedule is taking shape after information was released on Wednesday about its opponent for the second annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. It was announced that Florida will face the Kansas Jayhawks for the second-straight season, traveling to Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, on Friday, Dec. 5 for the showdown between two major programs.

The Gators played the Jayhawks last season for the first time since 2006 and came away with a 67-61 win at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. UF’s trip to face KU in Lawrence will be its first since 1994.

A total of 10 games will be played as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge from Dec. 3-6, all of which will air on ESPN networks and be available for live streaming both online and on mobile devices. Seeing as the SEC has four more member institutions than the Big 12, not every school is scheduled to play in the event.

Florida has not yet released its complete 2014-15 non-conference schedule, but a variety of other match-ups have already been confirmed.

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12/10: Florida vs. Kansas post-game report

The No. 19 Florida Gators (7-2) held on for hard-fought 67-61 victory over the No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL in the final game of the Big 12-SEC Challenge despite facing heavy resistance from the visitors in the second half. Head coach Billy Donovan met with the media following the game to discuss Florida’s most notable victory of the young season.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 2-1 against Kansas under Donovan, though the Jayhawks still lead 3-2 in the all-time series against the Gators.
» UF improved to 5-4 against top 25-ranked opponents dating back to last season with all five wins coming inside the O’Dome.
» Florida has now won 22-straight non-conference games in the House of Horrors and 21 consecutive home games overall, the second-longest streak in school history.
» The Gators are now 61-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is already 3-2 in single-digit decisions this season after going 0-6 in contests decided by fewer than 10 points in 2012-13. Six of UF’s eight losses last year were by six points or less, a constant black mark on the campaign.
» Tuesday night’s game was sold out with a listed attendance of 12,423.
» Despite the Gators’ thrilling victory, the SEC had already lost the Big 12-SEC Challenge before the game even started. The Big 12 held a 6-2 advantage heading into Tuesday’s contest and now leads 6-3. Oklahoma and Texas A&M will play the final game of the challenge on Saturday, Dec. 21.
» According to The Gainesville Sun, UF and KU may have a return showdown next season in Lawrence, KS.
» About two dozen scouts were in attendance at the game.

DYNAMIC DUO

The Gators played their best half of the season in the first 20 minutes of Tuesday’s game, and it just so happened to be the first time that both of their point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill were able to play in the same rotation and on the court simultaneously.

Wilbekin posted a career-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 36 minutes but what he did elsewhere was even more impressive. He played lock down defense at times, much of it in the frontcourt (more on that below) while dishing six dimes and picking up four steals. It was quite a turnaround from his lackluster performance in the second half at UConn, a game in which he shot 6-of-14 and committed three costly turnovers.

“He always plays really hard. He gives me great effort all the time,” explained Donovan. “I didn’t think he played very well at UConn. He really, really struggled, had some turnovers late when we had a seven or eight-point lead, made some poor decisions, missed some shots. I thought he struggled in that game. I think having a week off and maybe missing a couple days and having three days to get ready for this game, I think he was eager to play well and knew that maybe the UConn game was a game that we had every opportunity to win and maybe it slipped away there a little bit from us at the end. I think, for him, he was pretty focused on wanting to come back and play better [Tuesday].”

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Fastbreak: Florida holds on to top Kansas 67-61

The No. 19 Florida Gators (7-2) scored their most prominent win of the young season on Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, holding on for a hard-fought 67-61 victory over the No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) in the final game of the 2013 Big-12 SEC Challenge.

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

It was over when: Kansas committed its 24th turnover of the game with 45.3 seconds remaining, giving Florida the ball back with a six-point lead. Senior forward Casey Prather got fouled on the ensuing offensive possession, headed to the line and hit two free throws to put UF up eight with 37.1 seconds left. Though KU cut its deficit to four points, Prather hit 10-of-12 free throws in the second half to propel his team to victory. He scored 12 points and grabbed a team-high eight boards.

Prominent player: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was a firecracker for the Gators all night, playing superb basketball in the first half and seemingly finding a way to put the ball in the basket every time the Jayhawks threatened in the latter 20 minutes. He handled the rock like a dream and played terrific defense, too, finishing with a team-highs of six assists, four steals and, oh yeah, 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Standout stat: Florida dominated all phases of the game in the first half, leading by 18 at one point and taking a 15-point advantage into the break. The Gators accomplished this by outrebounding their opponents 11-4 on the offensive glass. Florida also forced Kansas to commit 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, matching a season-high the visitors had registered in an entire game. KU fought back in the second half by “only” coughing it up eight times and grabbing four more offensive rebounds than UF.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
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Gameday: No. 19 Florida Gators vs. No. 13 Kansas

Event: Big 12/SEC Challenge
Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(19) FLORIDA GATORS (13) KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bill Self
Record: 6-2 Record: 6-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big 12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3 | O/U 138

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Buzzer beatings: Florida and Kansas each got handed tough losses in their last games as the Gators and Jayhawks both fell on buzzer beaters in a six-day span. UConn topped UF 65-64 on Monday, while Colorado beat KU 75-72.
» The Jayhawks are 3-1 in their all-time series against the Gators, but Florida is 1-1 against Kansas under Donovan.
» UF is 4-4 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all four losses coming away from its home court.
» Florida has won 21-straight non-conference games in the O’Dome and 20 consecutive home games overall, the second-longest streak in school history.
» One-third of the Gators’ 2013-14 schedule thus far has been against top 25-ranked opponents. The Jayhawks are the third such team UF has faced this season.
» Florida is 60-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF’s defense has started off allowing just 60.0 points per game through eight contests, making it the stingiest in the SEC; no opponent has scored more than 69.
» The Gators have already used five different starting lineups through eight games. Only two players – seniors forward Casey Prather and center Patric Young – have started every contest thus far.
» 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.
» Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts was on Donovan’s staff during the 2011-12 season that resulted in the team advancing to the Elite Eight.

Read the rest of the Florida-Kansas gameday preview…after the break!

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