11/21: Pain ahead for Gators, Donovan worried about Carter, Finney-Smith not with team

No. 8 Florida Gators basketball (2-1) needed overtime to edge the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (2-1) on Friday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. Injuries to a pair of key players depleted Florida’s depth chart, but the Gators were nevertheless able to come from 12 points down to defeat the Warhawks 61-56.

Head coach Billy Donovan met with the media after the game to discuss his high-level concerns about the Florida basketball team and two players who may be out for an extended period of time.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE GATORS?

Florida struggled mightily against Louisiana-Monroe, falling behind by 12 in the first half, needing a 15-0 run just to take a nine-point lead in the second half (despite UF being favored by 21 against ULM), coughing up an eight-point lead with last than two minutes remaining and barely squeaking by the visitors in overtime.

Donovan has repeated week after week that the Gators have a long way to go to be a truly capable and successful team this season, and he stuck with that opinion late Friday.

Continue Reading » 11/21: Pain ahead for Gators, Donovan worried about Carter, Finney-Smith not with team

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Fastbreak: Short-handed No. 8 Florida survives scare from ULM, wins 61-56 in overtime

No. 8 Florida Gators basketball (2-1) was forced to deal with a second-straight scare at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida, after blowing yet another halftime lead. The difference this time is that Florida was able to pull out a victory on Friday evening, edging the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (2-1) in overtime.

The Gators took down the Warhawks 61-56 despite UF being severely shorthanded with arguably the team’s two best players sitting out the entire contest.

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

It was over when (overtime edition): Tied 54-54, redshirt senior walk-on forward Jacob Kurtz found redshirt senior center Jon Horford open in the low post after a screen down for an easy two-handed dunk. On the ensuing possession, junior guard Michael Frazier II played tremendous one-on-one defense to force a poor shot and put sophomore point guard Kasey Hill on the line with 27.7 seconds remaining. Hill made both of his shots from the charity stripe to give the Gators a four-point lead, and following a layup and missed And1 attempt on the other end, drained another to push Florida’s advantage to five with 16.5 seconds left to play. Kurtz deflected Hill’s second free throw – a miss – off a ULM player to get UF another possession. Freshman PG Chris Chiozza responded by going to the line and making 1-of-2 free throws to ice the game.

Significant stretch: Down by 12 late in the first half, Florida took off on a 10-0 run to end the opening 20 minutes. The Gators extended that scoring stretch in the second half, using a 15-0 run to outscore the Warhawks 27-6 spanning halftime. UF took a game-high nine-point lead at 44-35 but would eventually give up that advantage.

Second half head-scratcher: For the second-straight game, Florida blew a late lead by allowing ULM to score the last eight points of the second half to tie the contest 51-51 and force overtime. The Warhawks made two free throws and then drained consecutive threes, the second a wide-open look with 21 seconds remaining, to erase the Gators’ hard-earned lead and move the game into an extra period.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Short-handed No. 8 Florida survives scare from ULM, wins 61-56 in overtime

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The Fastbreak: Rodriguez explodes late, sends Miami to 69-67 upset of No. 8 Florida Gators

It all came crashing down for the No. 8 Florida Gators (1-1) on Monday as the Miami Hurricanes (2-0) exploded on a late 18-1 run and ultimately used 20 points scored by a single player in the final 6:47 of the contest to defeat their hosts 69-67 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

With the loss, the Gators ended their program-record 33-game home winning streak, which was the second-longest active streak in the nation and dated back to Nov. 11, 2012. Florida also lost its 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents that dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Monday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Florida and Miami were tied at 65 when redshirt junior guard Eli Carter rounded the foul line and drove to the rack, converting a layup to put the Gators ahead 67-65 with 1:03 to play. Hurricanes point guard Angel Rodriguez missed a three on the ensuing possession, but Miami got the ball back, called a timeout and set up for another shot. Rodriguez squared off with Florida sophomore PG Kasey Hill, crossed him over beyond the arc and drained a dagger three to push UM ahead with 18 seconds to play. Carter was called for an offensive charging foul (taken by Rodriguez) on UF’s next possession, Rodriguez made 1-of-2 foul shots after he was sent to the line, and an off-balance three shot by Gators junior G Michael Frazier II clanged off the rim at the buzzer.

Significant stretch: Erasing a double-digit lead Florida held most of the game, Miami erupted on an 18-1 run late in the second half – courtesy of four-straight treys, including three-in-a-row by Rodriguez – and took a three-point lead with 3:25 to play following four-straight made foul shots. A big three-pointer by Gators redshirt senior center Jon Horford ended the long Canes run and tied the game, with a second three by Horford moments later keeping UF in the contest.

Prominent players: Rodriguez made five threes – including the game winner – and scored 20 total points in the final 6:47 of the contest. He finished with a game-high 24 on 7-of-14 shooting, draining 5-of-8 from long range. For Florida, Horford made two late threes that kept the Gators in the contest following the devastating Canes run. He finished 5-of-9 from the field (3-for-6 beyond the arc, 4-for-4 from the charity stripe) for 17 points, adding seven boards to his stat line.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » The Fastbreak: Rodriguez explodes late, sends Miami to 69-67 upset of No. 8 Florida Gators

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Gameday: No. 8 Florida Gators vs. Miami


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

TV: ESPNU (Mark Jones, Stan Heath)
Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 136/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 8 FLORIDA GATORS MIAMI HURRICANES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jim Larranaga
Record: 1-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast

Odds: Florida -8.5 | O/U 130

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Story: Dorian Finney-Smith suffers hairline fractures in hand, cleared to play
Notebook: Dillon Graham decides to transfer

MUST-READ PRIMER: Can the Gators keep it going with a rebuilt starting five?

Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 8 Florida Gators vs. Miami

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Fastbreak: Florida works William & Mary 68-45

No. 7 Florida Gators basketball opened the 2014-15 season on Friday evening, hosting the William & Mary Tribe at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gators took down the Tribe 68-45, winning their 24th consecutive season-opening game and improving to 19-0 in such games under Donovan. UF also extended its home winning streak to 33 games, the longest such streak in program history, which is also tied for the longest active streak in the nation.

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

It was over when: Florida held an insurmountable halftime lead but still had its share of struggles in the second period. With five minutes left to play, freshmen point guard Chris Chiozza and forward Devin Robinson hooked up on a pair of plays that pushed the Gators’ lead up to 26. Chiozza first hit Robinson for an alley-oop. On the very next possession, Chiozza took off on a fastbreak, finding Robinson under the basket for a layup that put UF ahead 63-37 with 4:45 to play. Chiozza did it all with four points (2-of-2 shooting) with three assists and two rebounds, while Robinson went 4-for-9 from the field with four boards and a late block.

Prominent player: Redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith sprained his left wrist early in the contest but returned after a short trip to the locker room and wound up as Florida’s top performer on Friday. Finney-Smith scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, hitting all four of his free throws and adding five boards to boot. He netted five-straight as part of a 7-0 UF run in the second half and scored nine of the Gators’ first 13 points in the later period. He left the court late in the second half but most likely as a precaution.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida works William & Mary 68-45

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Donovan: No. 7 Gators undeserving of ranking

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Wednesday, two days before his team opens the 2014-16 regular season against the William & Mary Tribe on Friday, Nov. 14 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

NOT EVEN REMOTELY CLOSE

Ahead of last season, Donovan chastised the Gators, going out of his way to say that Florida was nowhere near as good as advertised. Twelve months later, his attitude has not changed all that much. Is UF the seventh-best team in the country? “No, not even remotely close,” he said Wednesday.

“We’ve talked a lot about that from the perspective of… I know what those kinds of teams look like, and we’re not one of those teams,” Donovan added.

Did Donovan say the same thing last year about a team that wound up advancing to the Final Four for the first time in seven seasons? You bet. Does that mean that he recognizes his standard annual pessimism? Not one bit, because every season is different and this year’s issues are different than those that the Gators had in 2013-14.

Continue Reading » Donovan: No. 7 Gators undeserving of ranking

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2014-15 Florida basketball primer: Can the Gators keep it going with a rebuilt starting five?

Despite losing four senior starters to graduation, Florida Gators basketball will enter the 2014-15 season as the consensus No. 7 team in the nation, coming off its return to the Final Four for the first time since 2006-07.

Florida finished the 2013-14 campaign with a program-best 36-3 record, winning a program-record 30-straight games at one point and dropping its three contests to a pair of opponents including twice to eventual national champion UConn. UF beat Kentucky thrice (including in the finals of the 2014 SEC Tournament), became the first SEC team to finish 18-0 in league play (21-0 including the SEC Tournament), and went undefeated (17-0) in the friendly confines of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

The Gators also captured their second-straight SEC regular-season crown and swept both SEC championship titles for just the second time in program history (2007).

Though none of Florida’s four seniors were selected in the 2014 NBA Draft, three were given tryouts with NBA teams and center Patric Young caught on with the New Orleans Pelicans as an undrafted free agent.

Head coach Billy Donovan, entering his 19th year with the program coming off his third SEC Coach of the Year award in four seasons, will look to lead UF to at least the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth-straight season. He brings two new transfers and one of the nation’s best recruiting classes into the fold, though not all of the players will be available this season.

Here’s what Donovan (451-169, 195-100 SEC) has to work with as the Gators prepare for their exhibition game on Thursday evening in Gainesville, Florida.

Continue Reading » 2014-15 Florida basketball primer: Can the Gators keep it going with a rebuilt starting five?

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Kasey Hill still growing, preparing to step in at point guard for Florida Gators

Photo Credit: ESPN Images

It is rare for a freshman to start right out of the gate for the Florida Gators but that is exactly what point guard Kasey Hill did last season as he flashed explosiveness and potential in place of Scottie Wilbekin, who was suspended for the first six games of the 2013-14 campaign due to a violation of team rules.

Unfortunately for Hill, he only got four starts to himself to begin the season, as an ankle injury he suffered against Southern put him on the shelf for two weeks. By the time Hill returned to the court, Wilbekin was firmly entrenched again as Florida’s starter, but Hill nevertheless averaged 21 minutes per game over his final 28 contests (he missed four more games due to a groin injury).

With Wilbekin one of four seniors no longer with the program, and Hill easily the most experienced and talented point guard remaining on the Gators’ roster, the sophomore will have no questions about his role with the team this season.

Continue Reading » Kasey Hill still growing, preparing to step in at point guard for Florida Gators

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