Gameday – 2014 NCAA Tournament – Memphis, TN: (1) Florida Gators vs. (4) UCLA Bruins

Location: FedEx Forum – Memphis, TN [Capacity: 18,119]
Time: 9:45 p.m. EDT (or 30 minutes after the conclusion of Stanford-Dayton)

TV: CBS (Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore, Reggie Miller, Rachel Nichols)
SiriusXM: 92/190 | Radio: [Westwood One]
Online Video: March Madness Live | Mobile Video: March Madness Live app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

See the Game in Person: Sweet 16 Tickets

(1) FLORIDA GATORS (4) UCLA BRUINS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Steve Alford
Record: 34-2 Record: 28-8
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5 | O/U: 137

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Florida is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history, holding a 8-0 record overall with that seed winning the national title the previous time it held the ranking entering the tournament (2007).
» The Gators won the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title for the second-straight year and third time in the last four seasons. UF then went on to win the 2014 SEC Tournament Championship for the first time since 2007.
» The Bruins earned the right to play in the Sweet 16 by defeating (12) Stephen F. Austin 77-60 in the Round of 32 on Sunday.
» Florida has played 56 games in 19 NCAA Tournament appearances, holding a 40-16 all-time in the event. The Gators have played 44 of those 56 games under Donovan, going 33-11 in those contests over 15 NCAA Tournaments.
» UF is 7-2 in Sweet 16 games all-time, 6-1 under Donovan with six-straight victories that advanced the program to the Elite Eight (2000, 2006, 2007, 2011-13). Florida has not failed to advance to the Elite Eight while playing in a Sweet 16 game since 1999. In its last six NCAA Tournament appearances, the Gators have won back-to-back national championships (2006-07) and advanced to three-straight Elite Eights (2011-13).
» Florida is 3-0 all-time against UCLA with all three games played since 2006 in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators defeated the Bruins for the 2006 national title, in the 2007 Final Four and in the Round of 32 in 2011.
» UF enters Thursday’s fourth-round game on a program-record 28-game winning streak with victories in 33 of its last 34 games.
» The Gators are 85-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 15-2 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.
» Florida is 7-0 in neutral-site games this season.
» The Gators are 24-5 playing as the top team in the country.
» Florida won 30+ games prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and can set a school record for most wins in a season by winning two more games and advancing to the Final Four.

Continue Reading » Gameday – 2014 NCAA Tournament – Memphis, TN: (1) Florida Gators vs. (4) UCLA Bruins

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Five-star PF Anthony Bennett eliminates Florida

Believed by many to be the front-runner for his services, the Florida Gators were eliminated on Friday from the recruitment of five-star power forward Anthony Bennett (Henderson, NV) , the player told Scout.com’s Evan Daniels.

Bennett, who had Florida in his final four along with Kentucky, Oregon and UNLV, recently paid unofficial visits to the other three schools. He previously said that he would take official visits to his final three schools before making a decision but surprisingly UF did not make the cut despite being expected to receive his final visit.

The No. 7 overall recruit in the country and one of head coach Billy Donovan’s primary targets in 2012, Bennett was expected by most to eventually join the Gators basketball team. Florida is in need of impact frontcourt players and Bennett spoke highly about the opportunity to compete day-in and day-out against sophomore center Patric Young.

However, SNY.tv‘s Adam Zagoria reports that Bennett’s decision was affected by freshman guard Bradley Beal entering the 2012 NBA Draft, according to the co-founder of Bennett’s AAU team CIA Bounce.

“The bottom line is when Bradley Beal committed and decided he was going off to the draft, he and AB were pretty tight,” Mike George said. “The main reason he was considering going there was to play with Bradley. They were pretty close. Bradley took the lead on recruiting him. The second thing obviously for AB is he just wants to be in a position where he wants to enjoy his experience and he wants to be one of the main focal points of what’s going on. Florida has Erik Murphy coming back. He’s a senior and probably is going to dominate the minutes. They also have Patric Young coming back. He loves Coach Donovan and loves the staff. They’re good people.”

Instead, Donovan misses out on yet another prominent forward and could switch his focus to unranked center Bradley Hayes (Jacksonville, FL). Also a 2012 recruit, Hayes has not made a commitment as he is still surveying his options. He does not yet have a scholarship offer from UF (due to the team having just one available) and is not guaranteed to receive one with Bennett out of the picture.

The Gators are also courting transfer PF Damontre Harris, who plans to leave South Carolina at the end of the semester and join a new team for the 2012-13 season. He is strongly considering Florida and Kansas, according to CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman, but could also return to USC should he find that the grass is not greener elsewhere.

Harris averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while playing 25.9 minutes per game last season. He would be forced to redshirt next year but would have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2013-14.

Though Florida already has four players committed as part of their 2012 class – four-stars point guard Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) and G Michael Frazier (Montverde, FL) and three-stars G Dillon Graham (Orlando, FL) and F DeVon Walker (Winter Haven, FL) – Donovan has missed out on a number of other top-ranked forwards this cycle including five-stars Kyle Anderson (Jersey City, NJ) and Alex Poythress (Clarksville, TN) and four-star Ricardo Gathers (Reserve, LA).

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Brice Johnson spurns Florida for UNC

Recently thought to be favoring the Florida Gators, four-star power forward Brice Johnson (Cordova, SC) surprised some Wednesday morning by committing to play for the North Carolina Tar Heels in 2012.

Johnson, who visited Florida in early October and also had N.C. State and Clemson in his final four, is the No. 49 player nationally according to Rivals.

He is the second player in as many months to have the Gators in his final four but pass them over in order to play for another top program. Five-star point guard Kyle Anderson (Jersey City, NJ), picked UCLA over Florida in September.

The Gators already have three commitments for 2012 including four-stars PG Braxton Ogbueze (Charlotte, NC) and shooting guard Michael Frazier (Montverde, FL) as well as three-star SG Dillon Graham (Orlando, FL). Florida would like to add a frontcourt player before closing out the recruiting class.

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Top recruits visiting the Gators on Saturday

Southeastern Conference play begins for the No. 16/17 Florida Gators football team on Saturday as they take on the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL but another type of competition also will be going on off the field. Both the football and basketball teams will be hosting some of the top recruits in the country in what stands to be one of the biggest in-season recruiting weekends of the year.

Plenty of Florida’s 2012 commits will be on campus to watch the game, but also hosted are players that the Gators hope to grab verbal commitments from sooner than later.

From a football standpoint, four-star offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty of Pittsburgh, PA (who is said to have Florida as his leader) is the headliner, while four-star defensive end Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, FL) and Gainesville native three-star cornerback Chris Bivins will also be taking in the game even though the latter is committed to South Florida. Bivins does not hold an official UF offer as of press time.

The Gators will also have some 2013 recruits at the game, most notably running backs Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) and Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL) as well as wide receiver Richard Benjamin (Tampa, FL), safety Leon McQuay (Seffner, FL) and cornerback J.J. Green (Kingsland, GA). If two of those names sound familiar, it is because Kelvin is the son of Fred Taylor and J.J. is the nephew of Jacquez Green.

The weekend may turn out to be even more important for the basketball team, which will have two big-time recruits on campus.

Five-star point guard Kyle Anderson (Jersey City, NJ) is the No. 2 player in the nation according to Rivals and will be on campus for an official visit. Florida desperately wants Anderson and many believe it will come down to a two-horse race between UF and Seton Hall.

Readers of OGGOA have informed us that there are plans to make signs during the football game in hopes that Anderson recognizes them and how badly the fans want him on campus next season. He is planning to commit on his birthday, Sept. 20, and the reptiles are happy to have him take a visit close to that date.

Also stopping by for visit is a top-ranked player at a position the Gators desperately need to fill. Four-star 2012 center Willie Cauley (Olathe, Kansas) stands 7’0” and weighs in at 225 lbs. The No. 6 center and 39th best player in the country per Rivals, Cauley is down to a final five of Florida, Alabama, Kansas State, Kentucky and Oklahoma. He wants to make a decision during the early signing period.

The future of Gators football and basketball could receive a huge boost if some of Saturday’s visits turn into commitments for Florida going forward.

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