SIX BITS: SEC titles, softball sweep, gymnastics

1 » No. 3 Florida Gators women’s track and field won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Indoor Championship Sunday, its first since the 2004 season. Scoring 110 total points, the team was led by junior Charlotte Browning and senior Shara Proctor, who were named co-winners of the Cliff Harper Trophy for the SEC’s high-points scorer. The men’s team finished second at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, AR, as the home team Arkansas Razorbacks beat them out for the men’s crown 123-119. Both the women’s and men’s teams also captured numerous individual SEC titles over the weekend.

2 » No. 3/11 Gators softball (12-1) swept the Northwestern State Lady Demons (8-5) 15-0, 5-0 and 10-1 over the weekend at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Sophomore outfielder Michelle Moultrie powered Florida’s offense by going 5-8 (.625) with a double, triple, home run and six RBI, while junior OF Kelsey Bruder joined her with similar 5-8 performance for four runs, two homers, six RBI and 11 total bases. Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (10-1) won each game of the series, striking out a combined 13 and only allowing three walks.

Read four more BITS on gymnastics, lacrosse, men’s tennis and Senior Day…
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TWO BITS: Four more SEC titles, women fall to UK

Opening BIT » Congratulations to forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks for a career-high 31 points in his 200th NBA game on Wednesday! “In the fourth quarter, I looked up at the scoreboard and I was pretty excited about it,” Horford said. “Obviously, I’m more concerned about winning. But when you’re able to do something like that individually, it always feels good.”

1 » Coming through with two titles, one Southeastern Conference record and one school record on the first day of competition, Florida Gators swimming and diving completed its second of four days of competition in the 2010 SEC Championships by taking home three more individual conference titles as well as a relay title. Junior Conor Dwyer and seniors Shaune Fraser and Gemma Spofforth all won individual SEC Championships, while the Gators women’s 200 free relay team defended its title. Florida now has six SEC titles in the first two days of the meet. The Gators men’s and women’s teams each led their respective fields going into Thursday’s events; however, both fell to second by the time the day was over. UF also achieved numerous NCAA qualifying times throughout the day. Day three of the SEC Championships begins Friday at 10 a.m. from the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia.
Men: Auburn (291 points), Florida (282), Georgia (205)
Women: Georgia (300 points), Florida (266), Auburn (248)

2 » While the men’s team bounced back with a win Thursday against Auburn after suffering consecutive losses, Florida women’s basketball (13-13, 6-7 SEC) fell to their third-straight ranked opponent on the road against the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (22-4, 10-3 SEC) in the Memorial Coliseum. A three-pointer by senior guard Lonnika Thompson with 9:04 remaining in the game brought the Gators within two points of the Wildcats (47-45), but Florida would allow Kentucky to outscore them 30-6 in the remaining time to pull off a 77-51 victory. Dooming the Gators were 23 turnovers and poor defense – the Wildcats shot 66.7 percent from the floor. Florida will try to bounce back against another ranked opponent, the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs, who they host in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sun., Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2.

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FOUR BITS: McCray’s ring, Sunday sports wrap

1 » On Sunday, New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray became the 13th former Florida Gators football player to win a Super Bowl as his team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Miami, FL. The Saints’ starting defensive end, McCray totaled two tackles and a quarterback hurry during Super Bowl XLIV. He is the first former Gators defensive player to win a ring since DE Kevin Carter did it with the St. Louis Rams in 2000 (Super Bowl XXXIV).

2 » While most of the country was focused on the Super Bowl, the Florida women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-4 SEC) was in Gainesville, FL, hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-9, 6-5 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators kept it close all game, eventually pulling out a hard-earned 80-78 double-overtime victory. Senior guard Lonnika Thompson scored all of her 11 points in overtime while classmates G Steffi Sorensen and forward Sharielle Smith each recorded double-doubles. Redshirt sophomore G Jordon Jones was responsible for the game-winning free throws with only 2.7 seconds left to lift Florida for the win.

3 » Following in the footsteps of their male counterparts, the No. 7 Gators women’s tennis team (5-0) completed a sweep at home over the weekend. The Florida women took on and defeated the Troy Trojans 7-0 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. No. 13-ranked freshman Allie Will and No. 81-ranked senior Marrit Boonstra each won their singles matches and combined as the No. 26 doubles duo to take the event’s first doubles match 8-1.

4 » The Florida club cycling team took home the annual Swamp Classic in Gainesville, FL, on Sunday. Called “one of the most dominant teams in the nation,” by The Gainesville Sun, the Gators group seemingly dominated the event from start-to-finish. For more, read Ray FItzGerald’s report here.

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SIX BITS: Dungy on Tebow, Jaguars, weekend

1 » Former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and current NFL analyst for NBC Tony Dungy continues to stand behind former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and believes he will succeed at the next level. “I know a lot of people are saying he will play another position and he might, but I think he’s going to be a great leader, a winner, and I think some team is going to take him and tailor their offense to the special qualities he has,” Dungy told George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel. “I think he’s going to be a fantastic player in the NFL. If I am a coach, I say to myself: ‘I’ve got a special, unique talent and I am going to structure my team a little differently to take advantage of that.’ People are starting to do that. Tennessee did that with Vince Young and was very successful. I think somebody is going to do it. [...] Tim won a lot of games in high school, a lot of games at the University of Florida and my belief is that he will win if he gets with the right team in the NFL.”

2 » Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith told The Florida Times-Union that his team’s experiment with the 3-4 defense is over. Part of the reason for the change is a belief of Smith in former Gators defensive end Derrick Harvey, who only had two sacks in 2009. “The third year is usually a defining year for what you’re going to become,” Smith said as he indicated that Harvey will begin camp as the starting left end. Former Florida safety Reggie Nelson, who had an outstanding rookie campaign but has since floundered with the Jaguars, may be cut if he does not show significant improvement throughout training camp.

Women’s basketball, lacrosse and men’s & women’s tennis after the jump!
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Parsons’ buzzer-beater drops N.C. State in OT

Down two with 2.6 seconds left on the clock in overtime and N.C. State Wolfpack guard Farnold Degand on the line ready to shoot his second free throw, the Florida Gators‘ hopes of winning a big out-of-conference game on the road looked dashed. Instead, Degand missed his shot, Florida junior forward Chandler Parsons grabbed the rebound, took two dribbles and threw up a 75-foot buzzer-beating, game-winning three-pointer to give the Gators (11-3) a much-needed 62-61 overtime victory in Raleigh, NC, at the RBC Center.

“It feels like a fantasy,” Parsons said while trying to gain perspective shortly after the game. “I’m waiting for someone to pinch me to wake me up. I’d by lying to you if I said I thought it was going to go in. It was pure luck. But I’m happy I was able to help my team and I was happy we were able to get out of here with the win. North Carolina State is a good team and they are going to have a great season. To be able to pull this out in front of their fans, with that crowd, it’s huge for us.”

One of Florida’s most consistent players this season, Parsons’ remarkable trey was his first made field goal of the game. The entire Gators squad struggled from beyond the arc yet again, shooting a combined 2-of-23 from three before Parsons’ final attempt. UF missed its first 13 three-point attempts and even rimmed out another that would have won the game in regulation.

Florida was within three numerous times at the end of overtime, but N.C. State (10-4) head coach Sidney Lowe directed his team to foul sophomore point guard Erving Walker before he could hoist up a three, limiting his ability to tie the game or take the lead. The Wolfpack missed four free throws in the final 38 seconds of overtime, allowing the Gators to stay in the game even with their poor shooting down the stretch.

Redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin led Florida with 14 points while Walker posted 13 of his own. Junior forward Alex Tyus added 11 points in the contest, his fifth-straight game with double-figure points. Tyus also led the Gators with seven rebounds, while Parsons and freshman guard Kenny Boynton each contributed six boards. For N.C. State, star F Tracy Smith scored 21 points and G Javier Gonzalez added 13 of his own, eight of which were in overtime.

Florida hopes to continue their lucky streak when they open Southeastern Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 9 at noon in Nashville, TN, against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game will air live on ESPN.

Women’s basketball (8-6) also took home a road win Sunday, toppling the Alabama Crimson Tide 59-53 in both teams’ conference opener. Senior G Lonnika Thompson and sophomore C Azania Stewart led the Gators with 12 points each.

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