Florida baseball ends skid, routs FAMU, FAU

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

Despite riding a wave of momentum (and an 11-2 record over the previous 13 games) into their latest weekend series, Florida Gators baseball (27-23, 12-12 SEC) failed its toughest test yet as it was swept on the road while taking on the No. 3 LSU Tigers (43-6, 19-5 SEC). Yet while Florida struggled away from home, the Gators got back into the swing of things as it closed its non-conference schedule this week with a pair of dominant wins over in-state opponents.

LSU snapped Florida’s streak of three-straight SEC series wins, taking all three games over the weekend in Baton Rogue, LA.

In the series opener, the Gators battled but came out on the short end of a 3-2 decision. Tigers ace Aaron Nola silenced his opponent’s bats and tossed his fourth-consecutive complete game in a 5-0 victory that clinched the series for the home team on Friday. Florida tried seven different pitchers in the series finale but none of them could contain LSU in what would eventually become a 18-6 blowout and series sweep.

The ESPNU Thursday Night Game of the Week creates a dilemma for SEC managers. Do you start your ace in game one or let him go Friday night (game two) to keep him in his regular routine? Tigers coach Paul Mainieri saved his top starter, Nola, for Friday, but Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan opted to go with his ace, junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford, in Thursday’s series opener. Crawford (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) did enough to keep Florida in the game but struggled with his command, only throwing 56 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

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Murphy’s career game helps Florida blow out LSU

It may have taken a few minutes for the one-seed to get going on Friday, but a lights-out performance by senior forward Erik Murphy helped the No. 11/13 Florida Gators make quick work of the nine-seed LSU Tigers in the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN.

Murphy’s dominant performance – including career-highs in points (27), rebounds (12) and made three-pointers (five) – fueled Florida (25-6) to an 80-58 victory over LSU (19-12). The Gators advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament and will face either four-seed Alabama or five-seed Tennessee on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“Shots were falling today. I felt good,” he said. “Whether the ball goes in the basket or not is out of your control. Coach has actually been saying just give good reps this week. Every rep in a good rep, whether it’s in game or practice. I try to do that.”

After tweaking his right knee in practice during the week, Murphy started Friday’s game wearing a thin brace but showed few ill effects, dominating the first half for Florida. Murphy scored 10 points and registered seven rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the contest, but LSU countered by hitting four of its first six attempts from downtown and trailed UF by just a single point midway through the period.

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SEC Tournament Gameday: (1) Florida vs. (9) LSU

Location: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 18,160]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU/ESPNUHD (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 126/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3 / WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

(1) FLORIDA GATORS (9) LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Johnny Jones
Record: 24-6 (14-4 SEC) Record: 19-11 (9-9 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -16 | O/U 128.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is looking to win its fourth SEC Tournament, first since completing a three-peat in the event from 2005-07. The Gators are 36-44 all-time in the SEC Tournament (21-13 under Donovan) in 47 total appearances.
» UF enters the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed for the fourth time in school history. The team has never failed to reach the finals when listed as the top seed.
» The Gators are 5-4 all-time in SEC Tournament games held played in Nashville, TN.
» LSU holds a 60-41 advantage over Florida in the all-time series, but the Gators have won four consecutive games over the Tigers and hold a 12-8 record under Donovan.
» Florida is 49-6 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (23-5 in 2012-13).
» Four Gators starters average in double figures while the Tigers boast five players that score in double digits on average.
» UF is 4-1 against top-25 opponents this season after going 3-5 against ranked adversaries last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams.
» Florida is 0-5 this season in single-digit decisions.
» The Gators are first nationally in scoring margin (+18.8), third in scoring defense (53.2), fourth in field goal defense (.373), ninth in field goal percentage (.485), 12th in three-point defense (.291), 18th in assist-turnover ratio (1.36) and 24th in turnover margin (3.1). Florida is also seventh nationally in fouling, committing 14.2 per game.
» The Tigers are 14th nationally in steals per game (9.2). Anthony Hickey is first nationally in steals per game (3.07).

Read the rest of the Florida-LSU gameday preview…after the break!
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1/12: Florida at LSU post-game report

No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball (12-2, 2-0 SEC) routed the LSU Tigers (9-4, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, LA. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 41-60 all-time against LSU (12-8 under Donovan). The Gators hold a 13-33 all-time record against the Tigers in Baton Rouge (5-4 under Donovan).
» UF has won four-straight games in the series against LSU.
» The Gators have now held 9-of-14 opponents under 60 points.
» Florida outshot their hosts from the field (.444-.323), from three (.348-.250) and from the charity stripe (.588-.400) and made seven more baskets on two fewer shots.
» The Gators won the rebounding battle 49-34 but gave up four more turnovers (11-7) over the course of the game.

PLAYER NOTES

» Senior guard Kenny Boynton continued working his way up the school’s all-time record book, passing Erving Walker (1,777 points) and Udonis Haslem (1,781) to move into third on Florida’s career scoring list with 1,782 career points as he posted a team-high 20 on Saturday. He is 148 points away from tying Andrew Moten (1,930) for second and has 308 more points to score until he is even with Ronnie Williams (2,090) for first in scoring.
» Junior forward Will Yeguete registered the third double-double of his career (second of the season) with a team-high 13 rebounds and 10 points. He is working through knee tendinitis and made a difference for the Gators in the second half.
» Four Florida players registered seven boards on the evening including freshman G Michael Frazier II, who hit a career-high with that mark. Frazier also played a career-high 31 minutes in the contest but finished with just five points on 1-of-5 shooting.

Read what Donovan had to say on injuries and more…after the break!
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Big second half pushes Florida past LSU 74-52

An overwhelming start to the second half fueled yet another dominant performance for No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball (12-2, 2-0 SEC), which poured it on right out of the break to earn a 74-52 victory over the LSU Tigers (9-4, 0-2 SEC) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, LA on Saturday.

Senior guard Kenny Boynton passed former teammate Erving Walker (1,777 points) and legend Udonis Haslem (1,781 points) for third on Florida’s all-time scoring list with 1,782 career points as he led the way for the Gators with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting (4-of-8 from three) with seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.

He was one of four UF players to score in double figures as junior center Patric Young added 14 points and seven rebounds and junior forward Erik Murphy bounced back from a rough first half to score 12 with seven boards, three assists, a steal and a block. Junior F Will Yeguete notched a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds including six off the offensive glass.

Down early, Florida utilized a 9-2 run to take a five-point lead on LSU with 9:31 left in the opening half. Minutes later, the Tigers responded with a 7-0 scoring stretch to gain a two-point advantage, but the teams eventually evened out at 19 with 4:19 remaining.

The Gators ended the opening 20 minutes on a 10-1 run – capped by a buzzer-beating jumper by junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin – to take a nine-point lead into the break despite shooting just 36.4 percent from the field to start the game.

Read the rest of the Florida-LSU game story…after the break!
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Florida basketball set for Saturday tilt at LSU

No. 9/11 FLORIDA GATORS LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Johnny Jones
Record: 11-2 (1-0 SEC) Record: 9-3 (0-1 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Pete Maravich Assembly Center – Baton Rouge, LA [Capacity: 13,215]
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU (Tom Hart, Matt Doherty)
SiriusXM: 200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: Florida -11 | O/U 135.5

MECHANICS FINE, SHOT SELECTION THE KEY

Senior guard Kenny Boynton broke out of a massive slump with a career-best performance one week ago. Asked Thursday if Boynton’s mechanics had anything to do with the slump he had been on, Donovan dismissed the notion and explained that few players’ mechanics are flawless but that each gets good at the way they shoot.

“Through the amount of time he has spent on his shooting, he has worked himself into a terrific shooter,” he said. “These guys end up perfecting their shot through their mechanics through repetition. I don’t think Kenny’s mechanics necessarily are absolutely ideal and perfect, but I can’t sit there and say that there’s many players out there who you can say their mechanics are ideal and perfect.”

Instead, Donovan pointed to shot selection as the key to staying out of slumps and being a contributor even when the ball is not falling in the basket for a player on a particular night. Boynton scored just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting in Florida’s 33-point win over Georgia.

“I think he’s done better. From a maturity standpoint, I thought his shots that he took [Wednesday] were pretty good shots,” Donovan said. “He didn’t score a lot of points, which is OK. He’s got to be able, as a senior, to function and understand [when he doesn’t score]. If he’s going to talk about wanting to do something special in his senior year and really wanting this to be a great season, there’s going to be some games where he doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well or he has maybe a poor shooting night. I think there’s a difference between those two things. Having a poor shooting night is something that is going to happen, but if you’re having a poor shooting night because of shot selection then that’s something that you can correct.”

CLIMBING THE CHARTS

Boynton is in his fourth year as a starter for the Gators. He is quickly making his way up many of Florida’s all-time lists and is already first in school history in three-point field goals made (291) and attempted (842). He currently leads the SEC in career points (1,762) and three-pointers among active players.

Career scoring
1. Ronnie Williams – 2,090 points
3. Udonis Haslem – 1,781 points
4. Erving Walker – 1,777 points
5. Kenny Boynton – 1,762 points

Minutes
1. Erving Walker – 4,358
4. Andrew Moten – 3,930
5. Kenny Boynton – 3,911

Starts
1. Andrew DeClerq – 128
3. Andrew Moten – 124
4. Kenny Boynton – 118

Field goal attempts
1. Stacey Poole – 1,578
2. Andrew Moten – 1,572
3. Kenny Boynton – 1,436

Field goals made
1. Ronnie Williams – 772
8. Matt Bonner – 580
9. Kenny Boynton – 573

Boynton is also approaching the top 10 in games played (nine away), free throws made (25 away) and assists (41 away).

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Florida is only 40-60 all-time against LSU including 11-8 under Donovan. The Gators hold a 12-33 all-time record when playing the Tigers in Baton Rouge (4-4 under Donovan).

» Donovan on junior center Patric Young, who should be posting better rebounding numbers: “Patric, because of his size, people are going to always keep a body on him. The extra effort and the second effort, when he gets hit going to the offensive glass, he’s got to be able to make that effort spinning off a guy and trying to get at least to the same level as the guy that’s blocking him out. … We definitely need Patric to chase some more balls on the glass. When he does do that, he’s a terrific rebounder. It’s also hard for him to rebound a lot of times when he’s in the lane like he is and so many people have bodies on him. It’s a difficult and challenging proposition or him to chase those kinds of balls, but we need him to do that.”

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FOUR BITS: offense, LSU, Meyer, Olympics

1 » X&O Labs, a football research company for coaches, took a special look on Tuesday at the Florida Gators offense and how the team’s downhill running game was able to dominate the LSU Tigers last Saturday. Noting that new offensive coordinator Brent Pease has “has implemented some of the same heavy, unbalanced formations that he used at Boise to gash defenses,” senior research manager Mike Kuchar outlined five of the different formations and went into even greater detail in the video below.

2 » Asked to explain this week why they were so gassed on Saturday in Gainesville, FL, LSU players told the Shreveport Times that heat-related fatigue was at fault. “It is Florida,” said linebacker Kevin Minter, who cramped up in the third quarter after dominating the first half and still finished the game with a school-record 20 total tackles. “The humidity is ridiculous. [...] We had a lot of miscues when we were breathing hard. You can’t let fatigue take over.”

3 » With the Gators having started the season 5-0 and looking like a team rejuvenated under head coach Will Muschamp, it was only a matter of time before new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was asked about presumably leaving the cupboard bare for his successor. “I don’t want to get into all that cupboard is bare [stuff], because that’s one man’s opinion, and we’ve got to move on,” he told the Associated Press. “I’m very proud of those guys. Love those guys.” Meyer also said he was proud of Florida’s victory over LSU. “Always be a Gator. I keep in touch with some of those players. Great win. Great, tough win against a tough opponent, absolutely,” he said.

4 » The University of Florida honored on Saturday nearly two dozen athletes and coaches that participated in the 2012 London Olympics. In the video below, courtesy of GatorVision.tv, swimmers Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer and triple jumper Christian Taylor are all interviewed about their respective experiences. (Note that Dwyer thought a 6-0 halftime lead by LSU could realistically result in a 13-10 win for Florida.)

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Spikes, volleyball, soccer

1 » The Florida Gators announced on Tuesday that head coach Billy Donovan’s son of the same name has decided to transfer to Florida and walk on to the team to play for and learn from his father. Billy Donovan , who spent his last two years playing for the Catholic Cardinals (Division III) in Washington, D.C., has already joined the team and will don the No. 42 though fans will not see him on the court this year as he will be forced to ride the bench during games due to NCAA transfer rules. As was noted a year ago when Catholic traveled to Gainesville, FL to play the Gators in an exhibition game, the younger Donovan originally chose to attend that university in order to further his passion for politics. A change of career path – he is now interested in a coaching or administrative role in a basketball organization – led him right back to where he grew up. “I never wanted it to be like I was telling him what to do career-wise,” Donovan told UF’s GatorZone.com. “I think he needs to figure that out on his own. My job, my wife’s job, is to be supportive and help put him in the best situation for him to pursue what he wants to pursue.” There is probably no better spot for the younger Donovan to learn how to coach or run a basketball team than under the wing of a future hall of fame coach.

2 » New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes received some bad news on Friday when he learned that the NFL decided to fine him $21,000 for an illegal blindside block he threw in a game on Sept. 30. Spikes, who leveled Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler during an interception return for his team, told the team’s website earlier in the week that he did not believe that he did anything wrong. “A lot of guys, they know the new rules. I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep it legal, but I just want to kind of try to make a point – when I hit a guy, I want him [to say], ‘Oh, that was Spikes that hit me. I know that already.”

3 » No. 11 Florida volleyball (13-2, 7-0 SEC) has been on a roll as of late, wrapping up their ninth- and 10th-straight regular season wins over the weekend while hosting a pair of Southeastern Conference opponents in Gainesville. UF registered a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-18, 25-15) the Arkansas Razorbacks (13-4, 4-2 SEC) on Friday before coming from two sets down to win 3-2 (22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-8) against the Kentucky Wildcats (10-7, 4-3 SEC) on Sunday. Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek of Slovenia was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for her efforts over the weekend. She registered a total of 32 kills and 14 digs combined over the two matches. Impressive in her own right was junior middle back Chloe Mann, who notched a combined 22 kills and 30.0 points on the weekend.

4 » No. 12 Gators soccer (10-3-1, 7-1 SEC) is on a roll of their own, shaking off early season disappointment to rebound with a seven-match winning streak including two big road victories over the last weekend. Florida won 2-0 over the LSU Tigers (5-5-4, 1-4-2 SEC) on Friday before, like volleyball, coming back from a deficit to take down the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (12-2-1, 6-1-1 SEC) 2-1 on Sunday. Four different players scored goals for the Gators over the weekend with senior midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak and sophomore MF Havana Solaun finding the back of the net on Friday and senior defender Jo Dragotta and junior F Adriana Leon scoring on Sunday. Tymrak, who garnered SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday, also notched an assist on Leon’s game-winning goal.

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