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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10/8: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

No. 4/6 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel with the media on Monday to review the team’s big 14-6 win over the LSU Tigers and preview Saturday’s road contest against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We had an electric atmosphere, an outstanding atmosphere to play in. We really appreciate [the fans’] support. [The fans] caused some communication issues for the other team and that’s always an advantage playing here in The Swamp. As a team, I thought we played hard, played very physical. It was very evident on film as you watched the tape in all three phases. So, very pleased with the effort.”

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp said that redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who played Saturday with a cast on his hand after missing two games with a broken thumb, is “probable” for the Vanderbilt game after tweaking his hamstring. He added that redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) and junior cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) remain out.

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Game: senior running back Mike Gillislee
“He’s a guy that’s just having an outstanding senior season, a great example or our football team, the type of young man you want on your team.”
* Gillislee was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and one of two Walter Camp Players of the Week.

Scrap Iron: offensive linemen, fullbacks and tight ends
“They did a really nice job of getting a hat-on-a-hat in the run game, creating some opportunities for Mike and our runners.”

Defensive Player of the Game & Hard Hat: junior safety Matt Elam
“I thought he played outstanding, played his best football game since I’ve been here. It was great effort. He always does give great effort, but it just was a very productive game for him. Obviously the strip on the long completion was just a phenomenal play. What an extra-effort play. It wasn’t his play but he came across the top and just made an outstanding effort play that sort of exemplifies kind of who we are.”
* Elam was also named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week.

Ball Hawks: Elam, junior CB Jaylen Watkins, senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic, freshman Buck LB Dante Fowler, redshirt sophomore Sam LB Neiron Ball, sophomore S De’Ante Saunders

Special Teams Player of the Game: sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy
“[He is] a guy that’s covering as well as I’ve been around. Here’s a guy that plays corner, starts at corner, plays in upwards of 50-60 snaps in a game. The way Kyle [Christy] is playing right now, he’s covering punts for about 50. [Purifoy] just does a great job of getting down the field and disrupting returns. He’s on our kickoff coverage team. The importance of special teams – here’s a guy that understands it and gets it.”

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10/6: Florida vs. LSU post-game report

Florida Gators football (5-0, 4-0 SEC) came away with a signature win on Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL as they upended the LSU Tigers (5-1, 1-1 SEC) in a match-up of top-10 teams. It was the Gators’ first victory over the Tigers since 2009 and marked an important win in the young career of head coach Will Muschamp, who spoke with the media following the contest.

HISTORY / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida is 2-0 against ranked opponents in 2012 after going 0-5 against such foes in 2011. UF has also improved 3-0 when trailing at the half in 2012 after going 0-5 in similar situations just one year ago.
» The Gators are 8-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 9-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points.
» Florida is outscoring opponents 78-13 in the second half and 41-0 in the fourth quarter through five games in 2012.
» The Gators have not allowed a touchdown in nine-straight quarters.
» Florida has started a season 5-0 for the first time since 2009.
» The Gators defeated a ranked opponent at home for the first time since Nov. 15, 2008.
» Florida defeated an SEC West team in Gainesville for the first time since Oct. 17, 2009.
» The Gators have held opponents to just 19-of-75 (25.3 percent) on third down conversion attempts.
» Florida won the time of possession battle by 14:52, nearly a full quarter. It is the second-straight week in which UF held a similar margin (15:22 vs. Kentucky).
» The Gators ran the ball on 25 consecutive plays to end the game.
» Florida has registered at least one interception per game this season.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who returned to action Saturday with a cast on his hand after missing two full games with a broken thumb, barely got a chance to make an impact as he went down with a hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return to the field. Muschamp said after the game that Jenkins likely just tweaked his hamstring and team doctors expect him to be able to return to practice in a few days.

Read the rest of what Muschamp and the players had to say…after the break!
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Muschamp directs Florida to signature win

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp ensured the fans all offseason that their team was headed in the right direction. He spoke at Gator Clubs, appeared on national television, did radio interviews and repeated himself over and over again, promising that Florida was tougher and deeper than one year ago.

Muschamp’s emphatic Gator Chomps following his team’s 14-6 victory over the LSU Tigers on Saturday were his way of releasing the pent up frustration that was visible on his face but not communicated in 2011. The Gators were simply not good enough to win football games one year ago.

“We weren’t physical enough on the line of scrimmage to compete and play in this league. Our depth was part of that issue because of the way we practiced,” he said on Wednesday. “Some of the things I wanted to do, and I felt like we needed to do, we couldn’t do because of numbers and attrition. We didn’t practice the way we always wanted to practice. And then as we went through the season, my realization of where we were sort of came to a head. We weren’t physical enough on either side of the line of scrimmage.”

That does not sound like the Florida team of today, one which boasts one of the best defenses in the nation and an offense that has succeeded by running the ball down opponents’ throats while out-toughing them for four quarters.

“You saw two very physical teams going at it [Saturday] on both lines of scrimmage. Obviously it’s easy to see our improvements that we’ve made,” Muschamp said after the game. “I can’t speak any further without talking about Jeff Dillman, our strength coach. It was very evident out there on the football field tonight. We had a very strong, physical football team that had good endurance against an outstanding, athletic bunch, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Credit [him] and his staff; those guys do an outstanding job.”

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Elam leads Gators defense in quest for revenge

Saturday, October 8, 2011 at around 7 p.m. was the most depressed the Florida Gators felt all last season, which should come as no shock considering the then-No. 17-ranked team in the country looked anything but while getting run out of the building by the then-No. 1 LSU Tigers by a 30-point margin in Baton Rouge, LA.

Florida’s offense, without starting quarterback John Brantley, may have had an excuse for its lackluster performance, but the Gators defense was equally as pitiful, coughing up 14 points in the first quarter, 24 points in the first half and 41 (the most they allowed all season) by the time the final whistle sounded.

Yet while that game seemed like the worst thing that could happen to Florida in 2011, one year later it may have been exactly what the Gators needed to realize what it takes to beat a big-time Southeastern Conference opponent.

“We took every game that we lost, every game that we lost that wasn’t close. We take all that personal because we’re letting each other down. It’s more than a football team,” said junior defensive end Dominique Easley after Florida’s big 14-6 win over LSU.

“That game was serious to us, just for the fact that we got our ass kicked [last year].”

Easley and the rest of the defense understood what the Gators had to do against a Tigers team that featured a run-heavy offense but shaky and injury-riddled offensive line. Florida had to attack, which is exactly what the defense did from start to finish.

“Honestly, we wanted to come in this game and win, but more we wanted to come and hurt them. We wanted them to feel the pain that we felt last year because we had hurt in our heart, so we wanted them to feel the pain we had,” he said.

“Third quarter, them boys were huffing and puffing. I was looking at people’s eyes and they were scared. We wanted to take somebody’s will. We like to take people’s will, not just win the game. Take their will and make them remember this night.”

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Humble “program guy” Gillislee never lost faith

“Free Gilly” became a rally cry for Florida Gators fans in 2011 when the team’s undersized but speedy starting running backs were simply not getting the job done. Senior rusher Mike Gillislee got that well-deserved and long-desired freedom in the first week of the 2012 campaign and has used his talent, coupled with a humble, team-first attitude, to emerge as one of the best players not only on his team but in the entire Southeastern Conference.

“Playing running back is all about being patient and having faith in your offensive line and knowing that the holes will open up soon,” Gillislee said Saturday after toting a career-high 34 carries for a beastly 146 yards and two touchdowns against the LSU Tigers, a team that features one of the best defensive lines in the nation.

But Gillislee’s patience does not only manifest between the sidelines.

A four-star prospect out of Deland, FL in 2009, he committed to Florida knowing he would have to work to earn carries in then-head coach Urban Meyer’s spread offense. When Meyer left and Will Muschamp took over promising to overhaul the offense with a pro-style system, Gillislee’s hopes for playing time were undoubtedly raised.

A combination of injuries and roster depth hurt his chance to break out in his true junior season as he carried the ball two fewer times for exactly as many yards (328) as he did in UF’s final year under Meyer.

Instead of getting down on his luck, Gillislee kept his head up and plowed forward.

“[He’s] a great example for everyone on our football team,” Muschamp said. “This guy puts Florida before himself and that’s really hard nowadays with a lot of young people. They want everything now and that’s not the way Mike is. That’s not the way he’s built.”

Gillislee admitted as much after Saturday’s game.

Read the rest of this feature story on Mike Gillislee…after the break!

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