Fastbreak: Florida inches past Memphis 77-75

The No. 16 Florida Gators (8-2) picked up another huge victory on Tuesday night in the 2013 Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY, holding on for a hard-fought 77-75 victory over the No. 15 Memphis Tigers (7-2).

OnlyGators.com breaks down the Gators’ eighth win with The Fastbreak.

It was over when: Memphis guard Joe Jackson, the team’s leading scorer with 17 points, drove the lane with six seconds remaining and his team down two only to be stifled by tight defense from Florida forwards senior Will Yeguete and redshirt sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith. Yeguete cleaned up with four points and four rebounds, while Finney-Smith finished with 14 points and a team-high eight boards.

Prominent player: Gators senior F Casey Prather once again proved to be his team’s most valuable asset on the court, scoring a game-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting while hitting all six of his free throws including four with less than 1:20 to play. Prather scored Florida’s last eight points and also finished with five rebounds and a block.

Standout stats: UF dominated the boards, earning a 36-25 advantage overall while doubling up its opponent on the offensive glass (14-7). On the other hand, Memphis bothered Florida into commit 18 turnovers while only coughing up 11 of its own. The forced changes in possession negated the Gators’ rebounding advantage and kept the game closer than it perhaps should have been.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Florida inches past Memphis 77-75

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2013 Jimmy V. Classic – Gameday: No. 16 Florida Gators vs. No. 15 Memphis Tigers

Event: 2013 Jimmy V. Classic
Location: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY [Capacity: 19,812]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale, Andy Katz)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(16) FLORIDA GATORS (15) MEMPHIS TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Josh Pastner
Record: 7-2 Record: 7-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: American
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3 | O/U 137

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida and Memphis have not squared off since 1976 when the Gators beat the Tigers in an 84-83 nail-biter played in St. Petersburg, FL.
» UF is 4-3 at Madison Square Garden under Donovan but are playing in the Jimmy V. Classic for the first time.
» Donovan, a native of Rockville Center in Long Island, NY, has a place in his heart for MSG. Not only did he attend games as a child and teenager, Donovan played at MSG in college while with Providence and as a professional with the New York Knicks.
» Memphis is the fourth and final ranked opponent Florida will face in non-conference action this season. The Gators are 1-2 in the prior three games with both losses coming in true road games against teams currently ranked in the top 10 nationally.
» The Tigers are 3-0 in neutral-site games this season.
» UF is 5-4 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all four losses coming away from its home court.
» Florida is 61-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF’s defense has started off allowing just 60.9 points per game through nine contests, making it the stingiest in the SEC; no opponent has scored more than 69.
» The Gators have already used five different starting lineups through eight games. Only two players – seniors forward Casey Prather and center Patric Young – have started every contest thus far.

Read the rest of the Florida-Memphis gameday preview…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2013 Jimmy V. Classic – Gameday: No. 16 Florida Gators vs. No. 15 Memphis Tigers

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Donovan talks point guards, close games, Walker

No. 16 Florida Gators (7-2) head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Monday, one day before his team takes on the No. 15 Memphis Tigers (7-1) at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY as part of the 2013 Jimmy V. Classic.

TWO POINT GUARDS, ONE BALL

Donovan did not go so far as to say whether his two point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill – would start on Tuesday, but he definitely intimated that he has plans to have them on the court together for a good portion of the game.

Hill, coming back from a high-ankle sprain, actually “tweaked” his other ankle and missed a day of practice during the week but will be fine to play. When on the court with Wilbekin, the freshman will be the primary ball-handler on offense, a role Donovan said was easy to work out with his senior counterpart.

“Scottie is one of those guys you can just put out there on the floor. He can play any position, doesn’t care about it. I think that part of it, chemistry-wise, is really, really good – moving Scottie off the ball some and Kasey’s got the ball in his hands,” he explained.

“Those guys have played some together they’re getting more comfortable playing together some. Besides those two guys being comfortable with each other, the bigger issue is taking a guy like Scottie and moving him to the two where he’s really, over the last year or so, never played there. Now he knows what’s going on, he’s very cerebral and very smart it’s not like he doesn’t understand. The ball is not in his hands as much.

“So I’ve got to do things, in terms of running plays, to get the ball in his hands to playing pick and roll to come off screens and do some of those things. As far as their chemistry together, it’s been fine. And I think what it does do, when we move Scottie to the two … it gives us some more shooting than maybe in some lineups we’ve had in the past.”

Continue Reading » Donovan talks point guards, close games, Walker

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TWO BITS: Strong to Cards? News on ex-Gators.

1 » Earlier in the season, rumors insisted that Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong would be given heavy consideration for the head coaching job with the Memphis Tigers. Reports later surfaced that Strong was not being thought of for the post. Following a rousing victory over the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, rumors have now surfaced that the Louisville Cardinals hope to secure Strong as their future head coach. “I know my job is here right now and it’s the only thing I can worry about,” Strong said when questioned about the rumor. “You can’t let yourself get consumed with it. My job is, ‘Let’s go beat Alabama.’ What can I do? If they are going to hire me, they are going to hire me. But my job right now – let’s go beat ‘Bama.”

2 » A pair of former Gators put themselves in the spotlight this past weekend. Cameron Newton, who was dropped from the Florida football team after being arrested for stealing and destroying a laptop, found a starting job with Blinn College in Texas and is on his way to leading that team to a junior college bowl game in a week. This weekend, however, he was visiting the Mississippi State Bulldogs and head coach Dan Mullen (his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach while at Florida). Newton is expected to pick MSU for obvious reasons and was seen ringing a cowbell during his visit.

Jonathan Mitchell, a former Florida basketball player who transferred to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for increased playing time, said earlier in the week he was looking forward to showing Gators head coach Billy Donovan what he had lost. Instead, Mitchell only scored six points, contributed two rebounds and two assists and committed a team-high four turnovers – nothing that bothered Donovan or Florida.

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Charlie Strong left off Memphis’ short list?

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Tigers have whittled an initial list of 50 leading contenders to replace head coach Tommy West down to just five. Among the five are North Alabama head coach Terry Bowden, LSU Tigers assistant Larry Porter (former Memphis running back), Oklahoma State Cowboys co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewster, Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

Mysteriously absent from this list are three coaches who were considered early front-runners for the position: former Auburn Tigers head coach Tommy Tuberville, Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and current Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. OGGOA continues to hold that Strong deserves a more prominent head coaching position; no one should be too broken up over this if it is indeed true.

There is a strong belief that Porter could be the early favorite for the job, seeing as he is an alumni who has twice been named Rivals’ “Recruiter of the Year.” Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said earlier this week that the ability to recruit would be paramount in a coaching candidate, with head-coaching experience secondary.

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SIX BITS: Softball signees; Strong as head coach; Poole, Jr.; Spurrier; big plays; special teams

1 » Following big signings by the Florida Gators baseball, volleyball and women’s basketball teams, softball head coach Tim Walton announced Thursday that two highly coveted high school players have signed national letters of intent to play for the Orange and Blue starting in 2010. Utility player Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, FL) and shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, CA) are both extremely talented women who will bring a lot to the program. For more on their accomplishments, check out this article on GatorZone.

2 » Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is garnering heavy interest from the Memphis Tigers for their head coaching vacancy, according to reports. OGGOA believes Strong should not take the job if offered, simply because we feel he deserves and can receive the head job at another big-time program rather than a second-tier school (football-wise). Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley shares similar thoughts while Miami Herald beat writer Joseph Goodman thinks Memphis would be a good fit. “I just have to work and continue to do this job right now,” Strong said when asked about the rumors. “My whole focus is making sure our defense goes out and plays well.”

3 » In recruiting news… Four-star small forward Stacey Poole, Jr., the son of former Gators standout Stacy Poole (who ranks as the team’s No. 4 all-time scorer), has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats and head coach John Calipari. Poole is one of the best forwards in the country and the first signee for Kentucky’s 2010 recruiting class.

Three more BITS about Spurrier, big plays and special teams after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Softball signees; Strong as head coach; Poole, Jr.; Spurrier; big plays; special teams

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