Florida Gators open eight 2014 fall practices

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced that eight of the team’s fall practice dates will be open to the public ahead of the 2014 season.

With anticipation of the offense developing under newly-hired coordinator Kurt Roper and an overall bounce back to form after a disastrous 4-8 season in 2013, Gators fans living in or planning to travel to Gainesville, Florida, will be able to see much of the preparation with their own eyes.

Muschamp mentioned at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Media Days that the team will report to Gainesville on Sunday, Aug. 3 with practice set to begin on Monday, Aug. 4.

Football practices on the following six dates will be held at Donald R. Dizney Stadium and completely open to the public: Thursday, Aug. 7; Friday, Aug. 8; Sunday, Aug. 11; Tuesday, Aug. 12, Wednesday, Aug. 13; Thursday, Aug. 14.

Florida will also hold a practice open only to season ticket holders on Saturday, Aug. 9 at the lacrosse stadium.

The Gators’ last open practice will be held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 16. It precedes Fan Day for the football and volleyball teams, which will kick off at 3 p.m. across the street at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

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Florida vs. Florida State post-game notes

The No. 11/12 Florida Gators wound up pulling away after a first-half slugfest with the Florida State Seminoles, defeating their in-state rivals 82-64 on Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared his thoughts on the victory.

ESPN HIGHLIGHTS

OFFENSE DEFENSE vs. DEFENSE

Heading into the contest, much of the focus was on whether Florida’s offense or Florida State’s defense would be the victor. Donovan, confident in the Gators’ ability to score, had his team focusing on defense all week, noting that if they could improve on that end a win against their rival would be likely.

“There was a lot of talk in the game about who was going to win out – our offense or their defense. I felt like the key in the game for us was how well we could defend and rebound. I told the guys that the game is not going to come down to whether or not they can stop us or not. It’s going to come down to how well we guard,” he said.

Even though Florida is somewhat of a smaller team overall, Donovan was confident in his team’s toughness against a rough group of FSU players.

“We have a pretty tough group physically. We may be undersized, but they’ll get in there and bang. They’ll physically compete. They’ll put their bodies in plays,” he said. “It was really important for us to have that physicality in the game from start to finish.”

He also said that the Gators’ defensive effort plays into his mantra that defense can setup offense, something Florida has plenty of this year. “The two hardest things to do in basketball defensively is to transition defense back … and to close out and guard the dribble,” he said. “When we get stops and we can rebound the ball, we’ve got a lot of offense coming down the floor and it’s hard to match up.”

YOUNG’s BLOCK; PLAYER EVALUATIONS

Sophomore center Patric Young’s insanely athletic block in the second half undoubtedly provided a great deal of push for the Gators. It was a play that turned a back-and-forth battle into a big-time victory, and Donovan felt the impact of Young’s block immediately. “It was a great play and it fueled our team and it gave us momentum, it gave us energy. And Pat athletically has the ability to make plays like that,” he said.

Donovan also praised Young’s entire performance on Thursday and how he really took lessons he learned in practice this week to heart. “I was really impressed with him because we watched a lot of film on how he was going to be guarded. I told him he can’t get frustrated because it was going to be hard to get the ball,” he said. “I said, ‘You got to keep posting up the whole entire game. You may only get it three times, four times, five times. But when you get it – you may have to work 50 times just to get it [once].’ And he did. He kept great composure. He was 7-for-7 from the field and you want to get it to him more and you try to get it to him more.”

On freshman guard Bradley Beal and his improved shooting: “When he’s open, he shoots it. He got some more shots up tonight. I thought our guys found him. He had a couple good drives to the basket. He rebounded the ball. He had some good looks from the three-point line. He’s got freedom to do that. Like anything else, he’s just the kind of kid that never wants to come across as being selfish. And he’s not selfish. He’s probably feeling more and more comfortable. It’s not so much that we’re asking him to do more or he feels like he needs to do more, he’s just understanding where shots need to come from.”

On senior point guard Erving Walker’s shooting struggles: “He took one that he knew was bad. He came down on the break and he kind of let it really go. We were on a run, and I think we were up 13, and I could tell he looked down to see if I was upset. And I was. He had some decent looks but the one thing that he did do is he constantly puts pressure on team’s defenses because he’s coming down the lane for a layup and you do have to account for him. The biggest thing for him is him making the next decision which sometimes has been hard because of his size, but he did a better job tonight. [...] But 1-for-7 beats 3-for-15. He’s got to understand, and I think he did make one three and he took a couple tough shots, but overall he really played a pretty good floor game in my opinion.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On shooting well from the line in the second half after starting 0-for-7: “Our guys have such a high opinion of how well they think they should shoot the ball. When it doesn’t go in, they lose a little bit of focus or they get down, they get disappointed. In the first half, our focus was not where it needed to be from the free throw line. In the second half we did a much better job. We rebounded pretty well in the second half and – thank God – made some free throws.”

» On when Florida will go from great spurts to playing a complete game: “It’s hard to play a complete game that you want to play because you’re playing other good teams. You’re up by 25 against A&M, you know they’re going to come out and compete and fight and battle. You know Florida State is going to compete and battle and fight for 40 minutes. [Playing against] good players, you’re going to have some moments you don’t look great and you need to get better.”

» On the health of redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (back): “I’m concerned from the standpoint that he’s going home and he’s not going to have any rehab for Christmas. Right now I would say he’s probably doubtful for Rutgers – that would be my guess. Just because he’s not going to be around the medical staff and be able to do treatment and rehab and the things he needs to do. We’re going to come back and practice on the 26th. We’ll see how he is, but I would be shocked if he plays right now with the way it is against Rutgers.”

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Young powers Gators to 82-64 win over Noles

What started out as a slugfest at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL turned into an impressive victory for the No. 11/12 Florida Gators (10-2), which used a picture-perfect performance by sophomore center Patric Young to upend the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles (8-4) 82-64 Thursday evening.

Young played 31 minutes for the Gators and was 7-for-7 from the field, scoring 15 points and grabbing four rebounds while also executing monster takeaway block that shook the O’Dome with excitement.

Florida State got on the board first but suffered through an 0-for-11 scoring drought that lasted 7:50 and saw Florida post 14 unanswered points to take an early 14-2 advantage. However, FSU eventually fought out of their rut and went on an 11-0 run over 1:42 to reduce UF’s advantage to a single point.

The Gators continued the game of runs by opening up an 11-2 scoring stretch capped by a three-pointer from junior guard Kenny Boynton in transition off of a blocked shot by freshman G Bradley Beal to take a nine-point lead with 3:57 left in the first half.

The Seminoles answered by scoring seven-straight points and cutting their rival’s lead to a single basket, but Florida scored four-straight to end the half and took a 32-24 lead on Florida State into the locker rooms at the break.

UF hit consecutive threes early in the second half to retake a 10-point lead and – following a quick 8-0 run by FSU – exploded on a 15-2 run of their own to jump ahead 53-38. The Gators never looked back.

A trey by junior forward Erik Murphy increased Florida’s advantage to a 19 points, and two free throws by senior point guard Erving Walker gave the Gators a game-high 21-point lead with less than three minutes left in the contest.

Florida, which had been much improved from the free throw line over the last two games, started 0-for-7 from the charity stripe but finished by hitting 16 of their final 17 attempts, shooting 66 percent on the evening. The Gators also hit 10 threes and outrebounded their opponent 32-31, marking the 10th time in 12 games this season that Florida has achieved either feat.

Beal led the Gators with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting and hit 3-of-4 attempts from beyond the arc to go along with six rebounds. Boynton (14 points), Murphy (12 points, six boards) and Walker (11 points, 8-of-10 from the line) also scored in double digits as sophomore F Will Yeguete led Florida with eight rebounds.

UF registered 12 steals during the contest with Beal and Yeguete each grabbing three; Boynton and Walker each took the ball away from FSU twice.

During the contest, Walker became the 12th player in school history to surpass 1,500 career points. The Gators awarded head coach Billy Donovan a ball for his 400th win prior to the game and honored the Voice of the Gators Mick Hubert at the first media timeout for calling his 1,000th career Florida football or basketball game.

UF will have a week off for the holidays before travelling to face Rutgers on Thursday, Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN2 and will be the second-to-last one the Gators will play before the new year.

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No. 11 Florida Gators vs. FSU Seminoles

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 12,000]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPNU
SiriusXM: 219/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(11) FLORIDA GATORS FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Leonard Hamilton
Record: 9-2 Record: 8-3
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -9.5; O/U 138

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before the big game? No problem. OGGOA has been here all season long compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Thursday evening.

Donovan’s MVSU notes, Florida State preview | Texas A&M post-game notes

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Florida State 40-22, sporting a 9-6 record against their in-state rival under Donovan and a 19-6 record at home in Gainesville. FSU, however, holds a 3-2 advantage in the last five meetings but has only beat a ranked UF team in the O’Connell Center once.
» The Gators are 97-6 against non-conference opponents in the O’Dome since 1999.
» UF has won 11-straight games at the O’Connell Center.
» The Gators have made a three in 662 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» Florida has connected on 10 or more treys in nine of 11 games this season, failing to do so only against Syracuse and Arizona. Hitting double-digit threes in six-straight games is the longest streak under Donovan.
» Three Gators are shooting better than 40 percent from three (minimum 10 attempts).
» UF has outrebounded 10 of 11 opponents this season.
» The Gators have the second-best winning percentage against ranked opponents (.551) among SEC teams dating back to 1999-2000.
» Florida is ranked No. 3 in scoring offense (86.5 points), No. 12 in scoring margin (19.6 points), No. 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.52), No. 12 in assists (17.8) and No. 1 in three-pointers (11.3 per game) nationally as of Dec. 18. The Gators are also 302nd (out of 338 teams) in free throw shooting (61.8 percent).
» Florida State is ranked No. 3 in field goal defense (34.2 percent), No. 14 in three-point defense (25.8 percent) and No. 7 in blocked shots (7.0) nationally as of Dec. 18.
» FSU is on a three-game winning streak after dropping three consecutive contests including two at home in the month of November. All three teams the Seminoles lost to are currently or were previously ranked this season.
» Florida State has 10 players who see double-digit minutes on average.
» The Seminoles are the third winnings program in the ACC since 2008-09, only behind Duke and North Carolina.
» FSU is first in the ACC in field goal defense, blocked shots and steals; third in three-point defense, scoring margin and rebound margin; and fourth in scoring defense.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Florida State last squared off a year ago with the Gators earning a four-point victory over the Seminoles even though they were outscored 30-25 in the second half. Kenny Boynton led the way for UF with 14 points, but Erik Murphy’s putback of a missed shot with 16 seconds left in the contest helped seal the victory for Florida. FSU only shot 33.3 percent on the evening with Chris Singleton making just 2-of-12 shots. Though the Seminoles cut the Gators’ lead to one point with less than three minutes to play, they never managed to negate Florida’s lead and fell at home to the No. 16-ranked Gators.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Senior point guard Erving Walker (#11)…who is the longest tenured player on the team having appeared in 118 consecutive games with 57-straight starts. A shoot-first player much of his career, Walker has been tasked with distributing the ball and managing the game this year. He is the SEC’s active leader in minutes (3,527) and treys (240) but also ranks second in points (1,490), assists (432) and steals (136) as well as third in free throws (374). Walker is No. 12 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No. 4 in assists, No. 8 in free throws, No. 5 in threes made, No. 4 in treys attempted (628) and No. 7 in minutes. He is the only player on the team making more than three quarters of his free throws (82.1 percent).
» Junior guard Kenny Boynton (#1)…who is a dynamic scorer and just the second starter returning from a year ago. Boynton is working on his consistency this season and is already shooting better than he has throughout his career (49.6 percent from the field and 46.6 percent from downtown). He is the best defender on the Gators and is often put on the opponent’s best backcourt playmaker. Boynton currently ranks fifth in the SEC among active players in points (1,207) and third in three-pointers (193). He has hit a trey in 26-straight games and is the SEC’s second-leading scorer averaging 18.7 points per game. Boynton is No. 7 on UF’s list for threes made.
» Freshman G Bradley Beal (#23)…who is starting at the three for Florida fresh out of high school. Beal was the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, one of the top five players in the country, and is arguably the most talented player to sign with the Gators since Donovan took over. He is averaging 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 69.4 percent from the line (second best on the team) while playing a team-high 33.0 minutes per gam.e
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joined the starting lineup this year after being the primary frontcourt reserve as a freshman. Young saw action in all 37 games as a freshman, averaging 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in limited action. He has four double-doubles on the season and scored a career-high 25 points against Arizona. Young is posting averages of 11.0 points, 7.5 boards and 1.4 blocks per game.
» Sophomore forward Will Yeguete (#15)…who is Florida’s do-everything player, averaging 5.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 20.8 minutes per game. The Gators’ primary frontcourt reserve, Yeguete has started a few games due to injury.
» Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (#3)…who is finally playing for Florida after transferring out of Rutgers and sitting out the 2010-11 season. Rosario scored more than 1,000 points in two seasons with his former team and averaged 16.7 points per game during his sophomore year. He is the Gators’ de facto sixth man and is seeing 17.1 minutes of court time each game, averaging 9.4 points while shooting 46.6 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc.

FLORIDA STATE
» F Bernard James (#5)…who is the Noles’ consummate big man, averaging 10.5 points and 9.2 boards each contest while also adding 2.6 blocks. James, who has netted five double-doubles this year (including two sets of consecutive ones), hits 59.8 percent of his field goals but only shoots 45.0 percent from the line.
» G Michael Snaer (#21)…who leads Florida State in points per game (13.2) and minutes (30.5), also nabbing 4.5 rebounds while shooting team-highs from the line (90.9 percent) and downtown (36.8 percent). All of those numbers are career-highs for Snaer, who hit a clutch three-pointer in the last minute of the game against Florida last year.

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No. 11/12 Gators clobber Delta Devils 82-54

It was clobbering time at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Monday evening as the newly minted No. 11/12 Florida Gators (9-2) topped the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (1-9) 82-54.

Coming off an unexpectedly easy victory 84-64 against then-No. 22 Texas A&M on Saturday, Florida kept their focus in order to avoid a significant upset. The Gators responded to the challenge with all five starters scoring in double figures and combining to go 10-for-18 from downtown.

Florida opened the contest shooting as well as they have all season, hitting their first eight shots and 10-of-11 to take an early 21-4 lead. The Gators increased their advantage to 20 points minutes later when junior guard Kenny Boynton connected on his second triple and fourth basket of the game in under seven minutes.

After taking a 24-point lead just nine minutes into the game, Florida went on a bit of a scoring drought, allowing Mississippi Valley State to close their gap by five points in just over seven minutes. A trey by Boynton with 2:55 remaining gave the Gators their 24-point advantage back, one they would maintain through the end of the half.

Coming out of the break, Florida found their stroke again and stretched their lead to 34 thanks in part to four made three-pointers during a two-minute stretch early in the second half. Four free throws by senior point guard Erving Walker stretched the Gators’ advantage to a game-high 39 points with 10:25 remaining.

UF rested many of its starters (some of whom were in foul trouble) down the stretch and relented a bit on defense but still held on for the decisive victory. The Delta Devils were outscored 46-22 in the first half but just 36-32 in the final 20 minutes.

Walker led the way for the Gators with 19 points on 4-of-6 shooting (3-for-5 from downtown, 8-for-8 from the line) with three rebounds, three assists, two steals and three turnovers. Boynton scored 16 points to go along with four boards and four dimes.

Freshman G Bradley Beal was an efficient 3-for-4 from beyond the arc for 13 points with six rebounds, while sophomore center Patric Young added 12 points, eight boards and four assists. Junior forward Erik Murphy matched Young with eight rebounds and hit half of his shots for 11 points.

Freshman center Walter Pitchford and walk-on Jacob Kurtz each got a chance to play; Pitchford hit a layup while Kurtz connected on a pair of free throws. Neither redshirt junior G Mike Rosario (strained back) nor redshirt freshman F Cody Larson (strep throat) saw the court.

Florida outrebounded an opponent for the 10th time in 11 games this season, grabbing 13 more boards (41-28) than Mississippi Valley State. The Gators shot just a shade under 50 percent from downtown and connected on 10 treys, their ninth time hitting double-digit three-pointers this season.

The Delta Devils attempted 32 treys but hit just six of them, shooting a paltry 18.8 percent from downtown and 30.8 percent from the field.

UF will remain at home as they next host in-state rival Florida State on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will air live nationally on ESPNU.

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FOUR BITS: Elway apologizes to Tebow, Gators earn awards, volleyball falls, Macklin ready

1 » Nothing that Denver Broncos executive vice president John Elway has done to this point – whether it be verbal comments or body language – has shown that he fully supports quarterback Tim Tebow. Despite the fact that Tebow is winning games and doing so in a variety of ways, Elway recently answered “no” when asked by a radio station if he was “any closer to having your quarterback on this team” than he was a month earlier. With Tebow continuing to win and Elway receiving more and more criticism, he told FOX Sports this week that he “could have done a better job answering that question.” “It was a little too blunt,” he went on to say. “I should have said, ‘We’re not talking about the future. We’re talking about right now. Tim Tebow is definitely our guy.’”

Tebow recently avoided a question asking whether or not he felt the entire organization was behind him; that non-answer is likely what led Elway to personally apologize to his star, which FOX Sports notes he did recently. In fact, Elway has also told Tebow that he plans to work with him alongside QB coach Adam Gase in the offseason – not to “fix’ his throwing motion but rather to improve his accuracy. “I don’t believe you change a throwing motion. I do believe you can really help your accuracy by your feet,” Elway said. “That’s where, to me, Tim has so much upside. He’s improving. It’s just a matter of getting it burned into his reactions and mind.”

2 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which the team is presented a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2011 award winners along with some award explanations, courtesy of the University of Florida.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Caleb Sturgis
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jesse Schmitt
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: William Green
Chris Patrick Courage Award: John Brantley
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Tim Clark Defensive: Michael McNeely Special Teams: Hygens Succes and Solomon Schoonover

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Jeff Demps Defense: Dominique Easley
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Matt Patchan Defense: Dominique Easley
MVP Offense: Chris Rainey Defense: Jon Bostic, Matt Elam ST: Caleb Sturgis
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): John Brantley
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Chris Rainey
* As voted on by the entire team.
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Lerentte McCray, John Brantley
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: John Brantley, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, William Green, Jaye Howard

3 » Florida volleyball’s inspiring run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament came to an end Saturday evening as the No. 3 Illinois Illini defeated the Gators 3-1 in four sets (25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-20) in Elite Eight action at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. UF has been ranked higher heading into the tournament in recent memory, but Florida reached the regional final this year for the first time since 2005. Seniors setter/right-side Kelly Murphy and outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel once again led the way for their squad. Murphy’s triple-double (13 kills, 21 assists, 17 digs) was the 30th of her career. Murphy posted 19 kills and 11 digs for a double-double. Each will end their careers in the top 10 of a number of categories in the Gators’ record book. Transfer Colleen Ward, who joined the Illini, posted 23 kills and 11 digs in the contest for a double-double of her own. Florida finished the season 27-6 and was on a 10-match winning streak before falling to Illinois.

4 » As one Gators rookie waits to sign his deal, center Vernon Macklin has already agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons, which selected him in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Macklin, who stayed in shape during the lockout by maintaining his college conditioning and working out with NBA players like Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Lakers F Metta World Peace, Atlanta center Al Horford and Chicago C Joakim Noah, recently told The Detroit News that he was star struck when he saw Detroit C Ben Wallace practicing. “It’s kind of a weird feeling,” he said. “Him going to Virginia Union, a lot of my family members idolized him and learned from him.”

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12/7: Florida vs. Arizona post-game notes

The No. 12 Florida Gators took down the Arizona Wildcats 78-72 in overtime Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and the players provided their thoughts on the win.

FOCUSING ON SOME POSITIVES

Before diving into all of the things that the Gators did wrong Wednesday, Donovan made it a point to mention how proud he was of the team not getting down on itself for shooting poorly and instead sticking together and pulling through in the end.

“Our guys really showed resiliency. Up three with five seconds to go, our guys probably could have come to the huddle disappointed and disenchanted that the game is going to overtime feeling like they had it. We showed some resiliency and some fight,” he said.

“I was pretty annoyed going into the overtime. Our guys kept a pretty good focus and they battled and they fought and they found a way to win the game in overtime. It wasn’t one of our better games. I didn’t feel like we played very intelligently. Arizona had a lot to do with that. They were certainly well-prepared and they did a great job. The things that I thought would cause us some problems in the game really did cause us some problems. Our guys found a way to hang in there and make some plays and finally make a few free throws to win the game.”

CHARITY STRIPE NOT SO CHARITABLE

There is only one way to say it: Florida was awful from the free throw line Wednesday. The Gators opened the contest 0-7 from the line and went 1-9 in the first half. Then stuck at 2-14 with just 2:59 left in regulation, Florida turned it on and hit 5-6 to close the second half and 8-10 in overtime. The Gators hit 13 of their finaly 16 attempts (thanks mostly to senior point guard Erving Walker) but still shot just 47 percent in the game.

“I’ve never ever seen in my life 2-for-14 at one point from the free throw line. I could go out right now and make 2-for-14 left handed. Two-for-14? Everybody in this room could make 2-for-14,” Donovan said emphatically. “I thought we drained ourselves where we had some really good possessions in the first half that led to us getting fouls. We had them in foul trouble in the first half. We got to the bonus very early in the first half, and we just completely killed runs and momentum with our free throw shooting.

“It’s not one guy. It’s our whole team, and we have to do a better job. In overtime and coming down the stretch we did do a better job making free throws. The two biggest things in the game that I look at in the stat sheet is Walker and [Kenny Boynton – what they were from the field – and our free throw shooting. Those two things were somewhat disappointing.”

More on Walker and Boynton’s shooting is coming from OGGOA on Thursday.

YEGUETE THE WORM

Aside from sophomore center Patric Young – who scored a career-high 25 points on an efficient 12-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds and only three fouls in 38 minutes – sophomore forward Will Yeguete was the star of the show Wednesday. In addition to hitting all three of his shots, Yeguete grabbed eight rebounds (three offensive) and four steals; however that stat line barely equates to his impact in the game.

Yeguete was all over the place Wednesday, helping create turnovers and rebounding opportunities, playing great defense and often being in the right place at the right time on loose balls. Donovan noticed that and offered up some great praise.

“He drives me nuts from the free throw line, he really does, but the thing about him is all of those intangible things, I really do think he is like Dennis Rodman on a smaller scale. He just rebounds. He’s like The Worm. He just comes up with plays, deflections, steals, hands on balls, offensive rebounds, [keeping] stuff alive. He gives incredible effort,” he said.

“All of those things that people look at as being very unglamorous, he makes them pretty glamorous by the way he approaches it and attacks. He’s the one guy on our team that, when you see him do those things, you can clearly say, ‘Wow, that’s what coaches love. They love those guys.’ Fans love guys and appreciate guys that give that kind of effort and do all the little things. He’s got a great ability to do that. He’s really special in that area.”

Yeguete’s teammates also appreciate him. “That’s my best friend and my roommate as well,” Young said after the game. “Just to find him it is that kind of bond you just can’t really describe. Whoever he’s guarding, he’s going to give them hell. If anybody crosses over in front of him, he’s going to get his hand on it.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on why he didn’t play redshirt junior G Mike Rosario in the second half: “I thought Mike played really good. He was really locked in; he was focused. We got down, and I really tried to keep defense out there with [Casey] Prather in the second half, Yeguete in the second half and Scottie Wilbekin. I thought we really needed to get defensive stops. With Arizona’s speed and quickness son the floor there in the second half, Mike was out there but you could tell he was a step behind on some plays. We were getting put into some rotations. If it wasn’t for Mike in that first half, we probably could have been down 10-12 points going into the half. I think he really responded well from the Syracuse game.”

» Walker on the game: “Coach just said keep playing. It’s a 40-minute game. Teams make runs, and that’s a good team we played. For us to come out and win after the way we played today – not that we played bad. Pat played great for us. He picked up the slack for everybody. For us to come out with a win, that’s great for us tonight.”

» Walker on how he thinks the team played: “We feel like we got away with one. Coach D told us great game. We were resilient and he was proud of us. He told us there were nights the ball just won’t go in the hole and we have to defend and rebound to still win games. Our crowd tonight helped us out a lot tonight being at home. With the way we shot the ball, it was huge for us. [...] We got kind of lucky tonight.”

» Young on the team’s mindset in overtime: “Everyone was like, ‘Man, that was crazy he called that.’ But you got to keep playing. We say it’s a 40-minute game, but today it was a 45-minute game. We had to keep our mindset that we were going to play hard defensively, we were going to take care of the ball and we were going to knock down free throws. We didn’t shoot very good free throws today, but in the clutch we knocked them down and in overtime.”

» Freshman G Bradley Beal on the foul with five seconds left: “Nobody agreed with the call but you have to turn around and start focusing on overtime. You have to stay composed and just play basketball.”

» Beal on the Rowdy Reptiles: “The crowd was pretty hype – it was the sixth man for us.”

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No. 12 Florida escapes Arizona 78-72 in overtime

It took five minutes longer than they probably hoped, but the No. 12 Florida Gators (6-2) came away from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Wednesday evening with a 78-72 victory over the Arizona Wildcats (6-3) in overtime.

Florida sophomore center Patric Young posted his third double-double of the season, scoring a career-high 25 points on 12-of-15 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds (six offensive). Gators senior point guard Erving Walker, who struggled from the floor in regulation, scored seven points in overtime and finished with 14 to go along with five assists and five turnovers.

Arizona jumped ahead to an early lead but was also sloppy at the start of the game, turning the ball over four times in the first four minutes of the contest. Junior forward Erik Murphy and redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario checked in for the first time less than five minutes into the game and each hit a three-pointer as part of a 12-2 run that gave Florida a 14-7 advantage and its first lead of the game.

Rosario wound up going 3-for-5 from downtown for 10 points in the first half, and the Gators were supported early on by Young, who scored 12 of the team’s first 20 points. However, the Wildcats ended the half on a 6-0 run – capped by a buzzer-beating floater by G/F Kevin Parrom – and took a one-point lead into halftime.

Tied at 41 with 15 minutes to play, Arizona used an 11-4 run to take a 52-46 lead and eventually jumped ahead seven points. Florida struggled shooting again in the second half but eventually put together a 14-4 run of their own to jump ahead 66-63 with just eight seconds remaining.

After bringing the ball across the court, the Wildcats called timeout inbounded it to F Solomon Hill, who was accidentally fouled by sophomore G/F Casey Prather. Hill was hit with his back to the basket beyond the arc, but the referees believed he was in the act of shooting and rewarded Arizona with an opportunity to tie the game on three foul shots.

Hill hit all three of his attempts to knot it at 66, and a half court three-pointer by Walker clanged off the backboard at the end of regulation.

Walker scored first for the Gators in overtime and hit five three throws down the stretch to help solidify a win for Florida. Three Wildcats (including Hill) fouled out in the extra period, and the Gators never trailed once in overtime.

Florida opened the contest 0-for-7 from the line and went just 1-for-9 in the first half. The Gators were only 2-of-14 from the charity stripe with 2:59 to play in regulation but hit 5-of-6 to close the second half and 8-of-10 in overtime to finish the game by connecting on 13 of their final 16 attempts.

Arizona was efficient from the line all evening (11-of-15) and cut down on their turnovers, coughing the ball up just four times in the second half after giving Florida 10 extra chances in the first 20 minutes.

Aside from Young, who shot 80 percent from the field, the Gators made just 30 percent of their attempts from the floor. UF shot 25.9 percent from downtown, outrebounded the UA 40-31 (17-7) and only turned the ball over 11 times.

Though it may not show up on the stat sheet, sophomore F Will Yeguete was a presence for Florida throughout the game, grabbing eight boards (three offensive) and four steals while scoring seven points on 3-for-3 shooting. He was involved in numerous other rebounds and turnover situations.

Gators junior G Kenny Boynton had his worst shooting performance of the season, hitting just 2-of-11 shots (1-for-6 from downtown) for nine points. Freshman G Bradley Beal also scored nine points, adding six rebounds and two assists.

UF will travel to Jacksonville, FL on Friday for a neutral site contest against Rider. The game will air live on Comcast Sports South (check your local listings).

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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