Fastbreak: Florida upends Wake Forest 63-50

By Jordan McPherson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators basketball (7-4) won its fourth-straight game by taking down the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-6) on Saturday at the BB&T Center in the second game of the 2014 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida.

UF led by nine at halftime with poor shooting from both sides keeping the game close throughout, but the Gators finished strong with a 17-5 run on their way to a 63-50 victory.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s action with 11 quick-hitters:

It was over when: After seeing the team struggle to score for most of the game, redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith hit a much-needed three-pointer and junior guard Michael Frazier II finished at the rim on back-to-back possessions to give Florida a 10-point lead with 3:37 left in the contest.

Significant stretch: Trailing 10-7 just six minutes into the game, the Gators went on a 15-0 run over 3:40 to jump ahead 22-10 with 10:12 remaining in the first half. UF hit 5-of-6 shots and all three of its attempts from beyond the arc during the run, taking a lead that it would hold for the remainder of the game.

Prominent player: For the second-straight game, Finney-Smith led the Gators in scoring, racking up 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting. He also paced Florida by hauling in six of the team’s 28 rebounds.

Dynamic debut: Redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy, a transfer from Duke and the younger brother of former Gators F Erik Murphy, also made waves in his Florida debut. After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, Murphy scored nine points on 2-of-4 shooting with a 5-for-6 mark from the charity stripe. He also recorded four assists as well as a pair of blocks and steals in 27 minutes.

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Donovan addresses Murphy’s eligibility, Carter’s health as Florida preps for Wake Forest

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Thursday to preview Saturday’s game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the 2014 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic and discuss his team as it heads into the holiday break.

GATORS MAY ADD MUCH-NEEDED DEPTH

A mid-season transfer from Duke, redshirt sophomore forward Alex Murphy has yet to suit up for Florida in a game but looks poised to take the court for the first time in Saturday. All Murphy needs to be cleared for action is for the school to post his fall semester grades, which would immediately make him eligible as it would mark the conclusion of the semester.

“We’re just trying to remain optimistic he’ll get an opportunity to play on Saturday,” Donovan said.

“This week I’ve tried to put him in a little bit more to try to get him kind of caught up and up to speed and what he needs to do. And he’s a smart kid, Alex. He picks up things pretty quickly. So I’m not really worried about that,” he added.

With Murphy practicing with the Gators for the last year, he is capable of being brought into the regular rotation without much of an adjustment. His knowledge base will go a long way to helping Donovan factor him in to his plans from the get-go.

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Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule

Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule was officially announced on Friday when the Southeastern Conference released its full league schedule for next season.

The Gators will face at least four (but up to six) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while participating in special non-conference events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC/Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida.

Florida will face Georgetown in its opening Battle 4 Atlantis game. Other potential opponents over the final two rounds include Butler, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

UF also takes on Kansas in an SEC/Big 12 Challenge rematch in Lawrence, Kansas. Last season, the Gators took down the Jayhawks 67-61 in Gainesville.

Florida meets Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic and links up again with UConn in non-conference action for the third time in the last two seasons.

The Huskies were one of two teams to beat the Gators during the 2013-14 season, winning 65-64 on a buzzer beater in Stoors, Connecticut, on Dec. 2 and 63-53 during the Final Four in Arlington, Texas. This year, UConn travels to Gainesville.

In-state rivalry games at home against Miami (Nov. 17) and on the road at Florida State (Dec. 30) also highlight UF’s non-conference slate.

The Gators open their 18-game SEC schedule on the road at South Carolina before playing consecutive home games against Mississippi State and Auburn. Florida plays its permanent rival, Kentucky, twice this season but will also take on LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in home-and-away games.

The Gators and Wildcats will meet twice on Saturday; the first game could wind up hosting ESPN College GameDay, while the second is the regular-season finale for both teams.

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Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2014-15 non-conference schedule

Florida Gators basketball released the team’s entire 2014-15 non-conference schedule on Tuesday, though times and network assignments will not be announced until closer to the start of the season.

The Gators will face at least three (but up to seven) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while also participating in special events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC-Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

Potential opponents for Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis include Butler, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

“This difficult schedule will not only prepare our team for league and postseason play, it delivers a terrific lineup of marquee games for our fans,” said Mike Hill, UF’s executive associate athletic director for external affairs, in a school release. “From hosting the defending national champions, to renewing the Miami rivalry, to playing in perhaps the toughest tournament ever assembled, this schedule has it all for the Gators.”

Below is the official 2014-15 non-conference schedule:

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Florida, Miami schedule home-and-home series

In a move that has been taking shape for weeks, a home-and-home men’s basketball series spanning the next two seasons between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes was officially announced on Tuesday.

Along with the announcement was the first confirmed date for a Florida-Miami showdown. The Gators and Hurricanes will square off on Nov. 17, 2014 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The contest will be UF’s second game of the 2014-15 campaign with the first unscheduled as of press time.

UM will then host its in-state rival in either November or December of 2015 at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables.

Florida is 45-22 all-time against Miami on the hardwood with the schools last playing a home-and-home series in 2004-05; the visiting team won each game.

The Gators and Canes have squared off just four times in the last 23 seasons, however, all of those showdowns have come since 2002.

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Fastbreak: No. 16 Florida rolls Fresno State 66-49

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

The No. 16 Florida Gators (9-2) rolled the Fresno State Bulldogs (6-6) on Saturday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL, picking up a 66-49 victory in the second game of the 2013 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

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

It was over when: Florida found its three-point stroke. A trio if triples from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II and point guards senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill stretched the Gators lead to as much as 15 early in the second half. Fresno State made small runs, but UF’s lead never shrunk below nine. Wilbekin finished with 11 points, three assists and six rebounds on the afternoon.

Prominent player: Senior forward Casey Prather continued to impress for the Gators, going 7-of-10 for 14 points with six boards. Prather, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, provided much-needed offense for Florida, something the team was without most of the game, especially in the first 20 minutes.

Standout stat: The Gators out-rebounded the Bulldogs 47-24, providing Florida with numerous opportunities for second-chance points. This edge led to the Gators scoring 16 of 23 first-half points inside the paint. UF would score more than half (34) of its total points (66) down low.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
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Gameday: No. 16 Florida Gators vs. Fresno State

Event: 2013 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic
Location: BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL [Capacity: 20,737]
Time: 4:30 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports (Rich Waltz, Mark Wise, Allison Williams)
SiriusXM: 119/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: None | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(16) FLORIDA GATORS FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Rodney Terry
Record: 8-2 Record: 6-5
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mountain West
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -17 | O/U [OFF]

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Fresno State have never squared off on the hardwood, but UF is 3-0 under Donovan against teams out of the Mountain West.
» The Gators are 12-2 all-time in the OBBC and will be participating in the event for the 13th time in the last 14 years.
» This will be the fourth contest in a six-game span that Florida will be playing away from its home court. UF is 1-2 in those three prior games.
» The Gators are 1-0 in games played at neutral sites this season.
» Florida is 2-0 this season against top 25-ranked opponents with both of its losses coming on the road against teams currently ranked in the top 10 nationally. UF defeated a ranked opponent away from its home court on Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 17, 2011 when it faced Texas A&M in the OBBC.
» The Gators are 61-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida’s defense allowed 75 points to Memphis on Tuesday, the most given up in a regular season game since March 4, 2012.
» The Gators are now 4-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign.
» Florida defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.

Read the rest of the Florida-Fresno State gameday preview…after the break!
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12/19: Donovan demands defense, Young steps up

No. 16 Florida Gators (8-2) head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Thursday, two days before his team takes on the Fresno State Bulldogs (4-5) at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL as part of the 2013 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

ON THE OFFENSIVE ABOUT DEFENSE

Suffice to say, Donovan is not pleased with Florida’s defense, and it his problems start with the Gators’ inability to effectively defend the three-point line. Through 10 games, UF has allowed 6.1 threes per game with teams shooting 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. In its recent three-game stretch against ranked opponents, Florida allowed teams to shoot 42.3 percent from downtown.

“Right now I think, when you look at us defensively, we’re not where we need to be or want to be. One of our challenges has been the three-point line in terms of the percentage,” he explained. “I don’t think teams here of late have made an enormous amount of three-point shots against us. But when you have teams going 7-for-14, 6-for-11, those things – that’s a problem, percentage-wise. For us, against the highest level of competition we’ve played against here so far, we’re giving up almost 40 percent from the three-point line. The overall stat sheet is a little bit deceiving, but we’ve got to do a better job there. This will be a test for us to get better because they’re going to test us from the three-point line pretty much every possession.”

Donovan was particularly disappointed by the Gators’ overall play against Memphis. UF’s assist-to-turnover ratio was abhorrent at 0.76 due to Florida coughing the ball up 17 times on the evening. The Gators are currently ranked 200th nationally in assists, averaging just 12.6 per contest.

“I didn’t think that we played to the level, to the standard that we want to play in. I’m hopeful that coming out of our game our guys can see… we got to get a lot, lot better,” he said. “I’m measuring that based on where I think we can be. … We played a really, really poor second half against Kansas; we did not pay well. I thought we were sporadic at best in the Memphis game.

“I don’t look at our team right now and sit there and say that we beat two ranked teams that we’re playing very good basketball right now. We’re not playing to the standard or level that I would expect our team to play at right now.”

He added: “There’s things to me that are disappointing because we’re dealing with older guys that know. That, to me, is a very, very fine line. You start to question as a coach, ‘How bad do you want to be great as a team?’ Because if you want to be great as a team, here are the things that need to get corrected.”

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