No. 13 Florida Gators vs. No. 22 Texas A&M

Event: 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic
Location: BankAtlantic Center – Sunrise, FL [Capacity: 20,737]
Time: 2:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: FSN/Sun Sports
SiriusXM: 218/201
Live Updates: @OnlyGators (periodic score updates)

(13) FLORIDA GATORS (22) TEXAS A&M AGGIES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Billy Kennedy
Record: 7-2 Record: 8-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -11; O/U 145

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 Saturday afternoon.

Story: Florida extends Billy Donovan through 2015-16

Donovan on free throws, Boynton’s homecoming | Rider post-game notes

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Texas A&M are tied 1-1 in the all-time series between the two teams, each winning one game at home. This is the first time the schools will square off on a neutral court and the first time they will play at all since 1992.
» The Gators are 3-2 under Donovan against Big 12 teams and 13-10 all-time.
» Florida is 8-2 all-time in the OBBC and will be participating in the event for the 11th time in the last 12 years.
» The Gators have made a three in 660 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» Florida has connected on 10 or more treys in six of eight 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 players are shooting better than 40 percent from downtown.
» UF has outrebounded eight of nine opponents this season.
» Florida is ranked No. 3 in scoring offense (86.8 points), No. 11 in scoring margin (19.6 points), No. 6 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57), No. 10 in assists (18.3) and No. 2 in three-pointers (11.3 per game) nationally as of Dec. 11. The Gators are also 317th (out of 338 teams) in free throw shooting (59.6 percent).
» UF has the second-best winning percentage against ranked opponents (.546) among SEC teams dating back to 1999-2000.
» The Gators are the first ranked opponent the Aggies have played this season.
» Texas A&M is on a six-game winning streak.
» The Aggies are ranked No. 4 in scoring defense (51.4 points), No. 2 in field goal defense (33.4 percent) and No. 4 in three-point defense (23.6 percent) nationally as of Dec. 11. Texas A&M is also No. 7 in rebounding (41.3).
» More than half of the Aggies’ points this season have come in the paint (53.1 percent).
» Texas A&M has held their last five opponents to averages of 44 points per game, 30.4 percent shooting from the floor and 17.8 percent shooting from downtown.
» The Aggies are 8-0 when leading at halftime or with five minutes to play.
» Texas A&M is 6-0 when shooting more free throws than their opponent and 7-0 when out-rebounding their opponent.
» The Aggies are 23-31 all-time against SEC schools.

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 116 consecutive games with 55-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 (3,462) and treys (236) but also ranks second in points (1,455), assists (423) and steals (134) as well as third in free throws (357). Walker is No. 12 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No. 5 in assists, No. 8 in free throws, No. 5 in threes made, No. 4 in treys attempted (619) and No. 10 in minutes. He is the only player on the team making more than three quarters of his free throws (76.3 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 (50.0 percent from the field and 45.7 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 (1,169) and fourth in three-pointers (184). He has hit a trey in 25-straight games.
» 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 15.1 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the line (second best on the team).
» 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 11.6 points, 7.9 boards and 1.6 blocks per game.
» Sophomore forward Will Yeguete (#15)…who is Florida’s do-everything player, averaging 6.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals in 22.6 minutes per game. The Gators’ primary frontcourt reserve, Yeguete has been thrust into the starting lineup recently 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 17.7 minutes of court time each game, averaging 9.8 points while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc.

TEXAS A&M
» F Ray Turner (#35)…who is the Aggies tallest starter at 6’9” and is averaging 13 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 63.8 percent from the floor in 24 minutes per game. He will likely be tasked with going up against Young throughout the contest.
» F Khris Middleton (#22)…who returned to the starting lineup a week ago after missing seven games due to suffering a partially torn meniscus in the season opener. Middleton is averaging 15.0 points, 4.5 boards and a pair of assists in the two contests he played this year.
» G Elston Turner (#31)…who sees the court the most for Texas A&M, averaging 29.3 minutes per game. Turner averages 12.1 points, 3.4 boards and 2.2 dimes while shooting 40 percent from downtown and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe.

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12/15: Donovan on free throws, Boynton, Beal

With No. 13 Florida Gators basketball set to face the No. 22 Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday at the 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Thursday to discuss what preparations he and the team have been making over the last week for the squad’s next game.

ADDRESSING THE FREE THROW WOES

Donovan has been adamant over the last two weeks that he is doing whatever he can to help his players improve their free throw shooting. Having so much time off (though the Gators were studying and taking tests most of the time) has given Florida the ability to work on it even more than they normally would during a game week.

“It’s something we’ve got to get better at, something we’ve spent time on. That’s probably an area of the game we’ve maybe underachieved in right now because we have guys who are better shooters from the line than maybe what we’ve displayed up to this point in time,” he said Thursday.

“There’s certainly guys that got to go up there with more confidence and a better focus. You have to work on it. There’s nothing you can necessarily really do. If there was something you could do as a coach, every team would shoot great from the free throw line. It’s something they’ve got to really focus in on and something they’ve got to really understand the importance of. And they do. They understand that and want to get better at it. I think they’re willing to work at it. As our focus gets narrowed in that area, I’m hopeful we’ll get better there.”

Junior guard Kenny Boynton noted that Donovan has “been trying to solve it this whole week” by having the players shoot either 50 or 100 free throws after every practice. He also calls them to the line late during practice and has them shoot free throws with the threat of running suicides if a player misses one or both.

BOYNTON RETURNING HOME

A product of South Florida, Boynton loves playing in the OBBC each year as it gives his family and friends a chance to watch him on the court without having to make the trek up to Gainesville, FL.

“I got a couple people coming this year. It’s definitely a fun game going back down there. It’s right down the street from American Heritage, where I went to high school at,” he explained. “It should be fun. It definitely feels like a home game. Everyone will be there, but when we get on the court I have to just get out there and play.”

Donovan likes playing in Sunrise for a different reason.

“The one thing that’s great is that we always want to recruit Broward and Dade County. We’ve had obviously a fair number of players from that part of the state. Being able to get down there is good,” he said. “I know we’ve got a large contingency of Gator alumni and boosters that are in South Florida. Since I’ve been here, I’ve always wanted to try to play a game down there once a year because it’s been good for our program and it’s been good to be able to get down there and play.”

He’s also expecting to see the good version of Boynton on Saturday, something that was absent against Arizona but reappeared versus Rider.

“In the Arizona game, he’s 2-or-11 from the field and really hadn’t distributed the ball and made the passes that he had been doing this year. The thing that he’s got to understand is that the game is a long time; the game is a long game. If you’re efficient on offense – you take high percentage shots and you shoot a good percentage – you’re always going to have – in our style of playing – an opportunity to score,” Donovan explained.

“The thing for him to take his game to another level is to do what he did against Rider: He goes out there and shoots a high percentage from the field, he gets five or six assists and no turnovers, he plays a really good floor game and he shot the ball well. I still believe that if Kenny Boynton is not scoring and/or making shots, it is not the end of the world for him and our team because there’s so many other things he does.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on the No. 1 thing the team needs to improve on aside from free throw shooting: “Us getting more cohesive on offense – that’s going to be important. Patric [Young]’s game against Arizona helped because I think our guys were able to see clearly – when he gets the ball with angles in the right areas to score, he can certainly score and we found him. Our guys understanding how and when to find him is important. Patric understanding when and where to throw it out of the post is important. Spacing when there’s penetration, Erving [Walker] not getting caught up in the air, us not driving the ball in too deep or taking ill advised shots.”

» Donovan on how freshman G Bradley Beal is developing: “He’s far along just because of his mental capability to be able to handle what’s being thrown at him. I do think right now there are going to be ups and downs for him because he’s a freshman and not every game is going to be perfect and ideal. He’s learned, he’s grown, he’s gotten better. He’s understanding the speed of the game; the speed of the game was probably something that was maybe a little bit surprising to him. You think you’re open and you have time to shoot the ball and those gaps close pretty quickly. The length of people running at you in relationship to maybe what was running at him in high school.”

» Beal on what has changed for him: “I’m probably not as nervous as I was. It started to come natural, and I’m starting to play within the flow of the game. I’m not really forcing anything; I’m really just relaxing and enjoying the game.”

» Beal on an adjustment he has to make: “Probably getting my shot off quicker because Coach Donovan has told me it’s taking a lot to get my shot off. Really just trying to quicken my shot, quicken my release and get the ball in the air faster.”

» Beal on if it is tough to shoot faster: “It’s pretty easy to do because you really don’t change anything. You just have to focus on jumping quicker and releasing it quicker. The form doesn’t change or anything like that. Coach Donovan said most of my shots are missed because of my legs. I’m starting to play lower to the ground and getting my legs more involved in my game.”

» Boynton on pushing the tempo against Texas A&M: “It’s definitely important. The most important thing is for us to get back on defense. We watched them play yesterday, and the coach preaches getting a good shot in the first seven seconds. They do a good job at that. I don’t think they like playing much in the half court, so we’re definitely going to try to limit their fast break possessions.”

» Boynton on Beal’s attitude this year: “His attitude has been positive since day one. I think Brad is doing a great job overall. He works hard, stays after in practice. Even when its not going his way, he keeps a positive attitude. Young players usually get down on themselves in games, and I think that’s a great thing about Brad.”

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Florida basketball’s complete 2011-12 schedule

Florida Gators basketball on Monday announced the times for all of the team’s non-conference games this season, officially completing the 2011-12 schedule. In non-conference action, Florida will face six opponents who took part in the 2011 NCAA Tournament; it will also participate in four events scattered throughout the country – the Global Sports Shootout, Florida Citrus Sports Shootout, BIG EAST/SEC Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

During non-conference and Southeastern Conference competition combined, the Gators will play 18 games on national television including the conference’s season finale.

Below is the team’s complete 2011-12 schedule:

Date/TimeGator BaitResult
11/6 at TBD (TBD)vs. Barry (Exh.)
11/14 at TBD (SECN)vs. William & Mary
11/17 at 7:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Miami
11/21 at TBD (TBD)vs. La.-Monroe
11/26 at 9:30 pm (AXS)vs. GeorgetownB4A
11/27 at TBD (TBD)Wisconsin or UABB4A
11/28 at TBD (TBD)vs. TBDB4A
12/5 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at KansasSEC-Big 12
12/8 at TBD (TBD)vs. Yale
12/12 at TBD (TBD)vs. Texas So.
12/14 at TBD (TBD)vs. Jacksonville
12/20 at TBD (TBD)vs. Wake ForestOBBC
12/30 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)at Florida State
1/3 at 2:00 pm (CBS)vs. UConn
1/7 at 7:00 pm (SECN)at So. CarolinaSEC
1/10 at 7:00 pm (FSN)vs. Miss. StateSEC
1/15 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. AuburnSEC
1/17 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at GeorgiaSEC
1/20 at 7:00 pm (ESPN)vs. LSUSEC
1/24 at 8:00 pm (SECN)at Ole MissSEC
1/27 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at AlabamaSEC
1/31 at 1:00 pm (CBS)vs. ArkansasSEC
2/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at VanderbiltSEC
2/7 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)vs. KentuckySEC
2/12 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. Ole MissSEC
2/14 at 6:30 pm (SECN)at Texas A&MSEC
2/18 at 7:00 pm (SECN)vs. VanderbiltSEC
2/21 at 1:00 pm (CBS)at LSUSEC
2/24 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at MissouriSEC
2/28 at TBD (ESPN/2)vs. TennesseeSEC
3/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Texas A&MSEC
3/7 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at KentuckySEC

SCHEDULE NOTES

» Donovan’s son, Billy Donovan, Jr., is a guard for Catholic University.
» Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship in 2010-11.
» Florida will play four games in the state of Florida but not in Gainesville.
» As OGGOA first reported on April 28, the Gators’ participation in the GSS is part of a five-team “tournament” featuring a collection of games played at different arenas.
» Florida will play in the FCSS for the second-straight season; UF lost to Central Florida in the series’ inaugural game at the Amway Arena last season.
» Twelve teams each from the Big East and SEC will each compete in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge from Dec. 1-3.
» Transfer guard Mike Rosario will square-off against the team he left, Rutgers.
» It is the fourth-straight year the Gators will play a non-conference opponent on Jan. 3 (3-0) and second-straight year they will play one on New Years Eve day.
» Florida will face two pairs of SEC opponents in three-day spans. The Gators will go to Ole Miss on Jan. 26 before playing Mississippi State at home on Jan. 28 and will host South Carolina on Feb. 2 before Vanderbilt comes to town on Feb. 4.
» UF will play nine games in February (28 days) but compete just seven times in January (31 days). The Gators usually play seven games in February and have not played more than eight since at least the 1998-99 season.
» Florida’s will face Kentucky on Senior Day, a game that is also the SEC’s final regular season contest of the season.
» This will be the first SEC regular season without the conference utilizing divisions. Nevertheless, the Gators will play their traditional SEC East opponents twice (home-and-home) and SEC West opponents once.
» Florida has a three-game conference home stretch from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4 and never plays more two consecutive games on the road (Feb. 14 and 18, Feb. 25 and 28).
» The 2011 SEC Tournament will take place from March 8-11 in New Orleans, LA.

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Florida Gators basketball’s 2011-12 schedule

Florida Gators basketball announced the team’s 2011-12 schedule on Thursday. In non-conference action, Florida will face six opponents who took part in the 2011 NCAA Tournament while also participating in four events scattered throughout the country – the Global Sports Shootout, Florida Citrus Sports Shootout, BIG EAST/SEC Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

During Southeastern Conference competition, the Gators will play 11 games on national television including the conference’s season finale.

Below is the team’s complete 2011-12 schedule:

Date/TimeGator BaitResult
11/6 at TBD (TBD)vs. Barry (Exh.)
11/14 at TBD (SECN)vs. William & Mary
11/17 at 7:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Miami
11/21 at TBD (TBD)vs. La.-Monroe
11/26 at 9:30 pm (AXS)vs. GeorgetownB4A
11/27 at TBD (TBD)Wisconsin or UABB4A
11/28 at TBD (TBD)vs. TBDB4A
12/5 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at KansasSEC-Big 12
12/8 at TBD (TBD)vs. Yale
12/12 at TBD (TBD)vs. Texas So.
12/14 at TBD (TBD)vs. Jacksonville
12/20 at TBD (TBD)vs. Wake ForestOBBC
12/30 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)at Florida State
1/3 at 2:00 pm (CBS)vs. UConn
1/7 at 7:00 pm (SECN)at So. CarolinaSEC
1/10 at 7:00 pm (FSN)vs. Miss. StateSEC
1/15 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. AuburnSEC
1/17 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at GeorgiaSEC
1/20 at 7:00 pm (ESPN)vs. LSUSEC
1/24 at 8:00 pm (SECN)at Ole MissSEC
1/27 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at AlabamaSEC
1/31 at 1:00 pm (CBS)vs. ArkansasSEC
2/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at VanderbiltSEC
2/7 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)vs. KentuckySEC
2/12 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. Ole MissSEC
2/14 at 6:30 pm (SECN)at Texas A&MSEC
2/18 at 7:00 pm (SECN)vs. VanderbiltSEC
2/21 at 1:00 pm (CBS)at LSUSEC
2/24 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at MissouriSEC
2/28 at TBD (ESPN/2)vs. TennesseeSEC
3/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Texas A&MSEC
3/7 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at KentuckySEC

SCHEDULE NOTES

» Donovan’s son, Billy Donovan, Jr., is a guard for Catholic University.
» Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship in 2010-11.
» Florida will play four games in the state of Florida but not in Gainesville.
» As OGGOA first reported on April 28, the Gators’ participation in the GSS is part of a five-team “tournament” featuring a collection of games played at different arenas.
» Florida will play in the FCSS for the second-straight season; UF lost to Central Florida in the series’ inaugural game at the Amway Arena last season.
» Twelve teams each from the Big East and SEC will each compete in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge from Dec. 1-3.
» Transfer guard Mike Rosario will square-off against the team he left, Rutgers.
» It is the fourth-straight year the Gators will play a non-conference opponent on Jan. 3 (3-0) and second-straight year they will play one on New Years Eve day.
» Florida will appear on national television at least 13 times this season.
» The Gators will face two pairs of SEC opponents in three-day spans. Florida will go to Ole Miss on Jan. 26 before playing Mississippi State at home on Jan. 28 and will host South Carolina on Feb. 2 before Vanderbilt comes to town on Feb. 4.
» UF will play nine games in February (28 days) but compete just seven times in January (31 days). The Gators usually play seven games in February and have not played more than eight since at least the 1998-99 season.
» Florida’s will face Kentucky on Senior Day, a game that is also the SEC’s final regular season contest of the season.
» This will be the first SEC regular season without the conference utilizing divisions. Nevertheless, the Gators will play their traditional SEC East opponents twice (home-and-home) and SEC West opponents once.
» Florida has a three-game conference home stretch from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4 and never plays more two consecutive games on the road (Feb. 14 and 18, Feb. 25 and 28).
» The 2011 SEC Tournament will take place from March 8-11 in New Orleans, LA.

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Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2011-12 non-conference schedule

Florida Gators basketball announced the team’s 2011-12 non-conference schedule on Wednesday. Florida will face six opponents who took part in the 2011 NCAA Tournament while also participating in four events scattered throughout the country – the Global Sports Shootout, Florida Citrus Sports Shootout, BIG EAST/SEC Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

“We’ve made it a practice to play a difficult non-conference schedule, and this is perhaps the toughest one yet,” head coach Billy Donovan said in an official school release. “That’s something that really helps prepare us for the NCAA Tournament. We’re also looking forward to playing games in front of our great fans from several different areas of Florida, and we host some exciting matchups on our home court, as well.”

Below is the official 2011-12 non-conference schedule:

Date/TimeGator BaitResult
11/6 at TBD (TBD)vs. Barry (Exh.)
11/14 at TBD (SECN)vs. William & Mary
11/17 at 7:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Miami
11/21 at TBD (TBD)vs. La.-Monroe
11/26 at 9:30 pm (AXS)vs. GeorgetownB4A
11/27 at TBD (TBD)Wisconsin or UABB4A
11/28 at TBD (TBD)vs. TBDB4A
12/5 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at KansasSEC-Big 12
12/8 at TBD (TBD)vs. Yale
12/12 at TBD (TBD)vs. Texas So.
12/14 at TBD (TBD)vs. Jacksonville
12/20 at TBD (TBD)vs. Wake ForestOBBC
12/30 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)at Florida State
1/3 at 2:00 pm (CBS)vs. UConn
1/7 at 7:00 pm (SECN)at So. CarolinaSEC
1/10 at 7:00 pm (FSN)vs. Miss. StateSEC
1/15 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. AuburnSEC
1/17 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at GeorgiaSEC
1/20 at 7:00 pm (ESPN)vs. LSUSEC
1/24 at 8:00 pm (SECN)at Ole MissSEC
1/27 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at AlabamaSEC
1/31 at 1:00 pm (CBS)vs. ArkansasSEC
2/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at VanderbiltSEC
2/7 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)vs. KentuckySEC
2/12 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. Ole MissSEC
2/14 at 6:30 pm (SECN)at Texas A&MSEC
2/18 at 7:00 pm (SECN)vs. VanderbiltSEC
2/21 at 1:00 pm (CBS)at LSUSEC
2/24 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at MissouriSEC
2/28 at TBD (ESPN/2)vs. TennesseeSEC
3/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Texas A&MSEC
3/7 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at KentuckySEC

SCHEDULE NOTES

» Donovan’s son, Billy Donovan, Jr., is a guard for Catholic University.
» Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship in 2010-11.
» Florida will play four games in the state of Florida but not in Gainesville.
» As OGGOA first reported on April 28, the Gators’ participation in the GSS is part of a five-team “tournament” featuring a collection of games played at different arenas.
» Florida will play in the FCSS for the second-straight season; UF lost to Central Florida in the series’ inaugural game at the Amway Arena last season.
» Twelve teams each from the Big East and SEC will each compete in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge from Dec. 1-3.
» Transfer guard Mike Rosario will square-off against the team he left, Rutgers.
» It is the fourth-straight year the Gators will play a non-conference opponent on Jan. 3 (3-0) and second-straight year they will play one on New Years Eve day.

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Gators return to Florida Citrus Sports Shootout

Florida Gators men’s basketball has agreed to participate in its fourth event of the 2011-12 season, announcing Thursday that they will face the Stetson Hatters in the second annual Florida Citrus Sports Shootout at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL

It will be the second-straight season the Gators will be playing in the game; Florida lost to Central Florida 57-54 last year.

UF will begin next season by participating in the five-team Global Sports Shootout along with Ohio State, North Florida, Jackson State and Wright State. The event is a collection of games played at different arenas. Florida will face Ohio State on the road, Wright State at a neutral site (Tampa, FL) and both North Florida and Jackson State at home in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators will square-off against Syracuse in Syracuse, NY as part of the 2011 BIG EAST/SEC Challenge on Dec. 2 and are also set to participate in the 2011 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL on Dec. 17.

TBD – vs. North Florida – Global Sports Shootout (Gainesville, FL)
TBD – vs. Jackson State – Global Sports Shootout (Gainesville, FL)
Nov. 15 – at Ohio State – Global Sports Shootout (Columbus, OH)
Nov. 21 – vs. Wright State – Global Sports Shootout (Tampa, FL)
Nov. 28 – vs. Stetson – Florida Citrus Sports Shootout (Orlando, FL)
Dec. 2 – at Syracuse – BIG EAST/SEC Challenge (Syracuse, NY)
Dec. 17 – vs. TBD – Orange Bowl Basketball Classic (Sunrise, FL)

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4/1: Health of Florida’s linemen a concern, etc.

With the Florida Gators 2011 spring practice now in full swing, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media at the conclusion of the third week on Friday. Maintaining a serious and balanced demeanor, Muschamp discussed a number of topics including the team’s health at the line of scrimmage, how many days of practice have actually been successful and how both players and coaches are performing thus far.

OFFENSIVE LINE BANGED UP

An ongoing story throughout spring practice is that linemen on both sides of the ball are missing much-needed time on the field due to injury. Another player was officially added to that list Friday. Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Nick Alajajian, who wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday that he tore his meniscus in practice, will officially miss the remainder of the spring after undergoing surgery that will sideline him for approximately three months. Also currently out of action is junior tackle Xavier Nixon, who sprained his ankle but should be back in action on Monday.

Asked how many players are functional now on the offensive line, Muschamp was quite forthcoming in his reply. “We’re working about seven. That’s total bodies, too. That’s all we got,” he said. “Injuries are part of the game. There’s nobody feeling sorry for the Gators right now, I can tell you that. You got to have other guys step up. One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. Somebody else has got to step up. You build depth on your football team through these situations; you find out a lot more about your football team in these situations. It’s something that happens. We don’t have any excuses around here.”

Because Florida is getting thin up front on both sides of the ball, the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on April 9 may be a bit of a mix-and-match between the two squads. “We need to have a good functional day within teaching our schemes. We’re too thin to divide up,” Muschamp said. “I don’t want to get a guy matched up in a bad mismatch issue and you can’t get the ball off in some situations. That certainly can happen, especially as thin as we are. That’s the operation we’re going to have. We met as a staff [Friday] morning, talked about the spring game and the procedures we will go through.”

PLAYMAKERS PROVIDING A MEASURE OF CONSISTENCY

The Gators had a tough time making dynamic plays on offense in 2010, but Muschamp was happy to discuss how some of his offensive playmakers have performed so far in practice. Speaking of the wide receivers, he called redshirt juniors Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Omarius Hines the most consistent while raving about sophomore Quinton Dunbar’s ability to stretch the field in the vertical passing game. “He’s a guy that’s really a weapon outside,” said Muschamp of Dunbar. He also noted that redshirt senior Deonte Thompson “has done some nice things” and that redshirt sophomore Andre Debose (sprained ankle) will be back in action early next week.

Above anyone else, Muschamp went out of his way to praise redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed’s progress. “Jordan Reed is having a really good spring at tight end,” he said. “He’s a match-up issue for a defense. What are you going to put on him in your mans and your zones? He’s able to stretch the field vertically, block on the perimeter, block on the edge, block at the point of attack. I’ve been very pleased with his spring.” Getting the ball to these players will be redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, of whom Muschamp also offered positive reviews. “He’s managing out football team very well,” he said. “He’s got a lot on his plate. It’s a quarterback system as far as in the run game and pass game. We’re very pleased with where he is at this point.”

PRACTICING HARD AND INCREASING FLEXIBILITY

Out of the 10 practices that Florida has held up to this point, Muschamp said that nine have been great. The other? He doesn’t think the team made much progress in that one. However, he thinks the team is responding great overall. “The guys are working very hard. We’ve had great off days of watching film and learning,” he said. “For the most part, they’re paying attention to great detail in what we’re trying to do and learning what we do. It’s not just about learning what to do, learning why we do it is important, too.”

Stressing the ability for his players to perform at multiple positions, Muschamp noted that redshirt junior defensive end Lerentee McCray has also been playing some SAM linebacker and that redshirt junior defensive tackle Earl Okine has also seen time at end. “There’s been some pleasant surprises for us in some cross-training work,” he said. The biggest surprise is certainly redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison, who moved from guard to center and is learning the position at a fast pace. “Jon Harrison at center is a guy that’s done a nice job,” Muschamp said. “There’s an awful lot on the center as far as snapping and blocking. If you’ve never done it before, there’s an awful lot to it. I’ve been pleased with his progress.”

NOTES & QUOTES

» Sophomore running back Mack Brown had successful surgery on a broken fibula and remains on track to return to action in July.

» On what has been worked on recently in practice: “We’ve really [done] a lot of situational work as far as red zone, third down, coming off the goal line, end of game situations that come up. We’ve got a very experienced staff of guys that have come up with a lot of different situations that we’ll practice and go through. Because in this league, we’re going to have four or five games that will come down to the end of the game, and you’ve got to be good at the end of the game. [It’s about] making good decisions – not just as coaches but as players.”

» On if four-star QB Jacoby Brissett has received any teaching yet: “Jacoby came up during his spring break and spent three or four days with us sitting in the meetings and being out at practice. He will spend more time obviously when summer comes in. We’ve got a video playbook that we go through with our players that we put together on both sides of the ball that’s more teaching terminology, formations, sets, routes, run game. We have a pretty extensive video that you can learn from so when you get here you’re familiar with the terminology.”

» On allowing redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey to talk to the media after he was shunned in 2010: “I don’t know about last year. Chris is going to be a productive football player for us. I trust him. Chris Rainey has worked tremendously hard since I’ve been here. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. There’s been nothing that has been any glitch as far as how he’s performed on- and off-the-field for us since I’ve been at the University of Florida. That’s really all I go off of. We all go through a maturing stage in our life. Whatever happened, maybe he grew up from and learned from.”

» On offensive line coach Frank Verducci: “Frank is a great teacher. He’s not a holler and a screamer. Most of these offensive line coaches, they just want to hear themselves talk. Frank doe s a great job of teaching; he teaches the players very professionally. He does a great job of communicating with players about what to do and how to do it, demands great effort. I’ve been very pleased with their execution up to this point.” He also said that Verducci and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis have a noticeably great working relationship that is already paying dividends for the team.

» On defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson: “Travaris Robinson is an outstanding football coach. He has tremendous knowledge and appeals to young people. They gravitate to him as a coach, as a person. He does a phenomenal job on the field as far as coaching, getting the message across and the players playing for him. Motivation of players is as much important to me as far as teaching is concerned, that’s part of it. He certainly inspires learning in our group.”

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Florida elevated in Top 25 polls after big win

The Florida Gators (8-2) took a step forward in the latest ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls after defeating the then-No. 6/6 Kansas State Wildcats 57-44 at the 2010 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, FL, on Saturday.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 10 (1,048)No. 8 (550)-
2W 77-69 vs. North Florida1-0No. 11 (995)No. 10 (535)-
3L 53-59 at No. 20 Wisconsin
W 86-56 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock
2-1No. 16 (619)No. 14 (359)-
4W 67-53 vs. Southern
W 79-59 vs. MTSU
4-1No. 15 (729)No. 13 (395)-
5W 86-60 at Jacksonville
W 67-66 vs. Florida State
6-1No. 15 (758)No. 12 (426)-
6L 64-65 at No. 12 UConn6-2No. 19 (434)No. 19 (258)-
7W 67-61 vs. No. 13 Kansas7-2No. 16 (699)No. 17 (296)-
8W 77-75 vs. Memphis
W 66-49 vs. Fresno State
9-2No. 13 (881)No. 14 (383)-
9W 76-34 vs. Savannah State10-2No. 12 (915)No. 13 (413)-
10W 67-58 vs. Richmond11-2No. 10 (1,052)No. 11 (473)12
11W 74-58 vs. South Carolina
W-OT 84-82 at Arkansas
13-2
(2-0 SEC)
No. 7
(1,205)
No. 7
(573)
8
12W 72-50 vs. Georgia
W 68-61 at Auburn
15-2
(4-0 SEC)
No. 6
(1,303)
No. 6
(639)
8
13W 68-62 at Alabama
W 67-41 vs. Tennessee
17-2
(6-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,436)
No. 4
(694)
5
14W 62-51 at Mississippi State
W 69-36 vs. Texas A&M
19-2
(8-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,482)
No. 4
(720)
3
15W 68-58 vs. Missouri
W 78-69 vs. Alabama
21-2
(10-0 SEC)
No. 3
(1,477)
No. 4
(711)
5
16W 67-58 at Tennessee
W 69-59 at Kentucky
23-2
(12-0 SEC)
No. 2
(1,543)
No. 2
(752)
4
17W 71-66 vs. Auburn
W 75-71 at Ole Miss
25-2
(14-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(791)
3
18W 57-54 at Vanderbilt
W 79-61 vs. LSU
27-2
(16-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,606)
No. 1
(793)
3
19W 72-46 at South Carolina
W 84-65 vs. Kentucky
29-2
(18-0 SEC)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(793)
2
Post-
season
W 72-49 vs. Missouri
W 56-49 vs. Tennessee
W 61-60 vs. Kentucky
32-2
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
No. 1
(1,610)
No. 1
(794)
1
FinalW 67-55 vs. Albany
W 61-45 vs. Pittsburgh
W 79-68 vs. UCLA
W 62-52 vs. Dayton
L 53-63 vs. UConn
36-3
(18-0 SEC)
(3-0 SECT)
(4-1 NCAAT)
-No. 3
(735)
-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas State, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baylor, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Georgetown, Illinois, Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, Brigham Young, Memphis, Minnesota, Louisville, UNLV, Notre Dame, Florida, Texas

This Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Kansas State, Michigan State, Purdue, Kentucky, Baylor, Minnesota, Memphis, Tennessee, Florida, Notre Dame, Illinois, Texas, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, Louisville

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas State, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baylor, Villanova, San Diego State, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan State, Georgetown, Brigham Young, Kentucky, Memphis, Purdue, Louisville, Minnesota, Texas, UNLV, Notre Dame, Texas A&M
+ Florida received 55 votes (good for No. 27)

This Week 1-25: Duke (64), Ohio State (1), Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Georgetown, Kansas State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, Baylor, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Central Florida, Texas A&M

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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