3/24: Defensive-minded (1) Florida begins preparations for offensive juggernaut (4) UCLA

Head coach Billy Donovan spoke with the media on Monday, two days after the No. 1 Florida Gators (34-2) advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2014 NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season and sixth time int he last nine years.

Florida will face the No. 4-seed UCLA Bruins (28-8) on Thursday at approximately 9:45 p.m. in Memphis, TN at the FedEx Forum. The game will air live nationally on CBS, tipping off 30 minutes after the conclusion of the other South Region showdown between No. 10-seed Stanford and No. 11-seed Dayton.

The Gators are 3-0 against the Bruins in NCAA Tournament play with all three games played in the prior eight seasons. UF had to go through UCLA to capture both of its national titles, winning 73-57 to bring home the 2006 championship and 76-66 in the Final Four of the 2007 tournament. Florida is 7-2 all-time in the Sweet 16 with a 6-1 record under Donovan including six-straight wins dating back to 2000.

INJURY UPDATES

Despite being seen after the Pittsburgh game with ice on his knee, senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin said he “feels fine” and that the injury was simply a bruise that he likely suffered by bumping knees during the game.

Donovan said he has not heard any concerns from Florida’s training staff in regards to Wilbekin’s health. “We were off [Sunday] but no complaints. The trainer didn’t say anything. [Wilbekin] went in, he was diagnosed with a bruise or just kind of banged knees – actually thought at first it was some cramps because he’s had some cramping issues during the course of the year,” he said. “But there’s no issues right now, at least that I’ve been aware of or made aware of as it relates to him practicing and going forward.”

Continue Reading » 3/24: Defensive-minded (1) Florida begins preparations for offensive juggernaut (4) UCLA

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12/15: Florida at Arizona post-game report

No. 5 Florida Gators basketball (7-1) choked away a late six-point lead by committing three turnovers in the final minute and eventually fell 65-64 on the road to the No. 8 Arizona Wildcats (8-0) on Wednesday in Tucson, AZ. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Arizona are now even at 2-2 in the all-time series between the two teams with each of the last two games going down to the wire.
» Entering the game, the Gators had only given up 26 or more points in a single half twice in 14 halves. UF allowed the Wildcats to score 29 and 36 in the first and second half, respectively.
» Arizona outscored Florida 15-0 combined in the final 1:21 of the first half and 0:56 of the second half.
» The Gators are now 32-2 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game.
» Florida outrebounded its hosts 34-26 overall and 14-8 on the offensive glass.
» The Wildcats shot 13 more free throws than the Gators (21-8) on the night.
» Florida led by a game-high 11 points in each half.
» The Gators have not defeated a top-10 opponent in a true road game since 2003 and have never taken down a top-10 non-conference opponent in a true road game.

PLAYER NOTES

» Senior guard Kenny Boynton had one of the worst performances of his career, going 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from downtown to finish with five points. He also missed his only free throw attempt on a one-and-one at the end of the game. Boynton has only made two of his last 20 three-point attempts over the last three games and is shooting a combined 8-of-33 in that span. He did make his 113th career start on Saturday, which tied him with Erving Walker for fifth on the school’s all-time list.
» Conversely, redshirt senior G Mike Rosario had one of the best games of his Gators career save for his two turnovers in the final minute. Rosario was 5-of-8 from the floor, made both of his threes and converted all four of his free throws on the way to a team-high 16 points. He also had a team-high four assists.
» Junior center Patric Young continued to display his improved energy, but only scored eight points, did not get to the free throw line and only grabbed two boards in 35 minutes on the court.
» Junior forward Erik Murphy (3-for-5) and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (3-for-3) were also extremely efficient from downtown. The duo combined for 26 points on the evening. Murphy added seven rebounds, while Wilbekin contributed two dimes.
» Arizona G Nick Johnson made threes when it counted, going 3-for-4 from downtown for 15 points. Cohort Mark Lyons added 14 points for the Wildcats and hit the game-winning layup with seven seconds left in regulation.
» A game-high 18 points came from F Solomon Hill, who converted all six of his free throws attempts and made 5-of-9 shots from the field.

Read what Donovan had to say and see much more…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/15: Florida at Arizona post-game report

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Late turnovers doom Florida in loss to Arizona

No. 5 Florida Gators basketball (7-1) blew a six-point lead with a less than a minute left to play, turning the ball over three times and allowing the No. 8 Arizona Wildcats (8-0) to pull off a stunning 65-64 come-from-behind victory at the McKale Center in Tucson, AZ on Saturday evening.

Leading 64-58 following a three-pointer by junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, Florida had possession with 1:01 to play and was looking to throw the ball in when redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario committed the team’s first turnover.

Following two Arizona free throws and a timeout by head coach Billy Donovan, Rosario threw the ball out of play again while trying to force it to Wilbekin. The Wildcats capitalized on the Gators’ miscue by converting a layup, but UF still retained a two-point lead with 43 seconds left to play.

Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton was stripped while trying to dribble the ball up the court against the press on the very next possession. Arizona only converted one of two attempts from the charity stripe and fouled Boynton with 21 seconds left. Boynton missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Wildcats senior G Mark Lyons hit the go-ahead layup with seven seconds left to clinch the victory for the home team.

The Gators led most of the game but fell flat on their faces at the end of each half. Florida was outscored a combined 15-0 in the final 1:21 of the first half and final 0:56 of the second half, committing four turnovers and two shooting fouls in that time.

An early 9-0 run by the Gators allowed them to take a quick 14-7 lead. A few minutes later, Florida capped a 10-2 scoring stretch with a three-pointer by senior forward Erik Murphy to inflate that advantage to a game-high 11 points with 3:57 left to play.

The Wildcats, despite committing eight first-half turnovers, were able to get right back in the contest by closing the opening period on an 8-0 run over the final 1:21. Arizona ended the half behind 32-29 but had all of the momentum heading into the break.

UF was able to start the second half like the first, using an 8-2 run to take back its double-digit lead and extending it once again to 11 points with 10 minutes to play after Rosario drained a three from the corner.

It did not take long for UA to get right back in the contest as the Wildcats scored seven-straight points in just over a minute and eventually reduced their deficit to three with less than five minutes remaining. Arizona then took it to Florida over the final minute of the game to pull off the come-from-behind win.

The Gators and Wildcats each had three players score in double figures. Lyons (14), senior F Solomon Hill (18) and sophomore G Nick Johnson (15) led the way for Arizona, while Rosario (16), Murphy (15) and Wilbekin (11) put up most of Florida’s points.

UF’s trio was a combined 8-for-10 from beyond the arc, which made up for an overall lackluster performance by Boynton, who was just 2-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from downtown. Murphy (five), Boynton (three) and Rosario (three) turned the ball over plenty throughout the game but especially in the second half and the final minute.

Arizona took 21 foul shots on the evening, 13 more than Florida, which only put up eight in 40 minutes. The Gators won the rebounding battle 34-26.

Florida will be forced to put this game out of its collective mind as the Gators must turnaround and face Southeast Louisiana on Wednesday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on Sun Sports (check your local listings).

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Gameday: (5) Florida Gators at (8) Arizona

Location: McKale Center – Tucson, AZ [Capacity: 14,538]
Time: 10:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Dave Pasch, Miles Simon)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 5 FLORIDA GATORS No. 8 ARIZONA WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Sean Miller
Record: 7-0 Record: 7-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pacific-12
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -1.5 | O/U 134.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 2-1 all-time against Arizona and 2-0 under Donovan. UF has won eight-straight games against Pac-12 opponents and are 11-9 all-time against the conference including 8-2 under Donovan. UA has lost three-straight games to SEC foes.
» This is the first time that two top-10 teams will meet in the McKale Center since 2004.
» Four of the Gators’ regular starters are averaging double figures.
» Florida has held five of its seven opponents to 49 points or fewer. The Gators have only given up 26+ points in a single half twice in 14 total halves this campaign.
» UF dominated in its season opener, holding Alabama State to just nine first-half points and setting a school record in the shot clock era for fewest allowed in a half.
» Florida is 32-1 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game.
» The Gators were just 3-5 against top-25 opponents last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams. UF is currently scheduled to take on seven top-25 opponents as part of the 2012-13 campaign and is already 1-0 in such games.
» Florida is second nationally in scoring defense (48.3 points), third in scoring margin (+25.3 points) and seventh in field goal percentage defense (.349).
» The Gators are second nationally in fouling, committing 13.1 per game, and 134th nationally in assists, dishing just 13.7 per game.
» Arizona ranks 10th in rebound margin (+11.4), while Florida checks in at 13th (+10.7) in that category nationally.
» The Wildcats get most of their offense from three starters that combine for 39.3 points and 9.4 assists per game. All three shoot better than 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
» Arizona has four players that average 4.4-6.7 rebounds per game each.

Read the rest of the Florida-Arizona preview…more after the break!
Continue Reading » Gameday: (5) Florida Gators at (8) Arizona

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No. 12 Florida Gators vs. Arizona Wildcats

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

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(12) FLORIDA GATORS ARIZONA WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Sean Miller
Record: 5-2 Record: 6-2
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 Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Allen’s Alley: Previewing the 2011-12 Gators | The Countdown: 35-23, 15-1

Donovan on Rosario and Arizona | Room for improvement | Syracuse post-game

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Arizona are tied 1-1 in the all-time series with both contests played on neutral courts. Wednesday’s game is the beginning of a home-and-home series between the two schools as UF will play at UA next season.
» The Gators are 7-2 under Donovan against Pac-12 teams; the Wildcats are the first men’s basketball team from their conference to ever play at the O’Dome.
» Florida has won seven consecutive games against teams in the Pac-12.
» Arizona is 13-23 all-time against SEC teams.
» The Gators have made a three in 653 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» UF has connected on 10 or more treys in all six of seven games this season, failing to do so only on the road against Syracuse. Hitting double-digit threes in six-straight games is the longest streak under Donovan.
» Florida has outrebounded six of seven opponents this season.
» The Gators are ranked No. 4 in scoring offense (87.6 points), No. 11 in scoring margin (21.3 points), No. 11 in assists (17.9), No. 15 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.40) and No. 2 in three-pointers (11.6 per game) nationally as of Dec. 4. Florida is also 77th in turnovers (12.7) and 284th in free throw shooting (62.1 percent).
» UF has the second-best winning percentage against ranked opponents (.546) among SEC teams dating back to 1999-2000.
» Arizona upset No. 1 overall seed Duke in the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
» The Gators are the first ranked opponent the Wildcats have played this season.
» Arizona last played in the state of Florida in March 2009.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Arizona last met in on Nov. 28, 2003 at the MassMutual Classic in Springfield, MA with both teams ranked in the top 10. The Gators defeated the Wildcats 78-77 behind 27 points from Matt Walsh, who went 5-for-8 from downtown (all in the second half). David Lee posted a double-double, Anthony Roberson registered 15 points and Bonell Colas hit a game-winning layup with 7.3 seconds left thanks to a deft inbounds pass by Christian Drejer. UA was led by Chris Rogers (career-high 17 points) and Channing Frye (double-double).

INJURY/ABSENCE REPORT

FLORIDA
» Active: Junior forward Erik Murphy (knee)

ARIZONA
» Inactive: Freshman guard Josiah Turner (suspension)

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 114 consecutive games with 53-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 (3,398) and treys (231) but also ranks second in points (1,429), assists (414) and steals (132) as well as third in free throws (350). Walker is No. 6 on the school’s all-time scoring list, No. 8 in free throws made, No. 5 in threes made and No. 4 in treys attempted (604).
» 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 (51.1 percent from the field and 47.3 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 (1,134) and fourth in three-pointers (178).
» 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 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 69.4 percent from the line (second best on the team).
» Sophomore center Patric Young (#4)…who joins 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 opened the season with consecutive double-doubles and is posting averages of 9.6 points, 7.3 boards and 1.7 blocks per game.
» 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 18.1 minutes of court time each game, averaging 10.6 points while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor and 45.9 percent from beyond the arc.

ARIZONA
» F Solomon Hill (#44)…who is the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week due to averaging a team-high 12.4 points per game and second-best 7.8 rebounds while shooting 48.4 percent. Hill has posted double-digit points in six-straight games.
» F Jesse Perry (#33)…who is averaging 31.1 minutes per game and has grabbed 73 rebounds on the season with 20 coming on the offensive glass. He’s blocked two shots in three games this season and has only fouled out of one game.
» G Kyle Fogg (#21)…who is third on the team in minutes (29.0) but second in scoring with 11 points per game. Fogg hits 41.4 percent of his threes and shoots an efficient 81.3 percent from the line.

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