Gators get revenge with 79-60 win at Gamecocks

Looking to avenge their only Southeastern Conference East division loss of the season, the No. 17/19 Florida Gators (19-5, 8-2 SEC) traveled to Columbia, SC on a mission and took down the South Carolina Gamecocks (13-9, 4-5 SEC) 79-60 Wednesday evening at the Colonial Life Arena.

Junior point guard Erving Walker led the Gators with a season- and game-high 25 points, and senior forward Chandler Parsons added 14 points and 12 rebounds for his third-straight double-double and fourth in the last six games.

Florida started the game on a 9-0 run as South Carolina missed their first eight shots from the field. The Gamecocks answered back by scoring seven-straight points but failed to even-up with the Gators. UF closed the first half with an 8-0 run to take a 14-point lead and entered the locker rooms up 38-27 after USC hit a three toward the end of the half.

Though Florida outplayed South Carolina early on, both teams coughed up 10 turnovers; the Gators shot 60.7 percent from the floor while the Gamecocks only hit 39.3 percent of their attempts to start the game.

Florida kept their collective foot on the pedal in the second half, using a 9-2 run to jump ahead 53-35 with 13:58 left. The Gators would eventually take a game-high 19-point lead, 57-38, with 11:32 remaining and ended up tying that mark on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Kenny Boynton with the clock running down at the end of the game.

Walker scored his 25 points on 7-for-9 shooting and hit 4-of-5 attempts from downtown, while Parsons nearly had the team’s first triple-double since 2009 by also registering eight assists. Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, who made all six of his first-half shots for 14 points, finished with 16 to go along with six boards.

South Carolina G Bruce Ellington, who scored 23 points against Florida on Jan. 15, was held to a team-high 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting. F Sam Muldrow added 10 points and led the Gamecocks with six rebounds.

With their first win in Columbia since 2008, Florida has now defeated South Carolina in 21 of their last 27 meetings. Head coach Billy Donovan won his 350th career game in orange and blue Wednesday as he watched his team improve to 16-1 when holding opponents under 70 points this season. The victory over the Gamecocks also marks the first time the Gators have won six road games since the 2005-06 season.

Having now won 11 of their last 13 games, Florida returns home to face Tennessee on Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN.

Photo Credit: Mary Ann Chastain/Associated Press

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No. 17 Florida at South Carolina Gameday Preview

Location: Colonial Life Arena – Columbia, SC [Capacity: 18,000]
Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: SEC Network
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 17 FLORIDA GATORS USC GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Darrin Horn
Record: 18-5 (7-2) Record: 13-8 (4-4)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -4.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against South Carolina 36-22 and has won 20 of the last 26 meetings in the series. However, the Gators have lost back-to-back contests against the Gamecocks including a 72-69 defeat in January. UF is also 20-11 against USC under Donovan, which includes a 5-3 record in Columbia.
» Eleven of the last 13 games (including January’s contest) between Florida and South Carolina have been decided by six points or less.
» The Gators have won 13 of their last 16 games with 10 victories against RPI top 100 teams. Florida is 5-1 in true road games this season and can reach six victories on the road for the first time since 2005-06.
» UF is 4-1 against the SEC East this season after finishing 3-7 in the division last year.
» The Gators earned back-to-back victories against ranked opponents for the first time since 2007 after defeating then-No. 24 Vanderbilt and then-No. 11 Kentucky last week.
» Florida improved to 15-1 when holding opponents under 70 points this season after limiting Kentucky to 68 points on Saturday.
» Donovan is one victory shy of notching 350 wins with the Gators.
» Florida bests South Carolina in three of four major statistical categories including points per game 71-70.3 (117th-152nd), assists per game 14-11.6 (100th-278th) and field goal percentage .453-.415 (102nd-278th). However, the Gamecocks and Gators are relatively even in rebounding with USC holding a slight advantage 39.0-38.9 (27th-29th). UF ranks 14th in RPI (.6352) and sixth in strength of schedule nationally compared to their opponent being 95th (.5444) and 117th, respectively.

LAST TIME OUT…

Florida and South Carolina will square off for the second time this season; the Gamecocks defeated the Gators 72-69 in Gainesville, FL on Jan. 15. In the contest, Florida rallied back from a double-digit deficit but finished 12-for-22 from the charity stripe and missed their final five throw attempts, points which could have won the game.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (11.0) while leading the Gators with 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Parsons ranks No. 1 among active SEC players in rebounds (753), No. 3 in points (1,297) and No. 4 in assists (284) and steals (117). He has notched consecutive double-doubles and now has five this season alone.
» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.2 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.413) and three-point percentage (.373). Walker also leads Florida in turnovers (59) and became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points earlier this season.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.5 percent as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but is struggling with consistency in his field goal percentage. Boynton is only shooting 35.6 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second on the team in scoring with 13.0 points per game and hits 83.3 percent of his free throws.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage as a starter. Tyus became just the fifth player under Donovan to reach 500 career field goals, accomplishing the feat last Tuesday against Vanderbilt.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging just over 17 minutes per game. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5:1), while Young averages 3.3 points and 3.4 boards off the bench.
» South Carolina G Bruce Ellington…who leads his team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and dishes out 3.4 dimes per contest. Ellington posted 23 points against Florida on Jan. 15, his second-highest total of the season.
» Gamecocks F Sam Muldrow and G Ramon Galloway…who each average 10.8 points per game as the team’s other two scoring threats. Muldrow adds 7.2 boards and 3.5 blocks in 28.6 minutes per contest.

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Free throws doom Gators in loss to Gamecocks

Rallying back from a double-digit deficit they were stuck in most of the game, the Florida Gators (13-4, 2-1 SEC) eventually fell 72-69 to the South Carolina Gamecocks (11-5, 2-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL after missing three free throws inside the final four minutes of the game.

The Gators were only 12-for-22 from the line as a team and failed in their bid for a come-from-behind win even though they were provided ample opportunities as the second half drew to a close. Florida missed five-straight free throws including four on three-point plays, and junior point guard Erving Walker uncharacteristically missed the first shot of a one-and-one.

The team’s leading scorer and best free throw shooter, Walker finished the game with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting but missed two key free throws. Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton, the team’s second leading scorer, was an anemic 3-for-10 (1-of-4 from downtown) with nine points.

Tied at 18 in the first half, South Carolina went on a 15-2 run over five minutes to take a game-high 13-point lead. The Gamecocks did a great job of keeping Gators redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin out of the paint in the opening half, limiting him to two baskets on seven shot attempts.

South Carolina kept their double-digit lead for most of the second half, that is until Florida went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 59. Senior forward Chandler Parsons and Boynton hit back-to-back treys, Walker followed up with a layup, and senior F Alex Tyus added one of his own to complete the run.

The Gamecocks responded and went back up 63-59, but Walker drained a three from the corner to bring the game within one with 1:40 remaining. South Carolina F Sam Muldrow hit a dagger trey, and G Bruce Ellington connected on a runner to force fouls and free throws with the clock winding down.

Ellington led the Gamecocks with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Three other South Carolina starters, including Muldrow, scored 10, and the team connected on 73.3 percent of their free throw attempts.

Gators freshman C Patric Young, who played 19 minutes off the bench, scored a career-high 12 points while going 5-for-6 from the field. Macklin finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tyus added 10 points.

Florida, which had won five-straight games and eight of their last nine contests, had both streaks snapped while losing their third home game of the season. The Gators failed to score 70 points for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, and were out-rebounded (36-32) for only the third time this season.

UF hopes to rebound from their tough home loss as they travel to Auburn for their next game on Thursday at 7 p.m. The contest will air live on ESPN.

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Gamecocks rally in second half to top Gators 77-71

Devan Downey may be the South Carolina Gamecocks‘ star player, but fellow senior guard Brandis Raley-Ross stole the show Wednesday night in Columbia, SC. Raley-Ross’ 17 second half points and four three-pointers led the Gamecocks (14-9, 5-4 SEC) to a comeback 77-71 home victory over the Florida Gators (17-7, 6-4 SEC).

Though Florida only missed seven shots in the first half and was shooting 68.2 percent to 37.8 percent for South Carolina, an astounding 12 turnovers (including five in the first 4:17 of the game) left them with only a four-point lead at halftime.

This trend would continue after the break, with the Gators surrendering three turnovers in the first 4:30 of the second half and a five more before the final buzzer sounded. The Gamecocks were stingy, only giving up six all night compared to UF’s season-high 20.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s Florida at South Carolina game story after the jump!
Continue Reading » Gamecocks rally in second half to top Gators 77-71

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