Fastbreak: Gators earn needed signature win as Florida obliterates No. 9 West Virginia 88-71

In desperate need of a signature win, Florida Gators basketball got just that on Saturday, defeating a top-10 opponent for the first time in 13 tries with a dominant 88-71 victory over the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida (14-7) put together a dominant offensive performance for the second time in three games as it rained threes and was extremely efficient from the charity stripe. West Virginia (17-4) simply could not get back into the game after a hot start for the Gators.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Saturday’s important win with nine quick-hitters:

It was over when: Though Florida held the lead for 39:49 of the 40-minute contest and was up by nearly 20 late in the game, West Virginia had its opportunities to come back. It was not until a dagger three-pointer by sophomore guard Chris Chiozza with 2:35 to play that all hope was lost for the visitors. The Gators jumped ahead 84-67 and scored eight-straight points to earn a game-high 21-point advantage with 1:03 to play. Chiozza finished 4-of-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from downtown with 10 points, six assists and two steals, though he did cough up the ball a team-high six times.

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Gameday – Big 12/SEC Challenge – Florida Gators vs. No. 9 West Virginia: How to watch, game picks

Florida Gators basketball has struggled against the best teams its faced this season. On Saturday, it faces its toughest test of the 2015-16 campaign (as well as its last nonconference game until a potential postseason run) when it hosts the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers as part of the 2016 Big 12/SEC Challenge at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Here’s a look ahead at the game: what to know and how to watch Florida-West Virginia.

Viewing information

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 12 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN (Mark Jones, Kara Lawson)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com
Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app (iPhone) / (Android)
SiriusXM: 84 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Continue Reading » Gameday – Big 12/SEC Challenge – Florida Gators vs. No. 9 West Virginia: How to watch, game picks

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Florida basketball announces 2015-16 non-conference schedule, including Michigan State

Florida Gators basketball on Tuesday officially announced its 2015-16 nonconference schedule, which includes a long-rumored but previously unannounced road game against Michigan State.

The two programs have agreed to a home-and-home series with the Spartans scheduled to take a trip to face the Gators in Gainesville during the 2017-18 campaign, one year after Florida’s $60 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center will be completed.

UF is 3-3 all-time against MSU, famously falling to Tom Izzo’s team during the 2000 NCAA National Championship, the program’s only title-game loss.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since we played Florida in the national championship game,” Izzo said in a school release. “To be able to mark the 15th anniversary with a game against the Gators is a special opportunity.”

The programs will actually square off three times in a four-year period with Florida and Michigan State also scheduled to play as part of a four-team barnstorming event set for major cities across the country in the 2018-19 season.

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4 BITS: Florida Gators to take on Oklahoma State in 2015 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic

1 » Florida Gators basketball was previously announced to be participating in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons, but its opponent for the 2015 event was not announced until earlier this week. Florida will take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the second game of the event, which will be led off with a showdown between Florida State and Florida Atlantic. UF is 2-0 all-time against OSU with the schools not meeting since 2000. The Gators are 14-2 all-time in the event, which will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, on Dec. 19.

The rest of Florida’s announced 2015-16 nonconference slate includes a season opener against Navy in the 2015 Veterans Classic on Friday, Nov. 13 in Annapolis Maryland, and a spot in the 2015 Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The latter event includes two home games (North Carolina A&T – Nov. 16, Vermont – Nov. 25) and two neutral-site contests (Saint Joseph’s – Nov. 21, Old Dominion/Purdue – Nov. 22). UF will also play at Miami in the second game of a home-and-home series, and it will host West Virginia on Jan. 30, 2016 in the third annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Reports out of Fort Myers have the Gators taking on FGCU on Nov. 27 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, and early offseason rumors noted that Florid and Michigan State were discussing a home-and-home series that could begin next season.

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Florida Gators to host West Virginia on Jan. 30 in 2016 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Florida Gators basketball’s 2015-16 non-conference schedule is taking shape after information was released on Thursday about its opponent for the third annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. It was announced that Florida will host the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida, on Jan. 30, 2016.

Florida went head-to-head with Kansas during the first two incarnations of the challenge, going 1-1 against the Jayhawks. The Gators are 4-3 all-time against the Mountaineers with the teams not having played since the 2003-04 campaign.

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Florida, Michigan State talking basketball series

Florida Gators and Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball are discussing a home-and-home series for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, according to ESPN.com.

The Gators – which originally planned a barnstorming tour of the state of Florida while a $60 million renovation to their home arena, the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, forced them out of Gainesville, Florida, for the spring 2015 semester – are now looking to rearrange their schedule and add some home games as the renovation has been postponed one year.

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2 BITS: SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Miller, Hernandez

1 » The Southeastern Conference and Big 12 announced Thursday that the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which began last season, will undergo a significant format change. Instead of being 10 games played over three days in the fall, it will now be 10 games played in one day early in the spring. That date has been set for next season with all 10 games tipping off on Saturday, January 30, 2016, though match-ups have not yet been determined at this time. “Moving the Big 12/SEC Challenge later in the season will raise the profile of this event and give our coaches, student-athletes and fans the attention that it deserves,” said Mike Slive, the SEC’s commissioner. The 10 games will all be played on ESPN networks with the four SEC teams not given match-ups going head-to-head against each other on the SEC Network that day.

The Florida Gators wound up playing a home-and-home series against Kansas in the first two iterations of the event, hosting the Jayhawks last season and travelling to Lawrence, Kansas, this fall. Florida is expected to host an SEC/Big 12 Challenge game in 2015-16, though renovations to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center would have proved that difficult if the game was played during its previously-scheduled window. Whether the event was moved to help accommodate UF remains to be seen, but the scheduling adjustment was not just made for next season but for the duration of the event’s existence.

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Fastbreak: Florida embarrassed in second half as No. 11 Kansas battles back to win 71-65

No. 24 Florida Gators basketball (3-4) absolutely collapsed in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, blowing an 18-point lead and falling 71-65 to the No. 11/11 Kansas Jayhawks (6-1) in the 2014 SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

The Gators are now under .500 through seven games for the first time since 1998.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: The biggest scoring stretch of the game – a 23-3 run with 18 points combined by Cliff Alexander and Wayne Selden Jr. – included four Florida turnovers and the visitors going 1-for-10 from the field; it lasted 7:53 and gave Kansas a 60-52 lead with 3:21 to play. Overall, the Jayhawks outscored the Gators by 21 points in the second half with UF at one point failing to hit a field goal for 7:37.

Significant stretches: With the Gators leading by a game-high 18 points, the Jayhawks got right back in the contest with a 9-0 run that cut KU’s deficit to single digits with about 14 minutes left in the game. It allowed Kansas to hang in long enough to end the game with its incredible scoring stretch as Florida melted down at Allen Fieldhouse.

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