The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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Florida baseball tops USC, stays alive in SEC

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

No. 1 seed Florida Gators baseball (38-20) fought off elimination on Thursday in the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament, responding to a two-run deficit by scoring seven unanswered runs and earning a 7-2 victory over the No. 4 seed South Carolina Gamecocks (42-16) at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama.

South Carolina jumped out to an early lead through its first three frames, but Florida answered with a three-run bottom of the third and never looked back.

The Gators may not be near the top of many offensive categories within the league, but UF sure knows how to capitalize on opponent mistakes.

Continue Reading » Florida baseball tops USC, stays alive in SEC

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Damontre Harris leaves Florida Gators for good

Center Damontre Harris, who sat out two seasons with the Florida Gators due to NCAA transfer rules and team discipline, will leave the program without stepping on the court and playing a single game.

Harris’s departure was first reported by CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein but confirmed minutes later by Florida on Wednesday.

A source close to the team told OnlyGators.com last month that Harris gave tremendous effort in practice during the spring semester and was impressing on the court. However, a second source noted last week that Harris reverted to old form when the offseason began, indicating that his time at UF would likely to come to an end before the 2014-15 campaign as he was already missing team activities.

Continue Reading » Damontre Harris leaves Florida Gators for good

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No. 25 Florida baseball bests No. 4 South Carolina in dramatic fashion; Gators lead SEC East race

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

No. 25 Florida Gators baseball (23-13, 9-6 SEC) sits atop the Southeastern Conference East division after coming through big over the weekend by taking two of three from the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks (28-7, 8-5) in dramatic fashion on the road at Carolina Stadium in Columbia, SC.

Florida jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the first inning of the series opener, but it was the only run it could muster against South Carolina lefty Jordan Montgomery, who struck out eight batters. A one-out walk issued in the fifth by UF freshman right-handed pitcher Logan Shore (7 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, BB, 2 K) snowballed into a three-run inning for USC, which added an insurance run in the seventh and held on for the 4-1 victory.

The Gamecocks looked to be on their way to securing a series win during game two on Saturday, but the Gators turned things around in a major way with just six outs to go.

Continue Reading » No. 25 Florida baseball bests No. 4 South Carolina in dramatic fashion; Gators lead SEC East race

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Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida routs South Carolina 72-46 as Michael Frazier sets Gators threes record

Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II scored a career-high 37 points and set a new school record with 11 three-pointers in a single game as the No. 1 Florida Gators (28-2, 17-0 SEC) dismantled the South Carolina Gamecocks (11-19, 4-13 SEC) in the second half and ended the game on a 33-11 run on the way to a 72-46 win at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC on Tuesday night.

Florida extended its school-record winning streak to 22 games and continued a number of other program-best marks including winning 17 SEC games in a single season.

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with seven quick-hitters:

It was over when: After draining five three-pointers in the first half, Frazier was held without one for the first nine minutes of the second period. Suddenly, with his team leading by just four points, Frazier exploded with four made triples in a span of 3:27 to extend Florida’s advantage to 22 points with 7:36 to play.

Prominent player: He eventually finished with 11 threes, breaking a 17-year school school mark for most in a single game (Joe Lawrence, nine, 1986). Those 11 treys were also the third-most made in a single game by an SEC player and the most ever in an SEC league game. Frazier’s 37 points were a career-high, matching Joakim Noah (March 1, 2006) for most in a single game under head coach Billy Donovan. He finished 11-for-18 from beyond the arc on the evening, also becoming the first UF player since Anthony Roberson (2005) to attempt that many threes in a single contest.

“The ball felt good in warm-ups. My shot looked good, felt good. And then in the game, my teammates did a great job finding me. I was able to get in the zone there but I didn’t really feel anything, I was just there and the ball went in,” he said after the game. “It was a total team effort. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them finding me. It was a total team effort. We defended as a team, rebounded the ball as a team in the second half, and we were connected. The ball was just able to go into the hoop for me tonight, but it was a total team effort winning.”

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida routs South Carolina 72-46 as Michael Frazier sets Gators threes record

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No. 1 Florida at South Carolina preview: Gators ready for road tussle with confident Gamecocks

Location: Colonial Life Arena – Columbia, SC [Capacity: 18,000]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU (Joe Davis, Dino Gaudio)
SiriusXM: 93/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(1) FLORIDA GATORS SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Frank Martin
Record: 27-2 (16-0 SEC) Record: 11-18 (4-12 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -12 | O/U: OFF

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» The Gators won the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title and clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the SEC Tournament last Thursday after Kentucky lost and gave UF a four-game lead in the league standings with three contests left to play. It is the program’s second-straight title, third in the last four seasons, seventh overall and fifth outright.
» Florida leads South Carolina 41-22 in the all-time series and holds a 25-11 edge in the series with Donovan has coach. The Gators are 19-13 against the Gamecocks on the road (10-6 under Donovan) with victories in five-straight meetings and 12 of the last 15.
» UF defeated USC 74-58 back on Jan. 8. The teams play each other twice this season after not doing so in 2012-13.
» Donovan and Martin go back to the late 1990s when the then-young Florida head coach recruited Udonis Haslem, who played for Martin at Miami Senior High School. Since Martin first became a college head coach in 2007, Donovan is 3-0 all-time when the friends meet on the court.
» UF enters Tuesday’s game on a program-record 21-game winning streak and at 16-0 have set a school mark for most conference wins in a single season. Its 27 wins are also the most the Gators have captured in a single season.
» With a victory, Florida would become the fourth team in SEC history to win 17 league games and just the second all-time to hold a 17-0 SEC mark. If the Gators win their final two SEC games, they could become the first team to finish 18-0 in the league.
» Florida is also on two school-record home winning streaks – 31-straight overall and 16-in-a-row against league opponents.
» The Gators at 27-2 (16-0 SEC) have set a program mark for best overall start to a season. UF has also won 26 of its last 27 games.
» Florida has won eight-straight SEC road games, also a program record.
» The Gators are 78-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 13-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. Florida is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators are 10-2 in true road games this campaign with both losses coming against ranked opponents during the first month of the season. UF lost those contests by a combined seven points.
» This marks the latest in a regular season that Florida has been ranked No. 1 nationally. The Gators have achieved a No. 1 ranking in four separate seasons and is 17-5 playing as the top team in the country.
» South Carolina is 1-9 all-time against No. 1-ranked opponents with its only victory coming against Kentucky in 2010.
» The Gators’ senior class is the first in school history to win three SEC championships.

Continue Reading » No. 1 Florida at South Carolina preview: Gators ready for road tussle with confident Gamecocks

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The Fastbreak: No. 10 Gators dominate Gamecocks 74-58; Wilbekin injured late in game

The No. 10 Florida Gators (12-2, 1-0 SEC) opened Southeastern Conference play with a dominant 74-58 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-7, 0-1 SEC) on Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida won its 24th-straight game in the O’Dome, matching a program record for most consecutive home victories, and improved to 13-5 under head coach Billy Donovan in SEC openers (9-0 at home).

OnlyGators.com breaks down UF’s 12th win with The Fastbreak.

It was over when: Despite leading by double digits nearly the entire game, Florida was in a rut midway through the second half after seeing its advantage drop to single digits a few minutes earlier. Suddenly, the Gators erupted on a 12-0 run – bookended by a pair of long baskets (one three) from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II – to take a 63-42 lead with 7:08 to play. The Gamecocks were never able to fight back. Frazier finished with eight points and four boards but hit just 2-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc.

Prominent player: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin got back into his early-season form on Wednesday, one game after finding himself in Donovan’s doghouse. Wilbekin led Florida with a team-high 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting, draining 3-of-6 attempts from downtown and all four of his free throws. He also dished three assists while not committing a single turnover on the evening.

Important injury: Wilbekin drove to the hoop with 2:17 remaining in the contest but came down badly on his right ankle. It was hurting him so much, in fact, that he had to be helped off the court by trainer Dave “Duke” Werner and could not put any pressure on the leg. The Gators after the game simply acknowledged that the injury was a right ankle sprain and did not provide any information as to the severity.

Update: Donovan listed Wilbekin as “questionable” for UF’s next game. OnlyGators.com learned Thursday morning that Wilbekin’s sprained ankle is considered moderate. If he misses a game, it will likely be for precautionary reasons.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak after the, well, break.
Continue Reading » The Fastbreak: No. 10 Gators dominate Gamecocks 74-58; Wilbekin injured late in game

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Florida vs. South Carolina preview: Donovan named USA Coach of the Year; Vitale rips NCAA

(10) FLORIDA GATORS SO. CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Frank Martin
Record: 11-2 (0-0 SEC) Record: 7-6 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: Comcast Sports Southeast (Matt Stewart, Daymeon Fishback) [Channel Finder]
SiriusXM: 110/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Odds: Florida -16.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 40-22 all-time against South Carolina with a 24-11 record against the Gamecocks since Donovan has been coach of the Gators. UF is also 19-7 against USC at home (13-4 under Donovan) and has won four-straight in the O’Dome.
» One of the hottest teams in the country, Florida is on a five-game winning streak and has been victorious in 10 of its last 11 games.
» South Carolina has won four-straight games entering Wednesday night.
» The Gators are attempting to tie the school record for longest home winning streak. UF has won 23-straight games in the O’Dome, going undefeated at its home gym last season.
» Florida is 12-5 in SEC openers (8-0 in Gainesville) under Donoavn.
» The Gators are 64-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points.
» Florida is 5-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» UF will be putting out the same starting five for the seventh time in its last eight games. In the Gators’ first seven contests, Florida rolled out four different starting lineups.

DONOVAN NAMED USA COACH OF THE YEAR

Donovan on Wednesday was named the 2013 USA Basketball Co-National Coach of the Year after leading the Americans to a 9-0 record and gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships last summer.

“This was such a special event, and I’m very thankful to USA Basketball for the opportunity to coach this team and appreciative of this honor,” Donovan said in a statement. “I thought the people in the Czech Republic did a great job hosting the World Championship. Prague was a great city… I thought the USA did a really great job of fielding a good team and providing a lot of options to put together a great team.”

Continue Reading » Florida vs. South Carolina preview: Donovan named USA Coach of the Year; Vitale rips NCAA

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