Fastbreak: Georgia rocks Florida 73-61 in Athens

By Jordan McPherseon – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators basketball dropped its first Southeastern Conference game of the season on Saturday afternoon, falling 73-61 to the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia. Florida (10-7, 3-1 SEC) struggled out of the gate as Georgia took a lead that it never relinquished over the course of the 40 minutes.

“I think the performance says it all. I don’t want to take anything away from Georgia. … In a lot of ways, I was actually surprised it was as close as it was. It felt like they outplayed us in every facet,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game. “It was a disappointing response coming off a quick turnaround.”

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

It was over when: The Bulldogs extended their lead to 15 points (59-44) on a Kenny Gaines three-pointer with 7:56 left to play. That basket helped UGA regain its largest lead of the contest just minutes after UF cut its large deficit to two points.

Significant stretch: The Gators cut their game-long deficit to two early in the second half but suffered from their own miscues, committing four turnovers that allowed an 10-1 Bulldogs run, pushing Georgia ahead of Florida 56-41 with 11 minutes left. UF turned it over seven times during an extended stretch as UGA went 6-for-7 from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.

“For me, this game is a microcosm of our team. This would be a great example of what I watch in practice. This is what I watch,” Donovan said.

“The hardest thing for young players, in my opinion, is to be consistent day in and day out, day in and day out. A lot of that comes with maturity. We’ve showed moments this year with great, brilliant flashes … we’ve shown great signs. But here’s an example of inconsistency. We’re just very, very inconsistent. It is, for a lot of these guys, very mentally overwhelming and draining to come every day and be able to have the focus and attention to detail and be consistent. I’m concerned every game. There’s not a game I go into and sit there and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be fine.’”

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs; Donovan still wanting more from Frazier, Hill

Location: Stegeman Coliseum – Augusta, Georgia [Capacity: 10,523]
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS (Andre Catalon, Clark Kellogg)
Streaming Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 10-6 (3-0 SEC) Record: 10-5 (1-2 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: -2

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series over Georgia 109-99 with a 26-10 record against its rival under Donovan’s leadership. UF is 10-7 under Donovan when playing UGA in Athens.
» The Gators were 86-10 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 71 points in a game; UF is 9-5 this season when doing so.
» Florida has put forward 10 different starting lineups in 16 regular-season games. Overall, 10 players have started at least one game for UF this season.
» The Gators learned to win close games last season, going 15-2 in contests decided by single digits; Florida is 3-5 in such affairs this season.
» UF is on pace for 19.4 wins in the regular season while looking for its 17th consecutive season with 20+ victories. Florida’s 16-straight campaigns with that many wins is the longest streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally. Only eight coaches have ever won 20+ games in 14+ consecutive seasons.
» Earlier this season, Miami snapped Florida’s program-record 33-game home winning streak, which dated back to Nov. 11, 2012, and was the second-longest in the nation. The Canes also broke the Gators’ school-record 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, which dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.
» Florida is on three program-record regular-season winning streaks – 21-straight games against SEC opponents overall (since Jan. 8, 2014) and 20-straight SEC games at home (since Jan. 9, 2013). UF has also won a school-record 10-in-a-row over SEC opponents on the road (since Jan. 11, 2014).

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FOUR BITS: Florida tennis falls, lacrosse reigns, softball triumphs, gymnastics sets the tone

1 » No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (3-1) lost its first match in more than a year as the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils (7-1) snapped the visitors’ 25-match winning streak (which dated back to Feb. 12, 2012) with a 4-0 sweep on Sunday in Durham, NC. Though the duo of senior Lauren Embree and junior Sofie Oyen took down Duke’s No. 7-ranked team of Mary Clayton and Ester Goldfeld 8-4, Florida eventually lost the doubles point when junior Alex Cercone/freshman Brianna Morgan lost a 6-4 lead and fell 7-6(7-3) in the third doubles match. The Gators responded by winning the first set on five-of-six singles courts. However, No. 9 Oyen was upset by No. 45 Goldfeld (6-4, 7-5) to put the Blue Devils up 3-0 and Duke picked up one additional singles win despite UF leading in all three of the matches that did not finish. Florida, which was pushed out of the top national ranking at the start of the week by new No. 1 North Carolina, will be in Chapel Hill, NC to face UNC on Monday at 2 p.m.

2 » No. 3 Gators lacrosse (3-0) has won its first three matches of the season for the first time in program history after taking down the High Point Panthers (1-1) on Sunday in High Point, NC. Florida, which picked up a 13-7 victory, was led by three goals apiece from sophomore midfielder Shannon Gilroy and senior attacker Caroline Chesterman. Senior A Kitty Cullen and sophomore M Nicole Graziano added two goals each. UF will host Stony Brook in the program’s home opener on Wednesday.

3 » No. 5 Gators softball (12-0) spent its first weekend of the 2013 season plowing through opponents out west in the Kajikawa Classic. One weekend later, the location changed but the game play remained the same as Florida trounced its competition in the Lipton Invitational at the friendly confines of Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL. The Gators outscored their opponents by a combined 54-4 over six games in a three-day span. Florida beat the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks 10-0 on Friday and 9-1 on Sunday, shutout the Savannah State Tigers 12-0 on Friday and 14-0 on Sunday, took down the Western Carolina Catamounts 5-0 on Saturday, and squeaked past the Charleston Southern Buccaneers 4-3 on Sunday in an extra-inning affair.

Four Florida players led the way offensively with sophomore first baseman Lauren Haeger (7/15, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB) at the top of the pack. Also making big contributions were sophomore outfielder Jessica Damico (4/11, HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, 3 BB, SB), freshman second baseman Kelsey Stewart (8/20, HR, 4 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 7 SB) and freshman OF Kirsti Merritt (4/9, HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB, 2 SB – four games). A solo homer by Haeger in the bottom of the seventh on Sunday against Charleston Southern sent the game into extra innings, and Damico ended the contest in the bottom of the eighth as she tripled to score the final run of the game. Each of UF’s pitchers picked up a pair of wins over the weekend including Haeger (4-0, 11.0 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, HBP, 15 K), sophomore right-handeder Alyssa Bache (3-0, 10.0 IP, 3 H, BB, 14 K) and junior RHP Hannah Rogers (4-0, 15.0 IP, 9 H, ER [3 R], 5 BB, 13 K).

4 » No. 1 Gators gymnastics (6-1, 5-1 SEC) once again proved why it is being labeled as the best team in the country as it came from behind to take down the No. 9 Georgia Gym Dogs (5-5-1, 3-1-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,971 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA. Florida ousted Georgia 197.30-196.175 despite losing two team events (vault, uneven bars) and barely winning the floor exercise. A strong performance on the balance beam gave the Gators a significant 49.300-48.125 advantage over the GymDogs in the event, catapulting them to victory. Freshman Bridget Sloan picked up her third-straight all-around title with a 39.60 and also won bars with a 9.95.

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Gators dominate second half, cage Bulldogs 64-47

Trailing at the half for just the second time this season, the No. 7/8 Florida Gators (15-2, 5-0 SEC) outworked the Georgia Bulldogs (7-11, 1-4 SEC) over the final 20 minutes at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA, outscoring the hosts 40-20 in the second half and pulling away for an impressive 64-47 victory.

The Gators remained undefeated in Southeastern Conference play by clamping down defensively, rotating the ball in the second half and holding an opponent under 50 points in a game for the ninth time in the 2012-13 season.

Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin led all scorers with a career-high-tying 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting with three assists and two rebounds. He registered 13 of those points in the first half as his teammates struggled offensively.

Georgia controlled the tempo early in the contest by jumping ahead 11-2 over the first few minutes and handing Florida its largest deficit in a conference game this season.

A quick 8-0 run got the Gators within a point of the Bulldogs at 11-10, and Florida was eventually able to tie the contest at 21 and again at 24 before guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to give Georgia a 27-24 lead at the end of the first half.

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Wilbekin’s defense, attitude propelling Florida

No. 7/8 FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 14-2 (4-0 SEC) Record: 7-10 (1-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Stegeman Coliseum – Athens, GA [Capacity: 10,523]
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Barry Booker) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 134/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: Florida -15.5 | O/U (OFF)

The Florida Gators basketball roster is filled with McDonald’s All-Americans, highly-rated recruits and big-name players, but it is junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin – an underrated local product (and project) out of Gainesville, FL who joined the team after his junior season of high school – who is having a huge impact on the team.

On a team with a pair of big-time scorers in the backcourt, much of the dirty work is left to Wilbekin. Senior guard Kenny Boynton plays fantastic defense and redshirt senior Mike Rosario is improving in that area, but Wilbekin has been shutting down his man game-in and game-out all while leading Florida with 4.9 assists per game.

Over the last two contests, Wilbekin held Texas A&M’s Elston Turner to four points on 1-of-10 shooting just one game after Turner scored 40 points against Kentucky and dominated Missouri’s Phil Pressey, who committed a career-high 10 turnovers while going 1-for-7 from the field for two points.

In fact, Wilbekin is on his way to climbing the ranks of some of the best on-ball defenders in the history of the program as he draws comparisons to hard-working guys like Justin Hamilton and Corey Brewer.

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Perfect game, SEC records top Gators’ weekend

The season may have just begun for No. 5/5 Florida Gators softball, but the ladies did not waste time getting off to a fast 5-0 start at the USF Wilson DeMarini Tournament in over the weekend. Florida defeated Marshall, Florida Gulf Coast, Long Island, North Carolina State and USF by a combined 53-3 score; the Gators shut out three of their five opponents and scored 17 runs in the first four innings of their season-opener.

The highlight of the weekend for softball came Saturday when senior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher tossed the second perfect game of her career to send Florida to a 9-0 shutout victory over N.C. State. Brombacher needed only 67 pitches to do the deed; she struck out six in her five innings of work. Ending up 3-0 at the tournament’s conclusion, Brombacher struck out 19 in 14 innings of work, did not give up a single earned run and only allowed four hits in her final game of the weekend against USF.

Softball may have won five games in three days, but a veteran diver did her best to earn all of the weekend’s accolades for herself.

Not to be overshadowed was the Gators women’s diving team, led by senior Monica Dodson, who broke two Southeastern Conference records and won two gold medals in the diving portion of the 2011 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Dodson, a three-time All-American, won the three-meter event (six dives) with a score of 373.85 on Friday; she followed that up with a victory in the platform event (five dives) with a score of 325.20 at the final day of competition on Sunday. For her efforts and achievements this season, Dodson was named the 2011 SEC Women’s Diver of the Year. Florida diving coach Donnie Craine was honored after the event with his second-straight SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year award, an honor that puts him second all-time in conference history.

Check out the other UF sports that had a successful weekend…after the break!
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Gators need two overtimes to cage Bulldogs

Giving up a lead at the end of regulation only to come from behind to force a second period of extra time, the No. 23/24 Florida Gators (16-4, 5-1 SEC) defeated the Georgia Bulldogs (14-5, 3-3 SEC) 104-91 in a double-overtime thriller to claim sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Conference on Tuesday evening at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA.

Georgia forward Trey Thompkins put-back a missed shot to send the game into overtime, Florida junior point guard Erving Walker hit a dagger three-pointer to force a second overtime, and Gators F Chandler Parsons took over in the final period to complete Florida’s hardest-fought win of the season.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s comprehensive game story…after the break!
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No. 23 Florida Gators at Ga. Bulldogs Gameday

Location: Stegeman Coliseum – Athens, GA [Capacity: 10,523]
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Sirius/XM:
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 23/24 FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 15-4 (4-1) Record: 14-4 (3-2)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Georgia -2.5; O/U 135

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Georgia 103-96. The Gators have won 12 out of the last 14 games in the series against the Bulldogs and are 20-7 overall against them under Donovan including 8-5 in Athens. However, Florida has lost its last two contests at Georgia by a combined four points.
» UF has won 10 of its last 12 games with six victories against RPI top 100 teams.
» The Gators are 6-1 in SEC play over the last two seasons with three or fewer days between games (2-0 this season).
» Florida is 4-0 in true road games and currently holds a 6-1 record away from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center this season.
» The Gators are 11-1 when holding an opponent under 60 points this season. They have held back-to-back opponents (Auburn-40, Arkansas-43) under 45 points, the lowest two-game total in SEC play ever under Donovan (previous low 90). UF’s defense has held consecutive SEC opponents under 45 points for the first time since 1947 and for the first time in the shot clock era.
» Florida has out-rebounded 15 of 19 opponents (two of five in SEC competition) this season and are doing so by a +7.1 rebounds per game advantage.
» The Bulldogs best the Gators in three of four major statistical categories nationally. Georgia holds advantages in points per game 121st-155th (71.3-70.1), assists 34th-76th (15.6-14.6) and field goal percentage 56th-71st (.466-.461), while Florida is more efficient off the glass leading in rebounds 55th-71st (38.2-37.4). The Gators rank 16th in RPI (.6343) and 10th in strength of schedule nationally compared to the Bulldogs being 41st (.5967) and 79th, respectively.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 13.7 points per game and leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (43.9%) and three-point percentage (41.8%). He has single-handedly accounted for 41 of Florida’s 109 treys this season. Walker became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat earlier this year.
» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who is back to averaging double-digit points (10.0) while leading the Gators with 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Parsons notched a career-high 15 boards on Saturday against Arkansas.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-high 57.3 percent as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds a game while being a major presence for Florida.
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably UF’s most talented player but had been marred in a slump this year until recently breaking out of it. Boynton is only shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second on the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game and hits a team-high 77.4 percent of his free throws.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are the Gators primary reserves averaging 17.8 and 16.2 minutes per game, respectively. Wilbekin, in relief of Walker, leads Florida in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2:1), while Young is the team’s most efficient scorer at 59.1 percent.
» Georgia F Trey Thompkins…who is the main reason his is the best-shooting team in the SEC. Thompkins averages 17.4 points per game, leads his team in blocks (1.6 per game) and pulls down 7.1 rebounds each contest.
» Bulldogs F Travis Leslie…who leads his squad in rebounding with 7.3 boards per game and is second on the team in scoring averaging 14.7 points.

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