Strength in years: Burden-carrying senior center Patric Young becomes rock Florida Gators needed

An old Jewish proverb states that in times of hardship, one should not ask for a lighter burden but rather broader shoulders upon which that burden can be carried.

Florida Gators senior center Patirc Young – all six feet, nine inches and 240 pounds of him – was born with a frame that allows him to drag pick-up trucks and flip large tires but had to develop the mental strength and internal drive to assume the pressure that has been thrust upon him since his high school days.

Muscular and defined at 6-foot-8, 220 pounds as a senior in high school, analysts could not help but compare him to Dwight Howard more because of how he looked in a basketball uniform rather than by evaluating his actual game.

With size and strength not possessed by most teenagers, Young was physically dominant on the court and earned a five-star rating as a result. The No. 27 overall player in the 2010 recruiting class, he was the first of Florida’s five commitments that cycle.

Nothing he did during his freshman season with the Gators forced any adjustments to those expectations. If anything, Young’s energy and impact off the bench perhaps only fueled the belief that he would be absolutely dominant during his sophomore campaign – if he stayed in Gainesville, FL.

Continue Reading » Strength in years: Burden-carrying senior center Patric Young becomes rock Florida Gators needed

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Donovan praises Gators, crowd; Florida seniors step up in crunch time; SEC Tournament set

The No. 1 Florida Gators (29-2, 18-0 SEC) left the Stephen C. O’Connell Center having completed the greatest regular season in school history and with the most accomplished senior class in the history of the program.

Head coach Billy Donovan spoke the media after his team’s 84-65 victory over the No. 25 Kentucky Wildcats (22-9, 12-6 SEC).

”THE GREATEST REGULAR SEASON I’VE EVER BEEN A PART OF”

Donovan began his post-game press conference by stating matter-of-factly how proud he is of the Gators and the way they performed all season long despite being met with plenty of adversity along the way.

“I think the first thing is, for me as a coach, it’s the greatest regular season I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “What these guys have done, going all the way back to the second game of the year at Wisconsin with obviously a depleted roster and then going to UConn and losing both point guards in that game and having to play a lot of our non-conference schedule somewhat banged up, guys not there. And then obviously having to battle through some injuries throughout league play.

“But their consistency and the way these guys have performed, to win 18 games in a row in this league, it’s never happened before. … These guys have done a remarkable job. And certainly happy for our four seniors, the way it ended for them and obviously the way they played. Just the regular season has been great. Hopefully we can decompress a little bit, get a little time here and get ready for the next step in Atlanta.”

With that, Donovan also expressed that he also could not be “any prouder of a team striving to be better and better each day.” However, he did note that he has mixed emotions about the concept of Senior Day and how it can impact a team heading into an important game like UF’s on Saturday.

Continue Reading » Donovan praises Gators, crowd; Florida seniors step up in crunch time; SEC Tournament set

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Senior Day in pictures: No. 1 Florida Gators celebrate historic finish to regular season

No. 1 Florida Gators basketball on Saturday became the first team in Southeastern Conference history to finish the regular season a perfect 18-0 in league play as it thwarted the No. 25 Kentucky Wildcats 84-65 on Senior Day in Gainesville, FL.

The festivities began at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center before the contest with all four seniors – forward Casey Prather, point guard Scottie Wilbekin, F Will Yeguete and center Patric Young – honored prior to playing their last game in the O’Dome. They continued as Florida opened up a 22-point first-half lead over Kentucky and pulled away late in the second half to earn a 19-point victory.

OnlyGators.com takes a look at the historic day, which also saw UF go undefeated at home for the second consecutive season, through pictures published on Twitter via a variety of sources. Check them all out below.


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Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida makes history, finishes 18-0 in SEC play with 84-65 win over Kentucky

History was made on Saturday as the No. 1 Florida Gators (29-2, 18-0 SEC) became the first team ever to go 18-0 in Southeastern Conference play, routing the No. 25 Kentucky Wildcats (22-9, 12-6 SEC) on Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida topped Kentucky 84-65, leading by as many as 22 points in the first half and winning by 19 despite allowing a 15-0 run in the latter period.

The 19-point victory was UF’s largest margin in its all-time series against UK. The Gators are now undefeated at home (32-0) over the last two seasons, have won 23-straight games and 17-in-a-row at home over league opponents.

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

It was over when: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin drained a monster three-pointer seemingly from Ocala, FL with less than three minutes to play, vaulting Florida ahead of Kentucky by 17 and icing the contest for the Gators. He was UF’s third-leading scorer on the afternoon, posting 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-of-2 from downtown) with four assists and three boards.

Prominent player: Senior center Patric Young went scoreless for the first 14 minutes of the second half, but his 14 first-half points and 18 total points were both highs for the Gators on Saturday. The 18 points were also a season-high for Young, who hit 8-of-13 shots and finished with a team-high seven boards.

Significant stretch: With UF dominating UK, the Wildcats finally responded by scoring on eight-straight possessions early in the second half. Kentucky went on a 15-0 run to cut their deficit to six points as Florida went scoreless for 5:36, making Saturday’s contest a game when it looked to be a blowout.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida makes history, finishes 18-0 in SEC play with 84-65 win over Kentucky

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Senior Day: No. 1 Florida Gators (28-2, 17-0 SEC) vs. No. 25 Kentucky Wildcats

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(1) FLORIDA GATORS (25) KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: John Calipari
Record: 28-2 (17-0 SEC) Record: 22-8 (12-5 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -9 | 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.
» Kentucky leads Florida 94-35 in the all-time series with the Wildcats also holding a 24-15 mark over the Gators since Donovan took over the program. UF is 23-33 all-time at home against UK but is 10-7 in the O’Dome under Donovan.
» Donovan is 3-8 against Calipari since the latter coachtook over in Lexington.
» The Gators defeated the Wildcats 69-59 on Feb. 15 in Lexington, KY.
» UF enters Saturday’s regular-season finale on a program-record 22-game winning streak and at 17-0 have set a school mark for most conference wins in a single season. Its 28 wins are also the most the Gators have captured in a single season.
» Florida is the second team in SEC history to hold a 17-0 mark in league play. If the Gators win on Saturday, they will 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 28-2 (17-0 SEC) have set a program mark for best overall start to a season. UF has also won 27 of its last 28 games.
» Florida has won nine-straight SEC road games, also a program record.
» The Gators are 79-9 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 11-2 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 are 18-5 playing as the top team in the country.
» Florida’s senior class is the first in school history to win three SEC championships.

Continue Reading » Senior Day: No. 1 Florida Gators (28-2, 17-0 SEC) vs. No. 25 Kentucky Wildcats

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Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida cruises past LSU 79-61

After being involved in three-straight nail-biters – two away from home – the No. 1 Florida Gators (27-2, 16-0 SEC) were able to take a breath and cruise to a wire-to-wire 79-61 victory on Saturday afternoon, taking down the LSU Tigers (17-11, 8-8 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida clinched the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title with Kentucky’s loss on Thursday but celebrated in style Saturday as it extended its school-record winning streak to 21 games and continued a number of other program-best marks including winning 16 SEC games in a single season.

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

It was over when: With under 12 minutes left in the game, Florida senior forward Will Yeguete found senior F Casey Prather cutting to the hoop for an impressive one-handed jam. Less than one minute later, Prather had another impressive finish when he corralled a left-handed alley-oop pass from senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin on the fastbreak for a highlight layup. The Gators increased their lead to 24 points with the basket making it near-impossible for the Tigers to fight back over the duration of the contest. Wilbekin scored 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep, dished four assists and registered two steals. Yeguete had four points and five boards.

Prominent players: Neither player led UF in scoring on Saturday, but Prather and sophomore guard Michael Frazier II each took over the game in a half to help Florida to victory. Frazier went 4-for-6 from downtown in the first half to spot the Gators an early double-digit lead; he only scored once in the second half, finishing with 14 points and four boards, but was undoubtedly his team’s catalyst. Prather wrapped things up nicely for UF in the latter 20 minutes, finishing 6-for-7 for 14 points with a steal and a block.

Significant stretches: Florida achieved an 18-point lead with four minutes left until the break with a trio of long runs in the first-half. The Gators opened up the game 8-0, compiled an 8-2 stretch midway through the period and used an 11-0 run including three-straight bombs from downtown – two from Frazier – to jump way ahead of the Tigers in the early going. UF’s lead did not dip below 13 points for the remainder of the contest and eventually stretched to as high as 27 points with 6:14 left in the game.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida cruises past LSU 79-61

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Gameday: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery)
SiriusXM: 113/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(1) FLORIDA GATORS LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Johnny Jones
Record: 26-2 (15-0 SEC) Record: 17-10 (8-7 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -11.5 | O/U: 137.5

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 on Thursday after Kentucky lost and gave UF a four-game lead in the league standings with three contests left to play.
» LSU leads Florida 42-60 in the all-time series between the two programs with the Gators holding a 13-8 edge over the Tigers under Donovan. UF is 26-19 all-time at home against LSU (5-3 under Donovan) and has won five-straight games against their league rivals.
» The Gators enter Saturday’s game on a program-record 20-game winning streak and at 15-0 have set a UF mark for most conference wins in a single season. Its 26 wins are also the most the Gators have captured in a single season.
» Florida is also on two school-record home winning streaks – 30-straight overall and 15-in-a-row against league opponents.
» The Gators at 26-2 (15-0 SEC) have set a program mark for best overall start to a season. UF has also won 25 of its last 26 games.
» Florida has won eight-straight SEC road games, also a program record.
» The Gators are 77-9 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 season with both losses coming against ranked opponents during the first month of the season. UF lost those contests by a combined seven points.
» March 1 is the latest in a season that Florida has been ranked No. 1 nationally.
» The Gators’ senior class is the first in school history to win three SEC championships.

Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers

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No. 2 Florida vs. Auburn post-game report: Gators hope to learn from close win

No. 2 Florida Gators basketball (24-2, 13-0 SEC) squeaked by the Auburn Tigers (12-12, 4-9 SEC) on Wednesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, staving off an upset big and coming away with a 71-66 victory that kept a number of major streaks alive. Following the close win, head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to discuss the win.

HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Florida is now 20-4 against Auburn under Donovan. UF has won seven-straight, 17 of the last 18 in the series and nine in a row at home. The Gators and Tigers squared off in a home-and-home series for the first time since 1991.
» UF matched a program-best by opening the season 24-2, a record it only previously achieved at the start of the 2006-07 season. Florida has also set a school-record by starting 13-0 in league play.
» The Gators are in the midst of the longest winning streak in program history. UF won its 18th-straight game on Wednesday and has been victorious in 23 of the last 24 contests.
» Florida has won 30 consecutive home games as well as 15-in-a-row against SEC opponents in the O’Dome, both school records.
» The Gators are 76-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 11-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. UF is also 1-0 in overtime games.

Continue Reading » No. 2 Florida vs. Auburn post-game report: Gators hope to learn from close win

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