Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Idaho Vandals

BREAKING: Three Florida Gators have been suspended for the season-opener. More information below under Injuries/Absences.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 86°F (feels like 93°F), mostly cloudy (chance of rain: 10 percent)
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Kelly Stouffer, Niki Noto)

Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 108/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS IDAHO VANDALS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Paul Petrino
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt

Odds: Florida -37 | O/U 50.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Breakdown: First fall depth chart | Notebook: Muschamp evaluates team, previews first game | Story: Treon Harris named backup quarterback | Notebook: Kurt Roper addresses hot topics, D.J. Durkin evaluates unit | Special: 54 Florida football facts, stats and tidbits | Friday Final: Running backs primed to break out

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No. 16 Florida basketball vs. Middle Tenn. preview

Event: Global Sports Challenge
Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST

(16) FLORIDA GATORS MIDDLE TENN. BLUE RAIDERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kermit Davis
Record: 3-1 Record: 4-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

TV: Sun Sports (Larry Vettel, Bill Koss) [Channel Finder]
SiriusXM: 108/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Odds: Florida -12

PRE-GAME READING MATERIAL

» Notebook: Billy Donovan talks point guard situation, Will Yeguete’s explosiveness
» Notebook: Florida-Southern post-game report. Gators PG Kasey Hill suffers high-ankle sprain, G Dillon Graham (hips) ruled out for the season.
» The Fastbreak: Breaking down No. 14/16 Florida easing past Southern 67-53
» Story: Gators down to No. 14/16 in new top 25 polls

HISTORY / STATS / STREAKS

» Florida is 1-0 all-time against Middle Tennessee, defeating Thursday night’s opponent last season 66-45 in a neutral site game in Tampa, FL.
» The Gators are playing their third game in the last six days.
» UF is currently 3-0 in the Global Sports Challenge, an exempt tournament, with wins over North Florida, Arkansas-Little Rock and Southern. Thursday night’s game happens to be for the non-existent event title as MTSU is also 3-0 in the tournament.
» Florida is 7-1 against Sun Belt teams under Donovan.
» Middle Tennessee advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season but fell in the First Four to St. Mary’s.
» The Gators have won 18-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to the 2011-12 season as well as 19 consecutive non-conference home games.
» Florida is replacing its three leading scorers from 2012-13.
» UF is looking to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2006-07 after having its season end in the Elite Eight in each of the last three years.
» The Gators are now 4-3 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all three losses coming away from its home court.
» Florida is 57-8 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» The Gators are 0-7 dating back to last season in games decided by single digits.
» Florida’s defense has started off allowing just 59.2 points per game through four contests, good for lowest in the SEC. Three-straight opponents have failed to reach 60 points against UF.
» Donovan is looking for his 16th consecutive 20-win season. The Gators have him ranked sixth all-time in that category behind only Dean Smith, Lute Olson, Mike Krzyzewski, Tubby Smith and Jim Boeheim.
» Donovan (418) enters the game 30 wins behind Dale Brown (448) for second-most in SEC history. He is currently the longest-tenured head basketball coach in the league.

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No. 11 Florida vs. Arkansas-Little Rock preview

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 4:30 p.m. EST

(11) FLORIDA GATORS ARK-LITTLE ROCK TROJANS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Steve Shields
Record: 1-1 Record: 0-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

TV: FOX Sports Florida (Larry Vettel, Bill Koss) [Channel Finder]
SiriusXM: 112/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Odds: -20

PRE-GAME READING MATERIAL

» Story: Florida F Dorian Finney-Smith reinstated but ill; Scottie Wilbekin still suspended, Damontre Harris off team

HISTORY / STATS / STREAKS

» Florida and Arkansas-Little Rock have never gone head-to-head in men’s basketball, but UF is 5-1 against current Sun Belt problems under Donovan.
» The Gators have won 16-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to the 2011-12 season. UF has also won 17 consecutive non-conference home games.
» Florida is 55-8 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» The Gators are 0-7 dating back to the 2012-13 season in single-digit decisions.
» Donovan (414) enters the game 32 wins behind Dale Brown (448) for second-most in SEC history. He is currently the longest-tenured head coach in the league.

TWO-MAN GANG

» Senior forward Casey Prather scored a career-high 28 points in the season opener, the most points scored by a player in the first game of the season for UF since 1985 (Vernon Maxwell, 28).
» Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II scored a career-high 20 points in the Florida’s second game of the season at Wisconsin.
» Prather and Frazier (79 points) have combined to score 60.8 percent of the Gators’ points this season. Each player is averaging more than 19.5 points per game. The next leading scorer on the team has 19 points combined on the season. Prather and Frazier are also just two of three players on the team to grab double-digit rebounds on the season. The other is redshirt junior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz

TWO GATORS DRESS FOR THE FIRST TIME

It looks like redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith had a “miraculous recovery,” which Donovan said Friday is what it would take for him to play in Saturday’s game. Florida announced Saturday morning that Finney-Smith will play his first game of the season (and first career game in a Gators uniform) despite battling an unspecified viral illness for the last three days.

The Gators also announced the addition of a third walk-on in G Lexx Edwards. The brother of former Florida linebacker Lorenzo Edwards, Lexx was also a walk-on in 2011-12 and spent last season working with the scout team.

Continue Reading » No. 11 Florida vs. Arkansas-Little Rock preview

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Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Louisiana

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 72°F, mostly sunny, winds ENE at 9 mph
Time: 12:21 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $24 on TiqIQ

TV: SEC Network (Mike Morgan, Chris Doering) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 112/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 6 FLORIDA GATORS LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Mark Hudspeth
Record: 8-1 Record: 5-3
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -27

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 4-0 all time against Louisiana-Lafayette though all four victories came when the team was named Southwest Louisiana.
» The Gators are 12-1 against unranked opponents and 3-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp since he took over in 2011. Florida is 3-1 against ranked opponents this season with wins of Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina and a loss to Georgia.
» Florida was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have flipped that around and are 4-1 in 2012 in that category with all four victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 10-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 12-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-3 when scoring first and 11-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has scored on 27-of-33 red zone trips (81.8 percent) but have only converted 17 of those possessions (54.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted 48-of-128 of its third-down attempts (37.5 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 36-of-132 on third down conversions (27.3 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 33:11 in time of possession through nine games, a margin that ranks seventh nationally and just one minute behind the country’s leader.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 138-38 in the second half and 71-20 in the fourth quarter. UF was the only team in the nation that had not allowed a fourth-quarter point until one month ago.
» Florida had a stretch of not allowing a touchdown in nine-straight quarters and is fourth in scoring defense nationally (12.11 points per game).
» The Gators are +11 in turnover margin through nine games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (340) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed 15 interceptions so far in 2012 and has already surpassed its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in seven-of-eight games and has also forced seven fumbles.
» The Gators are first nationally in pass efficiency defense (87.43), fifth in total defense (286.9 yards per game) and 10th in rushing defense (100.3 yards per game).
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered a kick return (or punt return) in 2012.
» The Gators are second nationally in net punt average (43.5 yards per punt).

LAST TIME OUT

Four defensive touchdowns propelled Florida to a 55-21 victory over then-Southwest Louisiana back when the teams last met in 1996. The Gators had a pair of fumble return touchdowns and interception return touchdowns in the game but also forced two additional turnovers. Wide receiver Ike Hilliard led the way for Florida with 117 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES*

» Probable/Questionable (6): Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (ankle), redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray (ankle), senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee), redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (knee), redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapi (ankle), junior safety Matt Elam (unknown)
» Inactive (12): Redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown, redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (unknown), redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr (flu) Junior defensive back Cody Riggs (foot), redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), junior long snapper Drew Ferris (collarbone), redshirt freshman guard Tommy Jordan (shoulder), junior Buck LB Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot), redshirt junior defensive end Kedric Johnson (knee), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee)

* As of Saturday at 4:00 a.m.

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No. 22 Florida Gators vs. FAU Owls Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 72°F, partly cloudy
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPNU/ESPNUHD
SiriusXM: 205
Online Audio: GatorVision.tv
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(22) FLORIDA GATORS FLORIDA ATLANTIC OWLS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -34.5; O/U 50

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators after a long offseason? No problem. OGGOA has been here the entire time. Check out the links below and do your homework on the team’s offseason before the final exam Saturday evening.

Latest depth chart | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

As first reported by OGGOA last Friday, former Florida dazzler now ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was in Gainesville, FL on Monday to interview Muschamp. The segment will air live on College GameDay (which starts at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN) and will be followed by a discussion between Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso about Muschamp and what impact he will have on the team in 2011 and going forward.

A clip of Andrews’s interview with Muschamp is available below:

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is 1-0 in the all-time series against Florida Atlantic, defeating them 59-20 in 2007, the only time the teams squared off.
» The Gators have never lost a game against a current member of the Sun Belt and are 13-0 against such opponents.
» Florida is 77-27 all-time to start the season and 62-6 in the friendly confines of Florida Field. The Gators have won 21 consecutive season openers, the second-longest streak in the country (Nebraska, 25) and best in the SEC by 10 games.
» Muschamp will take the field with Florida as the team’s head coach for the first time on Saturday. He has never served as a head coach on the collegiate level before and, at 40-years-old, is the second-youngest to hold said position in the SEC (Dan Mullen, 39).
» On the other side, Schnellenberger will be beginning his 27th year at the helm of a college football program – his last as he will retire at the conclusion of the 2011 season. He is 157-140-3 all-time and 57-63 at FAU since taking over the team 11 years ago.
» After defeating the Gators the first three times he faced them with Miami (1979-81), Schnellenberger has failed to notch another win. All four of his losses (1982, 1983, 1992, 2007) were games played in Gainesville, where he has not won in 31 years.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida has won 88 percent of its home games (117-16) since 1990, the best home winning percentage in the nation. In that period, the Gators are 55-4 against non-conference opponents and 92-4 against unranked teams.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Florida Atlantic have only met on one other occasion – Nov. 17, 2007 – when the Gators stomped the Owls 59-20. Quarterback Tim Tebow went 25/34 for 338 yards with three touchdowns and an interception through the air and also rushed 11 times for 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Andre Caldwell did most of the receiving with 13 catches for 164 yards, but tight end Cornelius Ingram corralled a pair of touchdowns and 60 receiving yards. After UF scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter, FAU answered back with 13 points to start the second quarter. However, the Gators outscored the Owls 38-7 the rest of the way to hold on for the victory.

INJURIES

» Active: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (back)
» Questionable: Redshirt junior cornberback Jeremy Brown (knee), redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (shoulder), redshirt junior receiver Omarius Hines (hamstring)
» Inactive: Freshman tight end A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Brantley…who completed only 60.8 percent of his passes (200-of-329) for 2,061 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2010 butis said to have been revitalized by offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s pro-style system.
» Running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey…who are co-starters in the backfield and two of the most dynamic and explosive players in the SEC. Demps and Rainey, both of whom missed game time in 2010, combined for 917 rushing yards (6.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns on the ground as well as 332 receiving yards and three scores through the air.
» Sophomore Trey Burton…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam…who stood out all offseason as the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary. Elam played in all 13 games in 2010 and is looking to make a name for himself this year.
» Sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell…who steps into a brand new position somewhat unique to Muschamp’s defense. Powell only started one game as a true freshman but will be entrenched from the get-go in 2011 as a hybrid player.
» Sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd…who is a defensive tackle but moved to defensive end this year to help the team. Floyd also started one game as a true freshman but plenty of pressure on his massive shoulders as a full-time starter in 2011.
» Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard…who is the man in the middle for the Gators and is the most experienced player (17 starts) on his side of the ball.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. His consistency on special teams should help the Gators be more confident overall.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC
» RB Alfred Morris…who was the team’s leading rusher in 2010 with 928 yards and seven TDs. A redshirt senior, Morris is being counted on as the Owls’ primary playmaker.
» QBs Graham Wilbert…who will make his first start for FAU. The signal caller battled for his job all spring and summer but is very inexperienced only having thrown five passes in his college career.

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Donovan adds Pelphrey, Roberts to Gators staff

A familiar face and an old friend will be joining Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan in Gainesville, FL next season. On Tuesday, the University of Florida announced that a pair of former head coaches – John Pelphrey and Norm Roberts – have been hired as assistants for the basketball team.

“Having John back will be a great addition to our program,’’ Donovan said in a school release. “Obviously, he has a level of familiarity with me and with the University of Florida makes this a great fit. John’s a great coach, he’s a great friend and has a love for Florida, and we’re excited to bring him back. Being from New York, I’ve known Norm for a long [time]. He’s an outstanding coach, he’s a great recruiter, has high character and integrity and I’m thrilled to have him on our staff here at Florida.”

An assistant at Florida for six seasons (1996-2002), Pelphrey will be reunited with his close friend and mentor. He played under Donovan (an assistant at the time) and head coach Rick Pitino with the Kentucky Wildcats and served as an assistant on Donovan’s first coaching staff for two seasons with the Marshall Thundering Herd (1994-96). He joined Donovan when he was hired by UF, helping lead the Gators to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Pelphrey left in 2002 for a head coaching gig with the South Alabama Jaguars, where he led the team for five seasons. He won the Sun Belt Championship, was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year and brought his squad to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. USA would end up falling to Florida in the first round.

Noticing his success at a smaller school, Arkansas hired him to lead their program in 2007. Pelphrey brought the Razorbacks their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1999 in his first season but failed to replicate his success over the following three. He was fired by Arkansas on March 13 even though he had a top-tier recruiting class on its way in.

Roberts, who does not have any direct coaching connection to Donovan, is – like his new boss – a native New Yorker. He most recently served as head coach of the St. John’s Red Storm from 2004-10 but was fired on March 19, 2010, after leading the team to an unimpressive 81-101 record in six seasons.

Donovan is in the middle of reshaping his coaching staff as he has now lost all three of his 2010-11 assistants in one offseason. Long-time cohort Larry Shyatt accepted the top job at Wyoming, assistant Rob Lanier is returning to coach at Texas, and assistant Richard Pitino will join his father’s staff at Louisville.

OGGOA learned on April 3 that Florida Atlantic assistant Matt McCall is a top candidate to fill a role on Donovan’s revamped coaching staff. Another option is former Florida player Brett Nelson, who coached under Pelphrey at Arkansas last season.

Photo Credit: Unknown, Chris Trotman/Getty Images

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Report: Pelphrey to return as Gators assistant

UPDATED STORY: Donovan adds Pelphrey, Roberts to Gators staff

Former Arkansas Razorbacks head coach John Pelphrey will rejoin the Florida Gators basketball team as an assistant coach, a source told Jeff Goodman of FOX Sports Tuesday. An assistant at Florida for six seasons (1996-2002), Pelphrey will be reunited with Gators head coach Billy Donovan, his close friend and mentor.

Pelphrey played under Donovan (an assistant at the time) and head coach Rick Pitino with the Kentucky Wildcats and served as an assistant on Donovan’s first coaching staff for two seasons with the Marshall Thundering Herd (1994-96). He joined Donovan when he was hired by the University of Florida, helping lead the Gators to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Pelphrey left UF in 2002 for a head coaching gig with the South Alabama Jaguars, where he led the team for five seasons. He won the Sun Belt Championship, was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year and brought his squad to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. USA would end up falling to Florida in the first round.

Noticing his success at a smaller school, Arkansas hired him to lead their program in 2007. Pelphrey brought the Razorbacks their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1999 in his first season but failed to replicate his success over the following three. He was fired by Arkansas on March 13 even though he had a top-tier recruiting class on its way in.

Donovan is in the middle of reshaping his coaching staff after losing long-time assistant Larry Shyatt to a head coaching job with Wyoming. He may also see Rob Lanier head out the door to be an assistant at Texas, and Richard Pitino could join his father at Louisville, which suddenly has an opening.

OGGOA learned on April 3 that Florida Atlantic assistant Matt McCall is a top candidate to fill a role on Donovan’s revamped coaching staff.

Photo Credit: Carrie Pratt/St. Petersburg Times

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South Alabama upsets No. 18 Florida at home

Starting the season 8-0, the No. 18 Florida Gators (8-3) lost consecutive games to the No. 5 Syracuse Orange and Richmond Spiders – both at neutral sites. Returning to their home court in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for the first time in two weeks, the Gators hoped to right the ship against the Sun Belt Conference’s South Alabama Jaguars. Instead, South Alabama (9-5) had Florida on its heels all night and eventually landed a last-second layup to pick off the Gators 67-66 on their home court.

Jaguars guard Tim Williams was the star of the evening, scoring a game-high 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting while going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. He also added seven rebounds. For Florida, junior forward Alex Tyus led the way with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, freshman guard Kenny Boynton was 3-for-10 (2-of-7 from three) with 14 points and junior transfer center Vernon Macklin added 13 points in the paint. Tyus and Macklin each brought down seven rebounds while junior F Chandler Parsons, senior F Dan Werner and sophomore point guard Erving Walker each recorded six.

“For them to come in to our own building and beat us like that, it wasn’t the last play that lost us the game,” Parsons said. “It was just the whole mindset.” Boynton agreed. “We just have to get back hungry,” he said. “Early in the season we played with a chip on our shoulder and somehow we got complacent. The rankings got to our heads.”

Prior to playing the Spiders on Saturday, the Gators led the nation in three-point defense. They have since allowed seven threes each to consecutive opponents. Worst of all, Florida was only 3-for-22 from three-point range on Tuesday, a measly 13.6 percent compared to South Alabama’s 63.6 percent (7-for-11). OGGOA was only able to research back to the 1998-99 season, but the Gators have not suffered a regular season upset of this caliber at least in that period of time.

With only three more games to play before beginning Southeastern Conference action in 2010, Florida is set to take on the American Eagles (2-10) on Monday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. in Gainesville, FL. Expect the Gators to be bumped from all polls next week.

UPDATE: Head coach Billy Donovan‘s post-game comments.

“I was actually shocked that we were even in the game coming down the stretch with just our shooting numbers. Shooting 23 percent (from the field in the second half) and 10 percent (from the 3-point line in the second half), I’ve never been around numbers like that before. I’m imploring them to just be resilient, but when it’s shot after shot after shot after shot doesn’t go in, and you’re having to play defense for 30 seconds…not that we need to shoot 50 percent from the 3-point line. We shoot 33 percent from the 3-point line and we shoot 40 percent from the field, that’s all you’re going to do. The 3-point line beat us against Richmond and it beat us again tonight. At a point, guys got to deliver. When you’re a junior and senior in college, you’ve got to deliver a little bit. Dan goes 1-for-6 and Chandler goes 2-for-8. It’s hard to overcome that. They’re playing hard.”

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