The Fastbreak: No. 3 Gators topple Vols 67-58

No. 3 Florida Gators basketball (22-2, 11-0 SEC) pulled away late in the second half on Tuesday evening to oust the Tennessee Volunteers (16-9, 6-5 SEC) on their home court and pick up a 67-58 win at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN.

The Gators won their 16th-straight game and picked up a victory for the 21st time in their last 22 contests. Florida has also started the season 11-0 in league play and put together the second-best start to a campaign in program history (24-2, 2006-07).

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

It was over when… / Perfect play: Florida senior center Patric Young, chasing down an offensive rebound with his team holding a late six-point lead, laid his entire body out as he dove for the ball, snatching it away from two Tennessee players and tossing it to a teammate before sliding out of bounds. The effort resulted in two free throws for UF, which ultimately held on for the victory. Young only scored six points and eventually fouled out of the game, but five of his six boards came from the offensive glass.

“It was an incredible play, I thought, by him. He sold out,” explained head coach Billy Donovan after the game. “Two guys were in front of him; he ran past [them] and made an incredible save and helped us come with the loose basketball. Really it was an incredible play by him, effort-wise, in the game with four fouls.”

Prominent player: Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin struggled with his shot throughout the game (as well as his decision-making at times) but ultimately led Florida with a career-high 21 points. He made 10-of-12 free throws – going 5-for-6 over the final 51 seconds of the contest – and also contributed six assists and four steals.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » The Fastbreak: No. 3 Gators topple Vols 67-58

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Short-handed Gators fall to Vols in Knoxville

Playing without their two primary reserves in a tough road atmosphere, the No. 6/8 Florida Gators (22-5, 12-3 SEC) were dealt an upset at the hands of the Tennessee Volunteers (17-10, 9-6 SEC), which took down their rivals 64-58 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN on Tuesday evening.

Tennessee extended its winning streak to six games by defeating a Florida team playing with just six rotation players in an environment in which it now has a record of 5-12 under the helm of head coach Billy Donovan.

Volunteers guard Jordan McRae took advantage of the Gators’ undersized backcourt and posted a game-high 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds and four assists. UT forward Jarnell Stokes played physical in the post and made the most of UF’s depleted frontcourt as he racked up eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds including six on the offensive glass.

Continue Reading » Short-handed Gators fall to Vols in Knoxville

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Road woes continue as Vols top Gators 67-56

An 11 a.m. start time did nothing to help the No. 13 Florida Gators (12-4, 0-1 SEC) shake off their season-long struggles on the road as the team opened up Southeastern Conference play with a 67-56 loss to the Tennessee Volunteers (8-7, 1-0 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Gators fell to 2-8 in their last 10 contests against the Vols in Knoxville, TN and are now 0-4 in true road games this season including two losses in the last 10 days. UF’s 56 points were a season low and the fewest the team has posted since scoring 54 against Kentucky on March 13, 2011.

Florida got out to a sluggish start and Tennessee held even with them the entire way with the two teams trading the lead for the first few minutes of the game.

Ahead 20-17 after a 5-0 run, the Volunteers lost their advantage when the Gators responded with a 7-1 run of their own to go up three; however, UT answered right back with a 7-2 scoring stretch to jump ahead 28-26.

A three-pointer from junior guard Kenny Boynton gave UF a 29-28 advantage, but Tennessee capped the first half with a 5-0 run including a three by G Trae Golden with five seconds remaining to take a 33-29 lead into the break.

The second half started the same way for Florida with the Gators missing shots, turning the ball over and being taken to the hoop on defense. The Vols began incrementally increasing their lead throughout the half and jumped ahead 15 points with an 8-0 run capped by a trey from G Cameron Tatum.

Tennessee maintained that advantage nearly the rest of the half as Florida was unable to hit a field goal for 8:23, missing 11-straight shots. The Volunteers eventually took a game-high 16-point lead with less than two minutes to play, hanging on for an impressive victory over a ranked opponent.

The Gators shot just 35.7 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from downtown while their opponent was better than 50 percent from both locations. Florida outrebounded Tennessee 37-34 but turned the ball over 15 times and gave up 32 points in the paint. UT’s bench also outscored UF’s 25-1 over the course of the game.

Volunteers forward Kenny Hall and a pair of Gators – Boynton and junior F Erik Murphy – all posted 13 points each. Murphy went 5-for-7 from the field for Florida and had a game-high four blocks, while sophomore center Patric Young and Tennessee F Jeronne Maymon each had a game-high seven rebounds.

Gators freshman G Bradley Beal struggled once again with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting (1-for-5 from downtown) with five boards and five turnovers. Senior point guard Erving Walker was just 3-for-8 from the floor with three turnovers and two assists.

UF will look to rebound from another tough road loss with a home game against rival Georgia on Tuesday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

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Team effort propels Florida to OT win in Knoxville

The Florida Gators won their fifth-straight game and eighth in their last nine contests with a 81-75 overtime victory against the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN, Tuesday evening.

The Gators (13-3, 2-0 SEC), who had all five starters score in double figures and only four points from their bench, held off rally after rally from the Volunteers (10-6, 0-2 SEC) on the way to winning their first overtime game in two tries this season.

Senior forward Alex Tyus, who scored a team-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in his best performance of the season. Classmate F Chandler Parsons was equally efficient for Florida, hitting 4-of-5 attempts from downtown and 5-of-7 overall for 16 points.

Down five early, UF used a 10-1 run to take a 19-15 lead thanks to two stellar dimes from freshman point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Tennessee responded with a 14-2 run to take a game-high eight-point lead (29-21) with over five minutes remaining in the half.

Back-to-back threes from Parsons fueled an 11-0 run for the Gators, who held the Volunteers to one basket in the final 5:46 of the half and took a 32-31 lead at the break.

Florida jumped ahead to their own game-high eight-point lead on Parsons’ third trey, though a 7-2 run by Tennessee tied the game at 64 with less than four minutes to go.

Tyus, stepping up to the line for a one-and-one with 42 seconds remaining, missed his free throw and the chance to put UF ahead late in the game. He redeemed himself with a game-saving block on the next possession.

Junior PG Erving Walker received an inbounds pass from Parsons with five seconds left but air-balled a fadeaway three with time running out to send the game into overtime.

The Gators put their foot on the pedal in the extra period, scoring six-straight points to open overtime and using a 9-2 run fueled by a pair of three-pointers by sophomore guard Kenny Boynton to take a 77-70 lead with 45 seconds left. Florida missed three free throws during the stretch but held off five quick points by Tennessee to prevail.

Parsons added six rebounds to his point total, while redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin contributed 11 points and five rebounds as the team’s third frontcourt starter. Boynton and Walker finished with 17 and 15 points, respectively.

UF’s starters scored 77 of the team’s 81 points on Tuesday, but freshman C Patric Young posted a stellar performance with seven rebounds including four off the offensive glass and all four of the Gators’ bench points. Wilbekin added three dimes and three steals, played stellar defense and did not turn the ball over once.

Volunteers Gs Cameron Tatum and Scotty Hopson combined for 41 points on 50 percent shooting with eight total rebounds. Tatum turned the ball over a game-high five times but also handed out four assists. Tennessee also benefited from a strong presence inside the paint as F Tobias Harris accounted for a double-double with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds.

UT was without head coach Bruce Pearl, who was suspended from participating in the first eight Southeastern Conference games of the season after being caught committing numerous recruiting violations.

Florida’s fifth-straight victory set a season-long streak and was their first in Knoxville since 2005. The Gators have scored 71 points or more in each of their last four games after failing to do so in their seven prior contests.

Photo Credit: Wade Payne/Associated Press

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Florida Gators at Tennessee Volunteers Gameday

Location: Thompson-Boling Arena – Knoxville, TN [Capacity: 21,678]
Time: 9:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Sirius/XM: None
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Bruce Pearl
Record: 12-3 (1-0) Record: 10-5 (0-1)
Division: SEC East Division: SEC East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Tennessee -3.5; O/U: 136.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Tennessee leads the all-time series against Florida 69-49, is 10-3 in the last 13 meetings and is 5-0 in the last five games played in Knoxville. However, UF won the last contest between the two teams 75-62 at home in Gainesville. Donovan is 13-15 against UT with a 4-10 record on the road.
» Struggling offensively most of the season the Gators have scored an average of 77.3 points per game over their last three games while shooting a hot 46.9 percent (23-for-49) from three-point range.
» Florida has out-rebounded 13 of 15 opponents this season – including in its three defeats – and is doing so by a +7.9 rebound per game advantage.
» UF is No. 1 in the NCAA in fewest personal fouls per game (13.6). They have made more free throws (199) than their opponents have attempted (197).
» The Gators and Volunteers each best each other in two of four major statistically categories nationally. Florida holds advantages in assists 74th-136th (14.9-13.7) and field goal percentage 60th-152nd (.466-.443), while Tennessee scores more points 72nd-149th (75.1-70.7) and grabs more boards 29th-73rd (39.9-38.1). The Gators rank 14th in RPI (.6449) and 8th in strength of schedule compared to the Volunteers being 22nd (.6152) and 3rd, respectively.
» Tennessee will be playing without Pearl manning the bench. The Volunteers’ head coach received an eight-game suspension due after findings revealed that he committed a substantial number of recruiting violations.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who is leading his team in scoring with 14.3 points and leading the backcourt in field goal percentage (46.5%), free throw percentage (76.9%) and three-point percentage (44.9%). He has single-handedly accounted for 35 of Florida’s 86 treys this season. Walker became the 47th player in school history to score 1,000 points, accomplishing the feat during Saturday’s game.
» Senior forward Chandler Parsons…who back to averaging double-digit points (10.4) while leading the Gators with 6.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-high 58.1 percent this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 10.9 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 has been marred in a slump this year. Boynton is only shooting 37.1 percent from the field and 28.7 percent from beyond the arc. He is second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game and hits 73.2 percent of his free throws. Boynton has had a four-point play in three-straight games. He is 4-for-4 on those opportunities this season and 6-of-6 for his career.
» Tennessee G Scotty Hopson and F Tobias Harris…who combine to score for 31.8 of their team’s 75.1 points per game. The duo also contributes by posting combined averages of 10.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
» Volunteers G Melvin Goins…who is fourth on the team in scoring with 8.9 points per game but is shooting almost 45 percent from downtown. Goins also contributes three rebounds and assists per contest.

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SIX BITS: A.C. Leonard, golf, tennis, b-ball, softball

1 » ESPN has taken to praising 2011 athlete recruit A.C. Leonard (Interlachen, FL), a current Florida Gators commitment. Called “a jack-of-all-trades in high school,” Leonard is projected as a tight end or defensive end in college and worked out extensively at the former position during the Jacksonville, FL, Under Armour combine over the weekend. Leonard continues to impress and remains a solid verbal commitment.

2 » No. 4 Florida men’s golf took home its seventh straight SunTrust Gator Invitational title on Sunday, shooting a team score of 279 (-1) in the final round at the Mark Bostik Golf Course. Up nine strokes going into the final round, the Gators doubled it up and won by 18. Seniors Tyson Alexander and Tim McKenney, along with redshirt junior Andres Echavarria, tied for third place with a total score of 212 (+2).

Four more BITS on tennis, women’s b-ball and softball’s rebound after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: A.C. Leonard, golf, tennis, b-ball, softball

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