Gators basketball topples Trojans 80-58

Florida Gators basketball (3-0) got back on track Friday night, using a team-high 23 points from freshman guard Kenny Boynton to defeat the Troy Trojans (2-1) 80-50 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. After starting 0-for-5 from the floor and finishing the last game 0-10, sophomore point guard Erving Walker rebounded with 13 points in the second half along with three assists and six rebounds. Boynton also added four assists and six rebounds of his own.

Other double-digit scorers for the Gators included forwards junior Chandler Parsons and senior Dan Werner, who contributed 15 and 12, respectively. Parsons led Florida with seven rebounds while Werner found his touch, going 4-for-5 from three-point range.

Junior F Alex Tyus contributed two blocks and nine points but left the game with a sprained right ankle as time ticked away in the second half. “I am concerned about Tyus’ ankle,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the game. “I don’t know where that’s at.”

The Gators remain home for their next game against the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at the O’Connell Center. The game will air live on Sun Sports – check your local listings.

In other news… No. 13/13 Florida volleyball (20-5, 14-4 SEC) dropped a 3-1 heartbreaker (22-25, 25-23, 25-25, 25-22) to the Tennessee Volunteers (21-7, 14-4 SEC) on the road Friday. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy recorded her nation-leading ninth triple-double of the season and the 15th of her career, while sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel contributed her eighth double-double of the year. Tennessee’s Nikki Fowler turned in a match-high 19 kills and was one of four Lady Vols to reach double figures in the victory. The Gators return to action on Sunday against the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, KY. Opening serve is set for 2 p.m.

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FOUR BITS: 3s, weekend games, Spikes, injuries

1 » Florida Gators basketball (2-0) looks to keep on rolling as they take on the Troy Trojans (2-0) Friday at 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Shooting a combined 3-for-29 (10.3%) from behind the arc, the Gators are bucking a trend head coach Billy Donovan set upon his arrival to Gainesville, FL. Florida has traditionally been among the best in the Southeastern Conference in three-point shooting percentage as Donovan has made it a priority both in his recruiting and game plans. “I think for guys like Kenny [Boynton] and Erving [Walker], it is probably somewhat uncharacteristic,” Donovan said. “They have been shooting the ball well in practice. Chandler [Parsons] and Dan [Werner] are guys that maybe have been a little more up and down in their careers.”

2 » There’s plenty of other Gators sports action on the docket for the weekend. Men’s and women’s swimming & diving begin their participation in all-day weekend tournaments Friday. Women’s basketball (1-1) faces the No. 25 Pittsburgh Panthers (1-0) in Pittsburgh, PA, on Friday, and No. 13/13 volleyball (20-4, 14-3 SEC) heads to Knoxville, TN, to serve against the Tennessee Volunteers (20-7, 13-4 SEC) – both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. Volleyball will then travel to Lexington, KY, to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (26-2, 16-1 SEC) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

3 » Senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes has been named as one of the five finalists for the 25th annual Butkus Award honoring the nation’s top linebacker. Other finalists include Rolando McClain of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Sergia Kindle of the Texas Longhorns, Sean Weatherspoon of the Missouri Tigers and Eric Norwood of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

4 » Redshirt juniors running back Emmanuel Moody (sprained ankle) and defensive tackle Terron Sanders (rib/back) have been ruled out for the Florida International Golden Panthers game on Saturday. According to head coach Urban Meyer, senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham is “50-50” for the game with an unspecified injury. This is a good week to rest any banged up players prior to the regular season finale against the Florida State Seminoles next weekend.

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Soccer moves on in NCAAs as volleyball falls

Earning a No. 3 regional seed in the 2009 NCAA Championship, the Florida Gators soccer team (16-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) took down the Illinois State Redbirds (12-7-1, 5-1 MVC) 2-0 in the first round of the tournament Friday night at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, OH. Going scoreless in the first half, the Gators turned it on after the break as sophomore Tahnai Annis and redshirt freshman McKenzie Barney scored two goals in a seven-minute span. Florida has advanced in the tournament and will face the Oregon State Beavers (13-7-1, 4-5 Pac 10) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in second round action.

Coming off an eight match streak where they swept each opponent in straight sets, the No. 10/11 Florida volleyball team (20-4, 14-3 SEC) was taken to task by the No. 19/17 LSU Tigers Friday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Tigers beat the Gators 3-1 (24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 25-17), sweeping the regular season series between the two teams. LSU’s Brittnee Cooper and Marina Skender combined for 36 of 52 kills while Florida was led by sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and her team-high 18 kills. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy recorded her nation-leading eight triple-double of the season and the 14th of her career with 13 kills on .333 hitting with 29 assists and 15 digs. The Gators hit the road next weekend, traveling to Knoxville, TN, to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. Florida swept Tennessee in straight sets on Oct. 4.

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Gators women’s sports set for big day Friday

Three University of Florida women’s sports teams are set for action on Friday, each beginning one hour after another. First up is the Florida Gators soccer team (15-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC), which is in Columbus, OH, for the first round of the NCAA Championship. The Gators will face the Illinois State Redbirds (12-6-1, 5-1 MVC) at 5 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The winner of the match will face the victor of the Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon State Beavers game on Sunday in second round action.

Also on the docket for Friday, the softball team (4-0) will host Chipola College in what is basically preseason action at 6 p.m. at Pressly Softball Stadium. So far this season, the Gators have played two games each against Santa Fe College and Seminole College, coming out victorious in all with an average 6.25 run margin of victory.

To close out the evening, No. 10 Florida volleyball (20-3, 14-2 SEC) will take on the Southeastern Conference West division-leading No. 19 LSU Tigers (20-5, 14-2 SEC). Since being swept 3-0 by the Tigers on Oct. 11 in Baton Rouge, LA, the Gators have been playing outstanding, scoring sweeps against eight consecutive opponents. Florida and LSU are tied for second place in the league standings with a victory Friday going a long way for the Gators. The game will air live from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. on SUN Sports.

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Florida brings in baseball, volleyball commitments

Selected in the 44th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, right handed pitcher Frank DeJiulio (Ocala, FL) turned down a professional contract and decided to return to school. This week during the NCAA’s early signing period, DeJiulio officially accepted his scholarship and committed to the Florida Gators. Standing 6’3″, DeJiulio played one season for Daytona State College after high school and could be used as a starter or closer with the Gators.

Also signing national letters of intent with the Gators this week are setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, AZ) and libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, IN). The two women, standing 5’9″ and 5’7″ respectively, are elite-level players who are both expected to compete as freshmen beginning in 2010. “In Chanel and Taylor, we have signed two elite athletes that bring both high-level skills and a lot of energy to the court,” volleyball head coach Mary Wise said. “Gator fans are going to enjoy watching them play throughout their careers.”

[UPDATE:] Apparently women’s basketball wanted to get in on the action too, signing four high school recruits to 2010 letters of intent on Wednesday. Forward Deaundra Young and guards Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, FL), Kayla Lewis (Decatur, GA) and Brittany Shine (Sacramento, CA) all committed to head coach Amanda Butler, who could not have been more pleased to accept each of them. “There is not another group of players I would want to coach and I cannot wait to begin working with them,” Butler said. “These four players understand how special it is to be a Gator and that’s very important to me. They have great personalities, are super talented and each has a tremendous work-ethic.” Young, 6’2”, is the prize recruit of the class and is rated the nation’s 48th-best player (No. 8 forward) according to ESPN HoopGurlz. She is the niece of LaShawnda Jackson, a former letterwinner with the Florida track and field team. ESPN also ranks Lewis as the No. 16 small forward, Shine as the No. 25 guard and Bonds as the No. 32 shooting guard.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow’s protection, margin of victory, volleyball sweeps (again), Lacroix wins

1 » One reason for senior quarterback Tim Tebow’s struggles? A porous Florida Gators offensive line. Tebow has taken 21 sacks on the season, eight more than he did in 2007 and six more than 2008…and he still has five games left to play. Some of that can be blamed on Tebow holding on to the ball too long, but the majority of the fault falls on the men supposed to be protecting the Heisman Trophy winner. “We don’t take pride in giving up sacks,” redshirt junior left tackle Carl Johnson said. “We try our best to protect him, try our best to make sure he has time in the pocket. Teams are just blitzing a lot – sometimes they bring more than we actually can protect.” Could offensive line coach and new offensive coordinator Steve Addazio be in over his head? It is a common theme going around, even if players and coaches don’t admit it.

2 » While everyone is going seemingly off the deep end about Florida’s offensive struggles, I took a minute and checked out the nine wins so far this season. Here are the margins of victory: 59, 50, 10, 34, 10, 3, 10, 34, 24. Now look at the numbers through the first nine games in 2006: 27, 42, 1, 19, 15, 13, -10, 7, 6. Not counting the preseason non-conference games, the Gators are averaging a 17.4-point margin of victory in 2009 compared to 7.3 in 2006. Now obviously one team is coming off a National Championship season while another was trying to find its footing for much of the year. But in comparing the two teams, which has been done defensively all season, you see a group that has won by double digits in every game they have played except for the squeaker against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Not bad.

3 » No. 9/11 Florida volleyball (20-3, 14-2 SEC) continues to roll in Southeastern Conference play, sweeping the Auburn Tigers (14-12, 6-9 SEC) 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-13) on Sunday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Sophomore outside hitters Kristy Jaeckel and Colleen Ward combined for 22 kills and 15 digs as the Gators went on to score their 20th win of the season. It has swept eight straight SEC opponents and next faces the LSU Tigers on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. The match will air on Sun Sports.

4 » Gators tennis had a busy weekend, but nobody played better than junior Alexandre Lacroix, who won the singles consolation final at the ITA National Indoor Championships on Sunday. Lacroix, the No. 23 player in the nation, defeated No. 46 Ed Corrie of the Texas Longhorns in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1. Now that the fall season is complete, tennis will next play in mid-January at the SEC Indoors.

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Soccer, tennis fall; Volleyball sweeps Georgia

Friday was a tale of two outcomes for University of Florida sports teams, with soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and volleyball all in action across the country. The most important game of the day was No. 8 Florida Gators soccer (15-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) taking on No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks (17-3-1, 7-3-1 SEC) in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference Championship Tournament in Orange Beach, AL.

After winning the regular season and defeating the Tennessee Volunteers in the first round, the Gators fell 1-0 to the Gamecocks. Ironically enough, Florida defeated South Carolina 3-0 one week ago in Gainesville, FL, to clinch the SEC regular season title. The Gamecocks scored their lone deciding goal off of a penalty kick at 10:36 in the first half, the first to be successfully scored against the Gators all season.

Also in action were players from the school’s tennis teams. Freshman Allie Will dropped a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision to Pichittra Thongbach of the Boise State Broncos in the round of 16 at the ITA National Indoor Tennis Championships. Considered the second leg of the collegiate Grand Slam, Will was the lone Florida female to earn a spot in the event and now holds a 20-3 singles record and 13-3 doubles mark on the season. The men’s doubles team of junior Alexandre Lacroix and redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau, who were previously undefeated, lost an ITA quarterfinal match 8-6 to Tennessee’s Boris Koncic and Rhyne Williams. Lacroix, who was also competing in singles consolation action, won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over Patricio Alvarado of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

Last but certainly not least on the evening was No. 9/11 Gators volleyball (19-3, 13-2 SEC), who earned their seventh consecutive sweep of a league opponent by taking down the Georgia Bulldogs (14-11, 5-9 SEC) 25-16, 25-20, 25-14. Four Florida players hit better than .500 and sophomore hitters Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy combined for 23 kills on the night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Volleyball will be back in action on Sunday against the Auburn Tigers in Gainesville at 1:30 p.m. The match will air live on Sun Sports.

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Recruiting visits for Vandy, update on Knight

Four-star cornerback John Fulton (Manning, SC) will be taking a trip to the University of Florida for an official visit this Saturday when the Florida Gators take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. Fulton is currently favoring his hometown South Carolina Gamecocks and Alabama Crimson Tide. With Florida already having a plethora of cornerback commitments, he may just be doing his due diligence.

More football, basketball and volleyball recruiting news after the jump…
Continue Reading » Recruiting visits for Vandy, update on Knight

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