4 BITS: Every, women’s basketball, gymnastics

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Matt Every on Sunday clinched his first-ever PGA Tour victory, winning the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL. Every, whose third-round 66 vaulted him into the lead, finished -13 for the tournament and edged Keegan Bradley by a single stroke. The victory results in him receiving earnings of $1.12 million (more than he has made in the rest of his career, combined), 500 FedEx Cup points and an automatic qualification to the 2014 Masters in April. A native of Daytona Beach, FL, Every played at Bay Hill dozens of times throughout his life and long dreamed of winning a PGA Tour event at the course, which is located about an hour from where he grew up.

At Florida from 2003-06, Every was a four-time All-American and three-time first-team All-SEC selection. He is the second former Gators golfer to capture a PGA Tour event title in as many years after Billy Horschel won the 2013 Zurich Classic last April.

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Florida Gators F Christin Mercer charged with conspiracy to commit robbery

Florida Gators sophomore forward Christin Mercer, the women’s basketball team’s most efficient shooter and second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game, was arrested and released on her own recognizance over the weekend after allegedly taking part in a home invasion and robbery that occurred on May 31, 2013.

According to notarized documents dated Dec. 18, 2013 and obtained Tuesday by OnlyGators.com, Mercer and another co-defendant have been charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, a third-degree felony.

Three of Mercer’s other co-defendants were charged with home invasion robbery with a mask and firearm, a first-degree felony “punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment,” according to Florida law 812.135.2a.

The documents include an official statement from State Attorney William Cervone and a signature of approval from prosecutor George Wright, affirming that Mercer and one of the four other co-defendants cooperated with investigators and provided information under oath.

The police report, also obtained Tuesday by OnlyGators.com, lists Mercer as an unnamed female who was the alleged getaway driver for the home invasion.

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Florida women upset No. 6 Kentucky in Lexington

Florida Gators women’s basketball (12-4, 2-0 SEC) pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history on Sunday afternoon, hanging an 83-73 road defeat on the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats (13-2, 1-1 SEC) at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, KY.

Sunday’s victory broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and extended the Gators’ current winning streak to eight games, their longest since the 2008-09 season.

Florida won due to some tremendous play from its two backcourt stars.

Senior guard Jaterra Bonds, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, led all players with a game-high 23 points on 6-of-14 shooting. She hit 10-of-12 free throws and also added six rebounds on the afternoon.

Freshman G Ronnie Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 boards for Florida, going 9-for-13 from the field and registering two blocks in the contest.

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Top 13 for 2013: Florida’s best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2013 (see the Not Top 13 for 2013), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to earning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2013. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 13 for 2013.

13 » A NEW TRADITION
Florida’s football program did not get much right in 2013, but instituting a new pre-game tradition – a “celebrity” serving as Mr. Two Bits in honor of the original, George Edmondson – was absolutely a bright spot. The Gators also picked the perfect person to kick off the new tradition with former running back Errict Rhett performing as if he was made for the role. Others had trouble stepping up to the high benchmark set by Rhett, but the honorary Mr. Two Bits was nevertheless a great sight for fans all season long…even if the team was not. OnlyGators.com sat down with Rhett after his appearance for an extensive interview about the experience and his career.

12 » 15-INNING MARATHON
In the fourth-longest game ever played at the Women’s College Series (longest since 1992), Florida softball prevailed 9-8 over Nebraska in a night game that lasted 15 innings and more than five hours, spanning into the early morning of the next day. The Gators lost two separate leads in the contest before rallying to score two runs in the top of the 15th; UF conceded a run in the latter half of the inning but held on for the victory. Unfortunately for Florida, it had to suit up just hours later for an elimination game against Texas at 1 p.m., one it lost 3-0. The Gators were ranked No. 2 entering the 2013 NCAA Tournament but fell short of a title.

11 » ALL HE WANTED WAS A CHANCE


Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy waited patiently as he got overlooked time and time again, most recently by head coach Will Muschamp and his offensive coordinators in favor of younger players with higher ratings coming out of high school. When junior QB Jeff Driskel went down with a fractured fibula against Tennessee, Murphy finally got his shot and made the most of it. Over a three-game stretch including games on Sept. 21, Sept. 28 (at Kentucky) and Oct. 5 (vs. Arkansas), Murphy completed 39-of-54 passes (72.2 percent) for 530 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. (He also gained 135 yards and picked up two more scores with his legs.) Unfortunately for him, Murphy injured his shoulder on Oct. 12 against LSU and was simply not the same player as he took the field in more pain than he or the coaching staff decided to admit publicly. Murphy missed the final three games of the season due to that injury and ultimately transferred, feeling Muschamp would not give him a fair chance to win the starting job in 2014.

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FOUR BITS: Muschamp, volleyball, Sloan, Driskel

1 » Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp apparently provided Pat Dooley, columnist for The Gainesville Sun, with a few minutes of his time at some point over the last week and dropped a couple tidbits of information about the program and where it is headed. Below are some of the most notable nuggets from the 2,000-word column, much of which makes excuses provides reasoning and perspective for Florida’s tough 2013 campaign. You can check out in full by clicking here.

* Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who just last year saw his team get ravaged by injuries before finishing the 2012 season 5-7 (2-6 SEC), called Muschamp personally to provide support. “He said he couldn’t imagine what we were going through. I got a lot of calls like that. Everyone has injuries, but I had guys in this league who called and said, ‘I don’t know how I would have handled it.’”

* Out of all the injured Gators, only sophomore running back Matt Jones (torn meniscus) and freshmen linebackers Matt Rolin (torn ACL) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder surgery) are expected to miss spring practice. Dooley reports: “Muschamp told me he plans to bump the start of spring practice to later in the year to make sure [junior quarterback Jeff] Driskel is completely rehabilitated after his leg injury.”

* Muschamp said he tried to be more easy-going this season in order to combat much of the negativity the players had to face each week. He regrets that decision. “I tried to make it fun for them and they were used to me being an [expletive] for two years.”

Check out four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: track, Tebow, Lewis, Moss

1 » A total of 10 current and former Florida Gators qualified for the 14th IAAF World Outdoor Championships over the weekend by competing in events across the globe. Twenty-one Gators participated at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships from June 19-23 in Des Moines, IA, with six moving on to the next stage of competition. Senior Omar Craddock and reigning Olympic silver medalist Will Claye finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. (Olympic gold medalist and 2012 World Champion Christian Taylor will also compete in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.)

Olympic relay silver medalist Tony McQuay and freshman Arman Hall finished two-three in the men’s 400 meters, Kerron Clement qualified with a fifth-place finish in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, and junior Cory McGee came in third in the women’s 1,500 meters but must still meet the “B” standard qualifying time before heading off to Moscow. Additionally, Novlene Williams-Mills won the Jamaican title in the women’s 400 meters, junior Eddie Lovett will race the men’s 110-meter hurdles for the Virgin Islands, and senior Ugonna Ndu will compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles for Nigeria. Ndu can also qualify for the 100-meter hurdles by meeting the “B” standard qualifying time in that event prior to the start of the World Championships.

2 » New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow has been keeping a low profile with his new team, just as the front office and coaching staff asked, but he is hoping to make up some of the money he lost after New York waived him with a new investment. Tebow, already a co-owner of a D1 Sports Training facility in Tampa, FL, recently signed on with the fast-growing chain restaurant PDQ as the company’s latest investor. A Tebow-owned PDQ, the company’s eighth location, will open in Jacksonville, FL, later this summer. He also has options to purchase additional stores and may open another location in Jacksonville as well as one or two more in Alachua County. Tebow happened in to a PDQ for lunch one day while taking a break from his charity work in Tampa. He returned to the restaurant that evening for a second meal and immediately asked his management company, XV Enterprises, to learn more about the chain.

Check out two more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Moss, Carter, Miller, Bonner

1 » Less than two weeks after freshman guard Chandler Cooper announced she would be leaving the Florida Gators women’s basketball team and transferring to Lipscomb, two more members of the 2012-13 squad have decided to join her in exiting the program. According to The Alligator’s Phil Heilman, freshman guard/forward Sydney Moss will also transfer and junior center Vicky McIntyre, who transferred in last year but did not play the final eight games of the season, plans to leave the program. Moss, a star recruit for the Gators and member of the 2013 All-SEC Freshman Team, started 24 of 37 games, averaging 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. She was also dominant for Florida in the 2013 WNIT, leading the Gators in scoring (19.6 points), rebounding (9.0), assists (4.0) and field goal percentage (.571) during the event. Moss is an exceptionally big loss for head coach Amanda Butler, who was hoping to assemble for next season one of Florida’s most talented teams in years. The Gators signed their first-ever women’s McDonald’s All-American in 2013 five-star F Ronni Williams (Daytona Beach, FL) back in November.

2 » While transfer guard Eli Carter waits to learn if new Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann will sign off on his waiver to play immediately at Florida, he and head coach Billy Donovan have a decision to make. According to his father Dale Carter, who spoke with The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway, Eli has been provided with the opportunity to play for the Jamaican National Team over the summer, a decision the player will let Donovan make. Donovan allowed – and even encouraged – G Mike Rosario to play with the Puerto Rican National Team last summer, a move that helped Rosario improve and mature both on and off the court. Chances are, if Carter desires to spend part of the summer in Jamaica playing basketball, Donovan will approve.

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SIX BITS: Alabama, Spikes, Tebow, Cooper, Black

1 » Multiple reports on Saturday confirmed that the Florida Gators’ football schedule will not be getting easier any time soon. Though future schedule details have yet to be officially released by the Southeastern Conference, Tuscaloosa News reporter Cecil Hurt and ESPN blogger Chris Low respectively noted on Saturday that it has been decided that Florida will face Alabama in 2014 and/or 2015. The standard rotation of SEC West opponents was interrupted in 2012 when Missouri and Texas A&M were added to the league. UF never got a return game against Auburn after hosting AU in 2011, picking up TAMU in 2012 and now UA in 2014 and/or 2015. The Gators and Crimson Tide just finished a rotation in 2010-11. Florida is facing Arkansas this year for the first time since 2009 despite not having taken on Ole Miss since 2008. If Alabama does wind up on the schedule for the next two seasons, the Gators and Rebels will not go head-to-had until at least 2016, a seven-year gap.

2 » New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes missed nearly two months of voluntary workouts with his team, opting instead to train at Bommarito Performance in South Florida in hopes of proving to the coaching staff that he can be a three-down player this season. According to reporters on site, Spikes attended the start of mandatory minicamp Monday morning and will be with the team going forward. He will take a standard physical on Monday before practicing with the team for the first time since the end of the 2012 season from Tuesday-Thursday.

3 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan will be travelling to Colorado Springs, CO within the next week to begin coaching the USA Basketball under-19 team as it prepares to do battle on the world stage. Last week, however, he spent some time in Miami, FL watching three of his former players participate in the 2013 NBA Finals. Below is a picture of the Donovan family – including three named “Billy” – chatting it up with power forward Udonis Haslem after his Game 2 victory.

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