FOUR BITS: Women’s basketball upsets Georgia

1 » Led by a strong effort from seniors guard Steffi Sorensen and forward Sharielle Smith, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team (14-13, 7-7 SEC) achieved a 64-57 upset over the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs (20-7, 7-7 SEC) in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sunday. Sorensen and Smith combined for 31 points and 14 rebounds as the Gators earned their first victory against a ranked opponent in more than a year.

2 » No. 7 men’s tennis (7-2) continued its terrific play this season, taking down the South Florida Bulls (3-5) 6-1 on Sunday at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. The No. 10-ranked doubles duo of redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau and junior Alexandre Lacroix won its 20th match of 2009-10 with an 8-2 victory. Lacroix, ranked No. 17 as a singles competitor, took down No. 91 Jamal Adderley, 6-2, 6-4 for his 11th win against a ranked opponent this season.

3 » Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is one of the most famous Gators fans in professional sports. From attending games to razzing teammates who are fans of opposing teams, Pierzynski is not shy about his Florida pride. That includes wearing orange and blue shoes around MLB camp last week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

4 » The Gators want three-star tight end Michael McFarland (Tampa, FL) to gain weight. His high school basketball team? Not so much. “They want me to put 10 to 15 pounds of solid muscle on before I get there,” McFarland told the St. Petersburg Times. “I want to start [working out] so bad.” McFarland, at 6’6” 240 lbs., is his team’s starting center and has two weeks to go before he can begin Florida’s workout routines.

Extra BIT » High school junior Lindsey Cooper, the younger sister of former Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper, recently made unofficial visits to Florida and Florida State as she decides where to attend college on a soccer scholarship. A standout at Clearwater Central Catholic High School, Cooper hopes to sprint for a university’s track and field team as well.

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TWO BITS: Four more SEC titles, women fall to UK

Opening BIT » Congratulations to forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks for a career-high 31 points in his 200th NBA game on Wednesday! “In the fourth quarter, I looked up at the scoreboard and I was pretty excited about it,” Horford said. “Obviously, I’m more concerned about winning. But when you’re able to do something like that individually, it always feels good.”

1 » Coming through with two titles, one Southeastern Conference record and one school record on the first day of competition, Florida Gators swimming and diving completed its second of four days of competition in the 2010 SEC Championships by taking home three more individual conference titles as well as a relay title. Junior Conor Dwyer and seniors Shaune Fraser and Gemma Spofforth all won individual SEC Championships, while the Gators women’s 200 free relay team defended its title. Florida now has six SEC titles in the first two days of the meet. The Gators men’s and women’s teams each led their respective fields going into Thursday’s events; however, both fell to second by the time the day was over. UF also achieved numerous NCAA qualifying times throughout the day. Day three of the SEC Championships begins Friday at 10 a.m. from the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia.
Men: Auburn (291 points), Florida (282), Georgia (205)
Women: Georgia (300 points), Florida (266), Auburn (248)

2 » While the men’s team bounced back with a win Thursday against Auburn after suffering consecutive losses, Florida women’s basketball (13-13, 6-7 SEC) fell to their third-straight ranked opponent on the road against the No. 16 Kentucky Wildcats (22-4, 10-3 SEC) in the Memorial Coliseum. A three-pointer by senior guard Lonnika Thompson with 9:04 remaining in the game brought the Gators within two points of the Wildcats (47-45), but Florida would allow Kentucky to outscore them 30-6 in the remaining time to pull off a 77-51 victory. Dooming the Gators were 23 turnovers and poor defense – the Wildcats shot 66.7 percent from the floor. Florida will try to bounce back against another ranked opponent, the No. 20 Georgia Bulldogs, who they host in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sun., Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2.

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SIX BITS: Lee, Spikes, Cooper, Tebow, Jones-Drew

1 » New York Knicks forward/center David Lee, a former Florida Gators standout who is averaging a double-double of 20 points and 11.4 rebounds in his fourth professional season, has been selected as a replacement reserve for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Lee will take the place of Philadelphia 76ers point guard Allen Iverson (personal reasons) and will join Atlanta Hawks F/C Al Horford in Dallas, TX.

2 » Former Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes has decided to continue training in Gainesville, FL, as he prepares for the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February. His agent, Terry Watson, spoke with The Gainesville Sun about Spikes. “He’s doing well,” Watson said. “He continues to work out hard and he’s eating well. He’s fully committed to a plan that will get him ready for the Combine.” Also in Gainesville working out with Florida strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti is wide receiver Riley Cooper. “Coach Mick is the best,” Cooper said. “I’m following the same plan Percy (Harvin) did a year ago under Coach Mick.”

Four more very informative Florida Gators BITS after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Lee, Spikes, Cooper, Tebow, Jones-Drew

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FOUR BITS: McCray’s ring, Sunday sports wrap

1 » On Sunday, New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray became the 13th former Florida Gators football player to win a Super Bowl as his team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Miami, FL. The Saints’ starting defensive end, McCray totaled two tackles and a quarterback hurry during Super Bowl XLIV. He is the first former Gators defensive player to win a ring since DE Kevin Carter did it with the St. Louis Rams in 2000 (Super Bowl XXXIV).

2 » While most of the country was focused on the Super Bowl, the Florida women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-4 SEC) was in Gainesville, FL, hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-9, 6-5 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators kept it close all game, eventually pulling out a hard-earned 80-78 double-overtime victory. Senior guard Lonnika Thompson scored all of her 11 points in overtime while classmates G Steffi Sorensen and forward Sharielle Smith each recorded double-doubles. Redshirt sophomore G Jordon Jones was responsible for the game-winning free throws with only 2.7 seconds left to lift Florida for the win.

3 » Following in the footsteps of their male counterparts, the No. 7 Gators women’s tennis team (5-0) completed a sweep at home over the weekend. The Florida women took on and defeated the Troy Trojans 7-0 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. No. 13-ranked freshman Allie Will and No. 81-ranked senior Marrit Boonstra each won their singles matches and combined as the No. 26 doubles duo to take the event’s first doubles match 8-1.

4 » The Florida club cycling team took home the annual Swamp Classic in Gainesville, FL, on Sunday. Called “one of the most dominant teams in the nation,” by The Gainesville Sun, the Gators group seemingly dominated the event from start-to-finish. For more, read Ray FItzGerald’s report here.

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SIX BITS: 2010 class, Tebow, Smith, awards

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer spoke candidly with The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley after National Signing Day on Wednesday. He was surprised there was not a worse reaction to his temporary resignation but actually had fun dispelling numerous rumors about his next job. “[Five-star defensive end Ronald Powell called me at 3 a.m. and] wanted to know if I was going to ESPN to replace Lee Corso,” Meyer said. That’s what he had been hearing. I just laughed.” Four-star offensive lineman Chaz Green, Florida’s last commitment, had the same question. In the end, for a man dealing with stress, his 2010 recruiting class gave him the best gift of all: relaxation. “I left my phone on (Tuesday) night but I went to sleep,” he said. “I got up, no messages. What is that? That’s the first time since I have been married I wasn’t on the phone at midnight the day before Signing Day. And we were done with the faxes by noon.”

Five more BITS including Tim Tebow’s new organization, Emmitt Smith’s upcoming honor, the women’s basketball team’s loss and much more after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: 2010 class, Tebow, Smith, awards

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TWO BITS: Gators earn 26th commit, QB Murphy

1 » Two-star dual-threat quarterback/athlete Tyler Murphy (Wethersfield, CT) is the newest member of the Florida Gators unanimously ranked No. 1 2010 recruiting class. Courted by QB coach Scot Loeffler and interim head coach Steve Addazio, Murphy took an official visit to Gainesville, FL, this weekend and committed on the spot. Murphy was previously committed to the Temple Owls, but as soon as the Gators offered him, it became apparent that he would end up in the Orange & Blue. “It’s been very exciting,” he told ‘Mark Wheeler of Rivals. “Just to know where everything falls into place and that all the hard work pays off. It’s very exciting and I’m very happy to be able to come down [to Florida].”

»» Rivals is also reporting that the Gators and 2010 three-star tight end commitment Michael McFarland (Tampa, FL) have agreed to have him grayshirt the 2010 season and enroll with the 2011 recruiting class. McFarland was reluctant at first, out of pride, but realized that this move would benefit him in the long run. Grayshirts usually wait until the second semester to enroll in school instead of in the fall. This move would open up an additional scholarship for Florida to fill before National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

2 » Florida women’s basketball and No. 8 tennis were in action on Sunday, both taking home victories. Basketball (11-9, 4-3 SEC) defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks (10-9, 3-4 SEC) 59-56 while tennis swept the North Texas Mean Green 7-0. Senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 11 points while freshman F Jennifer George grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

Photo Credit: Mike Orazzi

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Walker leads Gators past Razorbacks, women lose

Sophomore point guard Erving Walker turned in a career-high 27 points to lead the Florida Gators (13-5, 2-2 SEC) over the Arkansas Razorbacks (8-10, 1-2 SEC) 71-66 on the road at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, AR. Walker began the game by hitting his first five shots (four from downtown) and finished 7-of-12 (5-of-6) on the night.

Junior forward Alex Tyus started 0-for-5 but finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the eighth double-double of his career. Tyus hit the boards hard in the second half, as did fellow junior F Chandler Parsons who left with 11 rebounds but only six points on 1-of-8 shooting after initially going 0-for-7. Razorbacks’ guard Courtney Fortson completed a double-double of his own with 14 points and 11 assists, while G Rotnei Clarke led Arkansas with 17 points shooting 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

The Gators started the game 2-of-12 from the field and 0-for-3 from downtown until Walker made a three to tie it up at 11. He finished the half with 15 points while the rest of the team was only 4-of-25 from the field and 0-for-6 from three for 11 total points. Walker continued his dominance in the second half with an opening trey, a shot that gave him Florida’s last 10 points on both sides of the break.

A 10-2 run by the Razorbacks would tie the game, and a three-point play by Fortson gave Arkansas the lead back for the first time in the second half. Clarke would go on to score 11-straight points for the Razorbacks including a three that put Arkansas back up 56-55 with 6:40 remaining. However, the Gators countered with a 9-0 run, would eventually take a game-high nine-point lead and were able to hold on from there.

Freshman G Kenny Boynton contributed 13 points but was only 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Senior F Dan Werner and freshman F Erik Murphy were a combined 0-for-7 from the field; Werner was ineffective throughout the contest while Murphy was tentative in the paint and missed a number of easy layups and put-backs.

Florida was able to out-rebound Arkansas 42-29. The Gators only shot 35.5 percent from the field compared to 44.2 percent by the home team, but made 21-of-26 free throws against Arkansas’ 12-of-17 from the charity stripe.

The Gators return home to face the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.
The Florida women’s basketball team (10-9, 3-3 SEC) lost 82-58 on the road in Tuscaloosa, AL, to the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-10, 1-5 SEC) at the Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide were previously winless in conference play before absolutely throttling the Gators Thursday night. Florida’s 24-point loss was their worst this season. Tierney Jenkins led Alabama with a double-double on 28 points and 12 rebounds while Celiscia Farmer and Ericka Russell added 19 and 18 points, respectively. Senior forward Sharielle Smith was the Gators’ most productive player with nine points and nine rebounds.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: NFL Combine, Strong poaches recruit

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Ryan Stamper, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James have received invites to the 2010 NFL Combine. Juniors who have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft have yet to receive invitations, but fans can expect DE Carlos Dunlap, cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Aaron Hernandez and safety Major Wright to participate in the event from Feb. 24 to March 2 in Indianapolis, IN.

2 » Three-star athlete Marcus Smith (Columbus, GA) had an outstanding scholarship offer from Florida and was prepared to take it…that is until Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong came calling. “If Louisville would have never been in the mix, I would have probably went to Florida,” Smith told the Courier-Journal. “But I’m glad Louisville came into the mix. I like coach Strong a lot, and I really wanted to play for coach Strong. Louisville is a great program. He wants me to play quarterback, he established that during our talk this morning. To tell you the truth, I just want to play, so I am good wherever he wants me.” Upon taking his position with the Cardinals, Strong said he would not poach recruits the Gators were interested in unless they initiated contact.

3 » The Gators hosted their biggest remaining recruiting weekend the past few days and a number of both committed and undecided prospects came away impressed. Four-star running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), who at one point was wavering after head coach Urban Meyer announced his leave of absence, solidified his recruitment after getting extensive time with new running backs coach Stan Drayton. Brown also told Adam Gorney of Rivals that Meyer may return as soon as March. “He looked pretty fine to me,” Brown said. “He looked healthy. I know he wants to coach, so I know he’s going to be there. He’s going to take a couple weeks off in February, but he’ll be back.” Fellow four-star recruits offensive tackle Chaz Green (Tampa, FL) and wide receiver Christian Green (Tampa, FL) raved to numerous sources about their respective experiences.

4 » Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers with just two seconds remaining in the game, the Florida women’s basketball team gained a bit of revenge by taking down the Mississippi State Bulldogs 55-52 on the road on Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. Sophomore guard Trumae Lucas scored seven points off of the bench in the waning minutes while senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting while also grabbing seven boards.

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