Donovan looking for more from Walker and Hill

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s busy week ahead, which includes two games in a three-day span. He also broke down recent Gators suspensions and some struggles being faced by his pair of five-star, second-year standouts.

BETTER BUT NOT QUITE THERE YET

There is no question that sophomore center Chris Walker has played better in his second season at Florida, though to this point his contributions continue to be more style than substance – a fact not lost on his coach.

Through his first 13 games, Walker is averaging just 5.8 points and 4.1 boards, struggling mightily at times. Outside of a three-game stretch in December when he combined to score 37 points on 17-for-28 shooting (.607) with seven blocks, Walker has scored 39 points while hitting just 43-of-163 shots (.264) with 11 blocks in his other 10 games.

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Florida vs. Mississippi State: Frazier ill, Horford out, Donovan wants Gators to improve culture

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: Fox Sports Networks (James Bates, Daymeon Fishback)
Streaming Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 92/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Rick Ray
Record: 8-6 (1-0 SEC) Record: 7-7 (0-1 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: -17.5 | O/U 115

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Fastbreak: Florida slides by South Carolina 72-68

Florida Gators basketball (8-6, 1-0 SEC) bounced back from a tough end to its non-conference slate to earn a closer-than-it-should-have-been 72-68 victory over the surging South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4, 0-1 SEC) on Wednesday evening at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina.

“The thing that was encouraging to me was I felt like we battled and fought as a group, collectively together as a team. For me, that was a step in the right direction for this group,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the victory.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Wednesday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Leading by five with less than a minute to play, redshirt senior forward Jacob Kurtz hit two clutch free throws to push Florida ahead by seven. South Carolina responded with a corner three by Mindaugas Kacinas to cut its deficit to four with 34.1 remaining, and Kacinas hit another trey – following two free throws from redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith – to make it a three-point game. Junior guard Michael Frazier II then stepped up to hit two free throws to increase his team’s lead to five only to see freshman point guard Chris Chiozza foul the Gamecocks on a made layup, cutting UF’s advantage to two with 6.4 seconds left. Redshirt junior G Eli Carter was the last Florida player at the line, solidifying his team’s lead at four points with two made free throws; Kacinas missed another triple attempt at the buzzer. The Gators went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe over the final 43 seconds.

Significant stretch: Struggling early in the second half, Florida took advantage of a seven-minute field goal drought for South Carolina with a 13-2 run started by a game-tying triple from Frazier. The Gators used a trey by Finney-Smith and three free throws to take a 54-46 lead with less than nine minutes to play. UF held on to that advantage for most of the remainder of the game.

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Gameday: Florida Gators at South Carolina Gamecocks; Horford and Hodskins suspended

Location: Colonial Life Arena – Columbia, South Carolina [Capacity: 18,000]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Jon Sundvold)
Streaming Video: SECNetwork.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Frank Martin
Record: 7-6 (0-0 SEC) Record: 9-3 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Pick ‘Em | O/U 125

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Fastbreak: Florida routs Jacksonville 79-34

Florida Gators basketball (6-4) won its third-straight game by running roughshod over the Jacksonville Dolphins (2-9) on Sunday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

UF only held a 10-point lead at the half but routed JU in the latter 20 minutes, using a 28-4 half-spanning scoring stretch to run the Dolphins out of the building as the Gators picked up an impressive 79-34 victory at home.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Sunday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when / significant stretch: The Gators opened the second half just as hot as they closed the first, erupting on a 22-4 run (28-4 spanning the half) with a pair of threes from junior guard Michael Frazier plus one each from redshirt juniors forward Dorian Finney-Smith and G Eli Carter to double-up the visiting Dolphins with a 56-28 lead. Florida never looked back, using a game-ending 15-0 run (including another Frazier trey) to extend its advantage to a game-high 45 points.

Prominent players: Finney-Smith was dominant on Sunday, posting a career-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting (5-of-7 from beyond the arc). He also added six boards and two dimes to his line. Nearly equalling his teammate’s effectiveness was Frazier, who went 8-for-14 from the field and 6-for-11 from long range to finish with 22 points and six rebounds. The duo combined for 59.4 percent of the team’s scoring and 84.6 percent of its makes from downtown.

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Fastbreak: Yale fails at Florida, Gators win 85-47

Florida Gators basketball (4-4) got back to .500 on the season in dominating fashion, obliterating the Yale Bulldogs (8-3) on Monday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida beat Yale 85-47 and held a 49-point lead during the contest, winning both halves with ease while potentially turning a corner after a rough start to the season.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Monday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when/significant stretch: The second half began. Already leading by 26 coming out of the break, Florida extended its advantage to 35 with an 11-2 run to open the latter period. A pair of threes from redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith, plus another from junior guard Michael Frazier II, gave UF its large advantage, which it would be expanded to 49 with 7:14 to play.

First half focus: Combining a pair of long runs, Florida broke out of the doldrums with a 24-8 scoring stretch over the final 7:21 of the first 20 minutes to lead 46-20 at the break. Frazier was 6-for-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from downtown for 15 points in the opening period, while redshirt senior forward Jacob Kurtz was 4-for-4 for eight points of his own. UF started 2-of-8 from the floor but made 19 of its final 24 shots.

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Fastbreak: Florida works William & Mary 68-45

No. 7 Florida Gators basketball opened the 2014-15 season on Friday evening, hosting the William & Mary Tribe at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gators took down the Tribe 68-45, winning their 24th consecutive season-opening game and improving to 19-0 in such games under Donovan. UF also extended its home winning streak to 33 games, the longest such streak in program history, which is also tied for the longest active streak in the nation.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Friday’s action with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: Florida held an insurmountable halftime lead but still had its share of struggles in the second period. With five minutes left to play, freshmen point guard Chris Chiozza and forward Devin Robinson hooked up on a pair of plays that pushed the Gators’ lead up to 26. Chiozza first hit Robinson for an alley-oop. On the very next possession, Chiozza took off on a fastbreak, finding Robinson under the basket for a layup that put UF ahead 63-37 with 4:45 to play. Chiozza did it all with four points (2-of-2 shooting) with three assists and two rebounds, while Robinson went 4-for-9 from the field with four boards and a late block.

Prominent player: Redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith sprained his left wrist early in the contest but returned after a short trip to the locker room and wound up as Florida’s top performer on Friday. Finney-Smith scored a team-high 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, hitting all four of his free throws and adding five boards to boot. He netted five-straight as part of a 7-0 UF run in the second half and scored nine of the Gators’ first 13 points in the later period. He left the court late in the second half but most likely as a precaution.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
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Donovan: Gators need conviction, commitment

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Thursday, one week before his team takes the court for an exhibition game against William & Mary ahead of the 2014-15 regular-season opener.

WANTING CONVICTION AND COMMITMENT OR “WE ARE NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING” OR 95 PERCENT OF THE GAME

One week before Florida takes the court in the Stephen C. O’Connell center, Donovan has unleashed his season-long mantra: convicted and committed. In other words, Donovan wants the Gators to be strong, resolute and dedicated – to his coaching, to their teammates and to the program as a whole.

Donovan has seen some early returns from his team’s first few practices, but he nevertheless took his standard pessimistic stance on the team’s overall play so close to the start of the season.

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