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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Media Day: New challenges ahead for Florida Gators basketball in 2014-15

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan held a press conference last week as part of his team’s media day and discussed a number of pressing topics facing his team as it began fall practice. Below are some links to stories published here on OnlyGators.com last week as well as a wrap-up of everything else Donovan had to say.

Story: Chris Walker suspended three games, Brandone Francis will not play
Story: Billy Donovan stands behind embattled Will Muschamp
Story: Michael Frazier II must step up game, leadership for Gators

NEW CHALLENGES

The 2014-15 Gators basketball team will be a vastly different group…because that’s what happens when you lose four true-senior starters that amassed the vast majority of your points and logged tons of minutes. Florida was so successful last season not just because of those players’ experience but also due to the fact that they had faced so much adversity that they were motivated to overcome any they encountered during their final year in orange and blue.

This year’s team, well, it’s filled with freshman and sophomores that are used to seeing the Gators as one of the best teams in the nation, coming off a season in which the program only lost three games.

“They haven’t faced any adversity,” said Donovan. “That’s going to be, I think, a challenge that these guys have not been tested in. They can go out there, work really, really hard and may not get the results [they want]. …

“There are a couple of concerns for me. There was no level of consistency at all from our returning players outside of Michael Frazier. There were moments that he played exceptionally well, there were moments that they really did a great job, but there was a discipline issue on the court in terms of being reliable guys game in and game out. That is going to be a challenge.”

It’s not that Donovan thinks this group of players is entitled. Rather, “it’s a lack of not living in the real world” for these players, which likely expect Florida to continue or even improve on its impressive showing from last season.

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Brandone Francis cleared to enroll at Florida

While most of the Florida Gators basketball team has been on campus this summer training ahead of the 2014-15 season, one first-year player has been noticeably absent.

Four-star guard Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was unable to join his teammates this summer while awaiting approval from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

A native of the Dominican Republic, the approval process took longer for Francis, who told OnlyGators.com on Friday evening that he has now received the proverbial thumbs up to enroll at Florida on Sunday, Aug. 24.

“It’s a great day, great day to be a Gator,” he said in an interview with OnlyGators.com Friday night. “Today I got the word that I’m able to enroll in school, and I will be there in nine days on the 24th.

“As an international kid, [the NCAA] wanted to look into my playing history more than some others, but I knew everything would come through fine. There was nothing wrong, they just like to be extra careful on guys coming from outside the United States.”

Continue Reading » Brandone Francis cleared to enroll at Florida

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New Gators basketball players pick numbers

Updated on July 1 at 1:15 p.m.

In the process of finalizing the roster information for 2014-15, the Florida Gators have announced the uniform numbers for the six new players set to play for the first time next season, many of which finally stepped on campus as students on Monday.

TRANSFERS*
» 5 – Alex Murphy (Wakefield, RI), four-star redshirt junior forward
* Murphy joined the Gators in the spring of 2014 from Duke. He will be eligible to play in the spring of 2015 barring the approval of a NCAA waiver.
» 15 – John Egbunu (Fort Walton Beach, FL), four-star sophomore center
* Egbunu joins Florida as a transfer from USF. He will not be eligible to play until the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
» 21 – Jon Horford (Grand Ledge, MI), three-star redshirt senior power forward
* Horford joins UF as a graduate transfer from Michigan.

FRESHMEN
» 2 – Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL), four-star guard
» 3 – Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA), five-star forward
» 11 – Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN), four-star point guard
» 24 – Zach Hodskins (Alpharetta, GA), preferred walk-on guard

CHANGES^
» 14 – Lexx Edwards (Orlando, FL), junior guard
^ Edwards previously wore No. 11, which was taken by Chiozza

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Florida snags five-star 2014 F Devin Robinson

Head coach Billy Donovan is slowly but surely piecing together an impressive 2014 recruiting class for the Florida Gators, boosting his haul Wednesday by receiving a verbal commitment from five-star forward Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA).

Robinson announced his choice at his high school, picking UF over Indiana, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.

The third unanimous top-50 player to join Florida’s 2014 class, Robinson (6-foot-8, 180-pounds) is a talented shot maker who is efficient from long range, drives to the hoop with ease and spreads the ball around when defenders converge.

He is also a solid perimeter defender who will become even more dominant once he adds some much-needed bulk.

Robinson, the 20th ranked prospect in the Rivals150, is now the Gators’ top-rated recruit for the cycle. He is joined in the 2014 class by four-stars guard Brandon Francis (Jacksonville, FL) and point guard Chris Chiozza (Memphis, TN). Francis is ranked 26th in the nation, while Chiozza checks in at No. 38 overall.

Florida has also gained a 2014 pledge from G Zach Hodskins (Milton, GA), who will join the Gators next season as a preferred walk-on.

With four seniors set to graduate, UF is assured of having at least one additional scholarship available for 2014.

Should freshman PG Kasey Hill or incoming power forward Chris Walker declare early for the NBA Draft – or other players transfer out of the program – Donovan may have even more space to add talent to his roster ahead of next season.

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