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Thursday Sports Update (2/26)

By on February 26th, 2015

O’Connell Center renovations are delayed, Gator softball wins again, Florida women’s basketball looks for wins, SEC men’s hoops, NFL news and more in our Thursday Sports Update…

** Proposed renovations to the O’Connell Center, scheduled to start this year, have now been postponed for a year.   Officials cited rising costs and a change in the construction management team as some of the reasons for the delay.

** The Florida softball team remains unbeaten (17-0) after a close 2-1 home win over UCF Wednesday; next up a tournament in California.

** The Florida women’s basketball team looks for a win tonight at Alabama.   The Gators are under .500 for the year with only one more regular season game remaining.

** In SEC men’s hoops, Georgia downs Ole Miss 76-72 and top ranked Kentucky remains unbeaten with a 74-56 win over Mississippi State.

** In high school basketball, Hawthorne is denied the Class 1A state championship after losing to Chipley 69-40 in Lakeland in the championship game yesterday.   Gainesville High will play a state semifinal game on Friday against Orlando Edgewater.

** In the NBA, Miami downs Orlando 93-90 in overtime.

** NFL teams continue to cut veteran players as running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Jacoby Jones and linebacker AJ Hawk are among some well known names cut by their teams.

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Florida Softball Defeats UCF in Pitcher’s Duel

By on February 26th, 2015

Pitcher Aleshia Ocasio high-fives catcher Aubree Munro after the game

Freshman Aleshia Ocasio adds another strong start to her college resume as the top ranked Florida softball team beats the 15th ranked UCF Golden Knights, 2-1 Wednesday in Gainesville. The Gators now lead the all-time series 16-3.

Ocasio moved to 5-0 on the year, adding eight more strikeouts to bring her up to 49 on the year in just 35.2 innings. She has started four times this year in the circle, and each time she has finished the game. Ocasio accredits the help of her team to her fast start.

“My team has been doing a great job in helping me getting adjusted to the collegiate level. It’s been great,” she said.

It was a slow night for the Gator offense. Shelby Turnier of UCF pitched well in the loss. The first run to cross the plate for Florida was when Kirsti Merritt hit a double, and then scoring on two illegal pitches by Turnier. One inning later, sophomore Kelsey Stewart drove in junior Taylor Schwarz with a RBI double. Stewart had struck out in her previous two at-bats and had to make adjustments.

“I was just trying to make solid contact, just score the run. Really I did not make my adjustments as well as I should in my first two at-bats. So I had to talk to coach and other girls in the dugout and I made a better adjustment.”

Now, Florida travels to California to compete in the San Diego Classic (Feb. 27-Mar. 1) and the Judi Garman Classic (Mar. 5-Mar. 7). They will also be facing Long Beach State on March 4. Some of the teams the Gators will be facing are second ranked Oregon, third ranked Michigan and number 15 Arizona. Florida coach Tim Walton believes there is still room for improvement for his team.

“We got to get better. You saw tonight, facing a good pitcher with too many swing and misses. Way too many really big unnatural swings that I have not seen from our team this year. Going to have to get better but it’s good. You don’t win national championships in February and you don’t win them in March.

For full audio clips of quotes above and more, click below:

Walton recaps the game

Stewart on the adjustments she made during the game

Merritt talks about how big Ocasio has been for the team

Merritt is aware of the tough competition that lies ahead

Ocasio on how she has been successful as a freshman

Walton expresses that his team still needs to get better

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Gators Host UCF in a Sunshine State Showdown

By on February 25th, 2015

The top ranked Florida softball team (16-0) take on the 17th ranked UCF Golden Knights (12-1) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium at 6 p.m. today.  This will be the only meeting between these two teams in the regular season.

Florida beat UCF twice last season, by 10-6 and 7-0 scores.   All time, UF leads the series 15-3.

The Gators are one of the hottest teams in the country as the first month of the season is wrapping up. With the help of stellar pitching and a recent power surge, Florida has collected 26 of 28 first place votes in USA Today’s Top 25 Poll.

Senior outfielder Briana Little is pumped for the second half of the year to get underway.

“I’m just really excited for the rest of the season now. We got the first half out of the way and now we’re here getting into the better half. I just have high hopes for everyone.”

Little is coming off the greatest single game offensive performance in Gator softball history. In the first game of the doubleheader against Mercer on Sunday, Little was locked in. She knocked three home runs out of the park along with driving in nine runs, both Gator single game records. Freshman utility player Kayli Kvistad says the lineup’s success is a testament to how they practice.

“It’s just a lot of hard work and dedication in practice. In the game, you just hit how you practice.”

After tonight’s game, Florida travels to California to compete in the San Diego Classic (Feb. 27-Mar. 1) and the Judi Garman Classic (Mar. 5-Mar. 7). They will also be facing Long Beach State on March 4. Some of the teams the Gators will be facing are second ranked Oregon, third ranked Michigan and number 15 Arizona.

For full audio clips of the quotes above and more, click below:

Briana Little can’t wait for the second half of the season

Kayli Kvistad discusses the importance of practice

Tim Walton comments on team’s recent power surge

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Wednesday Sports Update (2/25) Congratulations Hawthorne!

By on February 25th, 2015

Hawthorne High School’s boys basketball team plays for a state title, SEC hoops, UF Pro Day announced and more in our Wednesday Sports Update…

** Coach Greg Bowie and his Hawthorne High School boys basketball team plays for a state title today in Lakeland against Chipley in Class 1A.   The Hornets advanced yesterday with a 57-40 win over Crescent City.

** The Florida men’s basketball team drops two games below .500 after losing to lowly Missouri 64-52 Tuesday night.   The Tigers had lost 13 straight league games before beating the Gators, who next host Tennessee Saturday.

** In other SEC action, Arkansas is now in second place in the league by beating Texas A&M 81-75; LSU tops Auburn 84-61 and Alabama beats South Carolina 59-51.   Tonight, Kentucky plays Mississippi State and Georgia plays Ole Miss.

** The Gator baseball team is now 7-1 after beating Florida Atlantic 10-8 last night in Jupiter, Florida; up next a home weekend series against Stony Brook.

** The Florida softball team takes a 16-0 record into a game today with UCF at home at 6 pm.

** Pro Day at the University of Florida, where NFL scouts and coaches come to evaluate Florida’s draft eligible talent is usually held in March but this year it will be held on April 7.

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UF Men’s Hoops Fade Down The Stretch; Fall To Missouri 64-52

By on February 25th, 2015

Unfortunately for Gator fans, Florida men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan will have to wait at least three more days to claim his 500th win. Florida lost its second straight game on Tuesday night, falling to the Missouri Tigers by a final score of 64-52.

It was a tale of two halves for both teams inside Mizzou Arena, with the Tigers making all the right plays down the stretch. The Gators held a 45-39 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining but in a span of 10 minutes, the Tigers went on a 16-2 run that would seal Florida’s fate.

The Gators (13-15, 6-9) played relatively well in the first half shooting a respectable 43 percent from the field. The Gators went into the locker room up 31-27 holding all the momentum and the hope was that very same success would continue for the final 20 minutes as well.

Unfortunately, that would not be the case, and once again, the Gators would see yet another second half lead slip away. Florida was outscored 37-21 in the second half, shooting just 33 percent from the field and while the team struggled in seemingly every facet down the stretch.  Donovan noted the team’s poor shooting percentage from the charity stripe as the most disappointing.

“We go there 23 times which is a lot for us and you go 9-for-23. And in essence that was the game and we’ve never shot the ball particularly well, 5-of-23 from the three point line but we gave up 19 points, some of it from the free throw line, but we really just made some bad decisions when it was a six point game.”

The Gators finished the night with just two players in double figures in freshman forward Devin Robinson and senior center Jon Horford who scored 14 and 10 respectively. This was the third straight double digit game for the freshman and it would appear he is finally starting to figure things out. Robinson also finished with six rebounds and two blocks and it would seem the extra minutes that he has garnered with the absence of Michael Frazier II and Dorian Finney-Smith is really starting to pay off.

The surprise of the night had to be what the Gators saw out of Horford. Going into Tuesday night’s game, the former transfer hadn’t reached double figures in 15 games, and his 10 point first half performance was certainly an unexpected sight. Unfortunately, those would be the only points for the big man on the night, as Horford was unable to connect on either of the two shots he took in the second half.

Outside of those two, the Gators saw little success from anyone that touched the floor. Redshirt junior Eli Carter finished with just two points, shooting 1-of-7 from the field and sophomore point guard Kasey Hill ended the night with just five. To put things in perspective, the Gators third highest scorer was former walk-on Jacob Kurtz, who ended the night with seven. The Gators struggled to maintain any sort of consistency on offense and Donovan is still baffled as to why his team is simply unable to put all the pieces together.

“We’re trying as hard as we can, and for whatever reason, I’ve said it before, I’m unable, you know, having a hard time getting through to them and the things we’ve got to do that go into winning, and you try to practice them and work on them and talk to them and for whatever reason we’re not able to see it translate onto the court and into these games.”

The Tigers (8-20, 2-13) entered this game riding a whopping 13 game losing streak, in sole possession of last place in the SEC. Missouri’s only conference win came back on January 8th, in their SEC opener over LSU.

Since then, Tiger fans have found very little to cheer about, but on Tuesday night they simply would not be denied.  Despite shooting 38 percent in the first half, the Tigers would turn things up a notch shooting a whopping 50 percent in the second half and that would propel them in the final 10 minutes.

The Tigers were led by an unlikely figure in freshman guard Namon Wright who put together a career night, finishing with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field. This was just Wright’s fourth double digit performance of the season and his first since January 17th against Tennessee.

Missouri’s leading scorer, Johnathan Williams III entered Tuesday’s game averaging a team high 12.4 points per game but finished with just nine. The underclassman shot just 1-of-4 from the field and did the majority of his damage from the free throw line. Despite Williams finishing with less than spectacular numbers, Donovan boasted about the play of Kim Anderson’s talented freshman.

“The guy that really hurt us was Wright; he shot the heck out of the ball. We didn’t really have anyone in our backcourt that could match up with him and he rose up over our guys who missed him in transition and he was able to carry the scoring load for them.”

Now the Gators will look to regroup as they return to Gainesville to meet Donnie Tyndall and the Tennessee Volunteers. This will be the first match up between the two schools this season and Donovan notes his guys will need to be prepared for a tough matchup.

“We’ll go against a complete zone team on Saturday and they’ll be a lot to get prepared for playing them for the first time. It will be a battle for this group.”

In the coming days Gator fans will find out whether or not they will see the return of either Michael Frazier II or Dorian Finney-Smith and with just three games left in the regular season, having one or both of their top two scorers back on the court would be a big lift.

If there is one positive you can take from the loss to Missouri, the Gators will now have two opportunities to give Billy Donovan his 500th win at home, in front of what they hope will be a capacity crowd inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

To hear the audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Billy Donovan talks about the areas of weakness and where they struggled the most

Billy Donovan talks about defending Missouri’s Johnathan Williams and the success of Namon Wright

Billy Donovan says the team is simply unable to showcase what they’re really capable of doing during games

Billy Donovan talks about facing Tennessee

 

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Florida Baseball Picks Up Win on the Road at FAU

By on February 25th, 2015

The second-ranked Florida Gator baseball team (7-1) defeated the Florida Atlantic Owls (6-2) on the road in Jupiter, Florida 10-8 Tuesday night.

The Gators trailed early, finding themselves down 3-0 following the second inning, but went back and forth with the Owls before placing themselves in the lead for good in the top of the eighth.

Right-handed sophomore Brett Morales got the start on the mound for the Gators, going just 2 and 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs.

The Gators would go on to use six pitchers over the course of the game, with right-hander Mike Vinson picking up the win and right-hander Taylor Lewis picking up his second save of the season.

The Gators also struggled a bit in the field, matching FAU with three errors, and Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan talked about his team’s performance.

“It was one of those nights where both teams were a little sloppy. We uncharacteristically didn’t play great defense…made some mistakes on the defensive end,” O’Sullivan said. “Obviously we had the pitchers go to the mound tonight that were a little bit inconsistent, which was a little surprising because some of those guys are coming off of good outings in the last week or so.”

Although the pitching and defense were a bit shaky, the offense looked in top form.

The Gators banged out 13 hits to lead them to 10 runs. Freshman catcher JJ Schwarz drove in three runs for Florida, while junior shortstop Richie Martin scored three runs in the game. Sophomore outfielder Buddy Reed also had a strong night, recording three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

The Gators now look ahead to a weekend matchup with the Stony Brook Seawolves. O’Sullivan previewed the upcoming opponent.

“We got a good Stony Brook team coming in this weekend, a World Series team a few years ago,” O’Sullivan said. “They’ve got a really good number one starter. I think they’ll go left, left on the weekend, Friday and Saturday, with their starters. So another good weekend of playing someone that’s a good quality opponent.”

The Gators will host the Stony Brook Seawolves on Friday to open up the 3-game set at 7 p.m.

For more sound from Kevin O’Sullivan, click below.

O’Sullivan 1

O’Sullivan 2

O’Sullivan 3

O’Sullivan 4

O’Sullivan 5

O’Sullivan 6

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UF Men’s Hoops Seek Second Win In February Tuesday Night At Missouri

By on February 24th, 2015

The Florida Gator men’s basketball team will be looking to right the ship on Tuesday night when they travel to Columbia to meet the Missouri Tigers.

With just four games left in the regular season the Gators will be looking to put together any sort of momentum as the SEC Tournament approaches. Luckily for the Gators they will be facing off with quite possibly the worst team in the SEC.

The Tigers (7-20, 1-13) enter this game dead last in the conference having lost 13 straight games. This will be the first meeting between the two schools this season and the fifth all-time.

The Gators (13-14, 6-8) are coming in fresh off a seven point loss to the LSU Tigers and haven’t fared much better in recent weeks having lost five of their last six. On Tuesday night the Gators will once again be without their top two scorers. Junior shooting guard Michael Frazier II will miss his fifth straight game with an ankle injury, while redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith will miss his second straight game after being suspended for a violation of team rules.

This means Billy Donovan’s squad will once again need “others” to step up in order for the team to find success. Against the Tigers, the Gators did finish with two players in double figures but Donovan notes his guys have been unable to play well for an entire 40 minutes.

“There are times when we play really, really good basketball, but then there are times when we don’t. I think they are battling, fighting and trying to do it, but we are just not able to do “it”, so to speak, long enough.”

The Gators have been struggling to find sufficient offense as they are currently shooting an abysmal 43 percent from the field, which ranks them 192nd in the country. With Frazier and Finney-Smith out, the team is shooting a poor 25 percent from beyond the arc. While the Gators will be going into this next game with their top scorer averaging just 8.9 points per game, Donovan knows his team his still capable of putting up points.

“We are challenged on offense; we are. I think if you look at the guys that are playing and you look at shooting percentages from the three-point, free throw and field, it’s a struggle. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful. What it means is that you have to be really committed to the things you have control over.”

The Tigers, despite being in the midst of one of their worst seasons ever, should pose a tough threat to the Gators. Despite just the seven wins, all of the Tigers victories have come inside Mizzou Arena. The Tigers are currently led by sophomore forward Johnathan Williams III who is averaging 12.4 points on the year. The underclassmen is tied for the team lead in blocks with 16 and leads the team in rebounds with 189 and Donovan notes his team will have to key in on him.

“He can catch it with his back to the basket and make post moves. He can catch it, step away from the basket and shoot threes. So, there is really nothing that he can’t do wherever he catches the ball that he can go make a play.”

A win on Tuesday night will be very important with the Gators looking to position themselves in a much better draw for the SEC Tournament. A win will also bring the Gators back to .500 on the season and if the team has any sort of postseason aspirations, every game will be make or break.

Donovan is also still stuck on 499 career wins and a win on Tuesday night would make Donovan the second fastest man to reach that mark, behind Bob Knight. That 500th win would without a doubt be the shining moment in the midst of a down year, and this game against one of the league’s worst, should be the Gators best chance of making that accomplishment happen.

Tip-off between the Gators and Tigers is set for 9 pm and you can hear all the action of Tuesday’s game on Country 103-7 the Gator with coverage starting at 8:25.

For the audio of the quotes above, click on the links below:

Donovan talks about his team playing 40 minutes of good basketball

Donovan talks about the offense

Donovan talks about Jonathan Williams III

 

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Tuesday Sports Update (2/24)

By on February 24th, 2015

Gator hoops, high school hoops, SEC hoops, Gator baseball and more in our Tuesday Sports Update…

** The Florida men’s basketball team tries to get back on the winning track tonight when it plays at Missouri; live action can be heard on Country 103-7 The Gator at 8:25 pm.

** Other SEC men’s hoops games tonight as well.  South Carolina is at Alabama; LSU visits Auburn and Texas A&M is at Arkansas.

** Hawthorne High School’s boys basketball team is at the State Tournament in Lakeland today in a semifinal game against Crescent City.

** In the NBA, Miami downs Philadelphia 119-108.

** The Gator baseball brings a 6-1 record into a game tonight at Florida Atlantic University; live coverage on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 6:25 pm.

 

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Logano Wins Daytona 500

By on February 24th, 2015

24 year-old Joey Logano, who started Sunday’s race in the fifth position, overcame a host of big names to become the second-youngest winner of the Daytona 500. The newly married man led just 31 laps on the day, but found the lead in a wild last two laps and was able to coast across the finish line due to a green-white-yellow-checkered finish.

“There was a lot of anxiety and a lot of nerves before the race,” Logano said. “It couldn’t be any better. It’s an amazing feeling that I can’t really put into words.”

Despite his win, Logano was nowhere to be heard in conversations during the week. Arguably the biggest storyline at Daytona was Jeff Gordon participating in his final race at the famed track. Gordon started in the pole position and led for a race-high 87 laps, but a late wreck gave him a 33rd place finish.

“I’m a little sad because this is my final Daytona 500,” Gordon said. “But I’m more upset that we didn’t have a shot to win at the end.”

Another notable name that’s certainly very well known around Daytona International is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was looking to become the first back-to-back champion since Sterling Marlin in 1995. Junior was in contention throughout the race, but made a strategic error on a restart with 19 laps to go that dropped him from the front of the pack. He did battle back for a third place finish, but felt he could have got to victory lane.

“We had a really fast car, maybe the best car here,” Earnhardt said. “I’m just a little disappointed I let the guys down, we should’ve won the race.”

Earnhardt Jr. and his father were previously the only drivers to win the Daytona 500 when starting the race in the top five; Joey Logano joined that pair on Sunday. This was Logano’s seventh victory since the start of last season, which is tied for tops in NASCAR.

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Monday Sports Update (2/23)

By on February 23rd, 2015

Gator sports, Daytona 500, spring training and more in our Monday Sports Update…

** A lot of Gator sports over the weekend.   The highlights include a series win by baseball over Miami, softball’s wins to move them to 16-0 and women’s tennis extending its home court win streak to 138 straight matches.

** Joey Logano is the winner of the Daytona 500, winning under a caution flag.   Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finish behind Logano.

** Major League Baseball camps are opening up around Florida and Arizona.

** James Hahn gets his first career PGA win by taking the Northern Trust Open in a playoff in California.

** In the NBA, Orlando downs Philadelphia 104-98.

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