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Perfect 10 Helps Gator Gymnastics Beats Auburn

By on January 17th, 2015

The Florida gymnastics team had its SEC opener and home meet debut Friday night against the Auburn Tigers. The final score of the meet had Florida at 197.200 and Auburn at 195.650, with Florida topping Auburn on every event. This meet was also the first ever live gymnastics action to air on the SEC Network.

The Gators started off the meet with a bang when freshman Alex McMurtry scored a perfect 10.0 on vault. This was just McMurtry’s second meet ever competing for the Gators. McMurtry naturally was excited.

“When everyone started screaming ‘ten! ten! ten!’ it was just the best feeling and I love that the first meet at home I was able to score a perfect ten,” McMurtry said.

Aside from having the winning vault score, she also won the most entertaining award for the meet. Kennedy Baker also had an impressive vault score with a 9.875.

Despite a fall on beam, Bianca Dancose-Giambattisto did become this meet’s bars champion with a score of 9.95. The only other fall the for the Gators was from Bridgette Caquatto on floor. Kytra Hunter was the meet’s floor champion while also tying with Auburn’s Caitlin Atkinson for the all-around title.

Auburn has not beaten Florida since 2004 but the Tigers got a nice performance from Atkinson who managed to take home the medal on beam along with her tie for the all-around title. This meet marked the 100th opponent for Auburn’s coach Jeff Graba, who is in his fifth season with the Tigers.

The Gators were missing two of their top competitors this meet due to injuries in Bridget Sloan and Jamie Shisler. But senior Kytra Hunter says the team will just keep on trying to do the best it can.

“We’re just going to keep pushing hard and keep training hard,” she said.

On the other hand, three of the team’s four freshmen got their chance to compete. Alex McMurtry on vault, bars, and beam, Kennedy Baker on all events, and Erica Fassbender on floor. This freshman class, including Grace McLaughlin, ranks number one on the 2014-15 top recruiting classes list.

The Gators will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama next Friday to take on the Crimson Tide. But before they hit the road, Gator head coach Rhonda Faehn said they have a few things to improve.

“We’re going to work on getting the landings a little higher and just the crispness in everything, a little bit more aggressive and they’ll get that as the competitions go on.”

To listen to audio clips, click below.

Alex McMurtry talking about getting a perfect score

Kytra Hunter talks about working harder without Bridget Sloan and Jamie Shisler

Rhonda Faehn talking about improvements to make

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UF Men’s Basketball dominate Auburn; Remain undefeated in SEC

By on January 16th, 2015

The Florida men’s basketball team extended its win streak to three games on Thursday night defeating the Auburn Tigers by a final score of 75-55. With this win the Gators improved their winning streak against the SEC to a whopping 24 games and they now sit tied atop the 14-team league with the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Gators (10-6, 3-0) put together yet another dominant performance in a game they never trailed. Florida jumped all over the Tigers early going up 26-8 within the first 11 minutes and they never looked back.

Billy Donovan’s club shot a solid 50 percent in the first half led by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill who went into the locker room with 8 points, shooting 4-of-6 from the field. Despite the lack of a true post player the Gators held a 12 point advantage inside the paint and totaled four more rebounds.

The Tigers (9-7, 1-2) entered this match up on quite the hot streak having won six of their last seven but on Thursday night they were simply outmatched and never found their rhythm. Bruce Pearl’s squad shot an abysmal 22 percent from the field in the first half, shooting just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. Auburn’s leading scorer at halftime had just 6 points and the team went into the locker room with six turnovers and just four assists.

The Gators took a 17 point lead into the locker room and that lead would be consistent throughout the rest of the contest.

The Gators saw yet another big performance out of redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith who finished with a game high 14 points despite shooting 4-of-10 from the field. Doe-Doe was non-existent in the first half thanks to foul trouble but did come alive in the second scoring 12 of his 14, and Donovan said afterwards it didn’t take long for him to get going.

“I think he’s become a little more efficient, he had a couple good tip-ins where he ran the floor, and that was four quick points. He made a couple free throws, knocked down a couple threes and before you know it, with his ability he can manufacture points in a lot of different ways.”

As it would surprise probably no one, the Gators found success from all of their guards Thursday with three of their four finishing in double figures. Hill finished with 12, redshirt junior Eli Carter also finished with 12 and junior Michael Frazier II finished with 11. Even freshman point guard Chris Chiozza found success on the night with nine and Donovan noted afterwards that in order for this team to succeed, not only will his guards have to play well, but they’ll also need to find ways to get the ball inside.

“I think having a better idea of what we’re trying to do offensively, you know, we don’t have a low post game. We don’t have a post-up game and you have to have a balance. But you’ve got to find and do creative things to try and get the ball to the basket.”

On the other side of the coin, it was a tough night for Auburn’s best players.

KT Harrell finished with just eight points and big man Cinmeon Bowers finished as the team’s only player in double figures, but shot a poor 4-of-11 from the field. Despite shooting one percent better than the Gators in the second half the closest Auburn could get was 10 points with just over five minutes to go. The Tigers finished the night with 13 turnovers compared to Florida’s nine and were outperformed in seemingly every category.

In front of a crowd over 10,000 strong, the Gators put together one of their best performances of the season and Finney-Smith said it was great to succeed in all facets of the game.

“It was a great team win. We did a good job on defense. They [Auburn] are a great offensive team, but we just played Gator basketball. Everybody is just playing well together, passing and moving the ball. We are a hard team to beat with four or five guys in double figures.”

Up next the Gators will take their undefeated SEC record on the road as they travel to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.

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

Billy Donovan talks about the team playing strong in tough situations

Billy Donovan talks about his team offensively and what they’re forced to do

Billy Donovan talks about Doe-Doe’s ability to get the ball in the basket

Billy Donovan talks about his guys going on the road on short rest

Kasey Hill talks about having more depth

Eli Carter talks about the team’s ability to keep the momentum on their side


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Friday Sports Update (1/16)

By on January 16th, 2015

As we end the sports week, we’ll talk Gator sports, NFL, NBA, high school sports and more in our Friday Sports Update…

** The Florida men’s basketball team beats Auburn 75-55 Thursday night in Gainesville.  Florida is now 3-0 in SEC play as it heads to Georgia for an afternoon game tomorrow.

** The Florida women’s basketball team plays hard but loses 62-56 Thursday night at nationally ranked Kentucky.   Florida is now 1-4 in SEC play and will host top ranked South Carolina Monday.

** The Florida gymnastics team has its first home meet of the year as it hosts Auburn tonight.

** The deadline for college football underclassmen who are eligible to declare for the NFL Draft has now come and gone.   Yesterday, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones opted to stay at the school rather than turn pro.

** National Signing Day in college football is less than three weeks away and new Florida coach Jim McElwain will have his first big visit weekend starting today.

** A couple of nice high school basketball games in the area tonight as Buchholz travels to play PK Yonge and Gainesville and Eastside will play at Santa Fe College.

** In the NBA, Memphis is at Orlando tonight while Miami continues a west coast swing with a game at Sacramento.

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Gator Women’s Basketball falls to Kentucky, continues losing skid

By on January 16th, 2015

The Florida women’s basketball team moved to 9-9 on the season after losing 62-56 to the 10th ranked Kentucky Wildcats (15-3) on Thursday night in Lexington. The Gators have now lost three games in a row and are currently 1-4 in SEC play.

Despite their inconsistency on offense throughout the season, the Gators managed to keep up with the Wildcats and hold their own against them for most of the game. Florida held Kentucky to just 37 percent shooting from the field in the first half and were down by just one point going into halftime.

The Gators remained competitive in the second half but could only watch in despair as the Wildcats slowly pulled away in the last five minutes of the game. Kentucky’s leading scorer for the season, guard Jennifer O’Neill, helped her team surge toward the win when she hit a 3-point shot near the four minute mark that would put the game out of reach for good.

Although it might be easy to just say that the Gators lost the game in the last few minutes of the game, statistics prove that their excessive turnovers both early and late in the game ultimately cost them this win. Florida had a total of 27 turnovers, 16 in the first half and 11 in the second half. The Wildcats eventually scored 21 points off of those turnovers. Gator head coach Amanda Butler says Kentucky accomplished what they set out to do.

“Had too many turnovers…some things that just are unfortunate, but that’s just…when you’re playing against a great team on their home court, and that’s what they do, that’s what they’re gonna try to do is turn you over and they capitalized.”

Besides their turnovers, the play of Kentucky guard Makayla Epps was another reason why the Gators could never really gain full control of the game. Epps scored 20 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out four assists.

“She just kind of does a little bit of everything for them, she is the epitome of a utility man,” said Butler. “She does a great job of, I think, setting the tone for them and the tempo that they want. And she went 8 for 8 at the free throw line, which was obviously very big.”

Despite this tough loss, Butler says there are still some positives from this game that the team can build on.

“You know, I think there was not just one thing. And certainly, you can’t just look down the stretch, you’ve got to look at the game in its entirety and some of the decisions that we made throughout the game. The thing that were gonna dwell on is that we played exceptionally hard. We outrebounded them and hopefully when we go into our next match up, we’ll be at full strength.”

The Gators will now prepare to face off against the number one ranked South Carolina Gamecocks next on Monday night in the O’Connell Center.

Tip-off is set for 7 pm, but you can catch live coverage of the game on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 6:45.

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Geoff Collins goes from Starkville to Gainesville

By on January 16th, 2015

The Gator Nation welcomes Florida’s new defensive coordinator, Geoff Collins to the football program.

Collins is coming off of a great year in 2014 as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator/ linebackers coach. He has 21 years of coaching experience and proven success in the SEC and those are some of the reasons new Florida coach Jim McElwain brought him on board.

Collins and McElwain are no strangers and Collins explains that he is excited to get the opportunity to work with Florida’s new head man.

“Coach Mac and I have known each other since my first year at Alabama and he came in as I was going out at UCF.  We’ve just kept in contact and been good friends and now there’s an opportunity to work with him.”

In 2014 Mississippi State’s defense, under Collins, produced the second-most sacks (37) in the SEC and was the nation’s top red zone defense. Collins also helped lead Mississippi State to its first 10-win season since 1999.

Collins recognizes the talent that former UF defensive coordinator DJ Durkin has put together on the defensive side of the ball and hopes to take Gator football to the next level.

“I’m big on not being a swag stealer,” says Collins. “I want to create our own energy, create our own branding.”

Although Collins is coming from an established defensive team at Mississippi State, he is looking to tailor the defensive strategy to the skills on the Florida team.

“It’s about the players,” Collins says. “Whatever the players can do, that’s what you better do.  It depends on, as we go through, what we have on the roster which we’ve been able to see a little bit of it, and then what we are able to sign in this class.”

We’ll see what the defense will do under Collins starting this spring.

For full audio on Geoff Collins click below:

Collins’ respect for Will Muschamp and DJ Durkin

Says he wants to create a new brand of defense

The players have responsibility to adjust


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UF Women’s Hoops to play Kentucky tonight

By on January 15th, 2015

The Gator women’s basketball team is set to face off against 10th ranked Kentucky (14-3) tonight in Lexington. The team will be looking to get back on track and snap a two game losing streak in their first contest against a nationally ranked opponent this season. The Gators are have lost three of their last four road games and have just a 2-4 road record on the season so far.

The Wildcats own the all-time season series against the Gators 25-22 and have won four of the last five meetings against UF in Memorial Coliseum. This will could be a tight contest because in each of their last eight match-ups, the game has been decided by 10 points or less. This does not bode well for the Gators because they have been just 2-5 in games decided by 10 points or fewer this season.

The Gators may also be without guard Carlie Needles for a second consecutive game as she recovers from the concussion she suffered against Ole Miss last Thursday. Guard Antoinette Bannister is also recovering from the MCL knee sprain she suffered against Ole Miss and will most likely be unavailable for tonight’s game.

The key to this game for the Gators will be their defense and their ball security. The Wildcats have the third ranked offense in the SEC, averaging 77 points per game behind their leading scorer guard Jennifer O’Neill and rank second among league teams in turnover margin (+7). UF has had major ball security issues as of late and cannot afford to continue turning the ball over in this game if they want to upset Kentucky.

You can hear the game live on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 6:45 pm.

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UF Men’s Basketball welcomes Auburn in search of third straight win

By on January 15th, 2015

The Florida men’s basketball team will be looking for its third straight win on Thursday night when they welcome Bruce Pearl and the Auburn Tigers.

The Tigers lead the overall series 87-75 but have had little success as of late. Under head coach Billy Donovan, the Gators are 20-4 in this series, having won 17 of the last 18 and the last seven in a row.

The Gators (9-6, 2-0) are coming into this match up fresh off a dominant victory over the Mississippi Bulldogs where the team never trailed. Despite missing big man Jon Horford the last two games, the Gators have been able to succeed thanks to redshirt juniors Eli Carter and Dorian Finney-Smith who have simply carried the team. Finney-Smith has led the team in scoring in two of their last three games and Donovan says his unselfishness has been instrumental for the team.

“He performs and plays better when he’s challenged. One thing I really respect about him is he’s really about as ultimate of a team guy as I’ve coached. He’s way more concerned about the team than himself.”

The one Gator that fans will be looking to see a resurgence from is junior shooting guard Michael Frazier II. Despite coming off the bench and putting up 17 against South Carolina just one week ago, Frazier contracted an upper respiratory infection and missed a few practices late last week. Because of his illness, the Gators sharpshooter came off the bench for the second game in a row, but struggled mightily against the Bulldogs on Saturday finishing with just six points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field. Against a more superior team in the Auburn Tigers, the hope is that the Gators will see the Frazier of old, and Donovan mentioned just what his junior has been going through with his illness.

“We didn’t practice yesterday, he was feeling better and the doctor put him on antibiotic. He really couldn’t even talk very much on Saturday and it was clear he wasn’t himself. I thought he looked physically and emotionally drained from being ill.”

The Tigers (9-6, 1-1) will be coming into this game fresh off a six point victory over the Missouri Tigers which gave Bruce Pearl’s squad its first win inside the SEC this season. Pearl’s first year with the Tigers didn’t exactly start the way he wanted with the team losing five of their first eight games. However, the Tigers have been able to turn their season around winning six of their last seven and Donovan boasted earlier this week about the kind of coach Pearl is and what he does well.

“I think the one thing Bruce has really done a good job of is promoting basketball. I think everybody is different in how they deal with those kind of things and I think for people who are looking for excitement and enthusiasm, he’s the guy that brings a lot of excitement and enthusiasm.”

The Tigers are led by a trio of upperclassmen all averaging over 13 points per game. Senior guard KT Harrell leads the bunch averaging 17 points per game, shooting just under 47 percent from the field. Fellow senior Antoine Mason is averaging just under 15 points per game and junior Cinmeon Bowers is averaging just under 14 points per game this season. The Tigers are shooting just 41.9 percent on the year but Donovan notes they are a very talented bunch and there are a couple of things his team must be aware of.

“I think Bruce’s teams have always been comfortable with having very long possessions. So missed shots, and made baskets you have to get back, you have to balance the floor because every team is going to be looking to attack and push the ball in transition.”

The Gators will be looking to keep the momentum on their side as conference play continues to heat up. Florida will have its chance to improve to 3-0 in the conference, which would put them in a tie with the Kentucky Wildcats at the top of the league standings.  Redshirt junior Alex Murphy says the team will be looking to jump on the Tigers early.

“We want to play fast, we want to press, get more points off of turnovers, and I think we can get better. I think we can capitalize more and we’ve got some stuff in the press, the 1-3-1 and that’s really been a point of emphasis.”

Tipoff between the Gators and Tigers is set for 7pm.  Hear the game live on Country 103-7 The Gator starting at 6:25 pm.

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

Billy Donovan talks Dorian Finney-Smith

Billy Donovan talks Bruce Pearl

Billy Donovan talks Auburn and what his team must be aware of

Alex Murphy talks Auburn and the team’s preparation


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Randy Shannon’s Road to Florida

By on January 15th, 2015

If there is something that Randy Shannon knows, it’s the defensive side of the ball. The former University of Miami player, defensive coordinator and coach at the school is now the associate head coach/co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at the University of Florida.

New Florida head man Jim McElwain hired Shannon from the University of Arkansas, where he served as the linebackers coach for the Razorbacks the past two seasons. Shannon is excited to get to work with the new staff that McElwain has brought into UF.

“It’s good to work with coach Mac and be a part of this program,” Shannon said. “The coaching staff, some guys that I’ve known for a while they’re great. We all have the same kind of mentality and we just want to be a part of something that is special.”

Shannon’s accomplishments on defense go back to his days as the defensive coordinator at Miami. In his first season coordinating the defense in 2001, the Hurricanes won the national championship behind a defense that had players the likes of Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma, and others who would go on to have success on the NFL level.

Shannon’s success on the defensive side of the ball would eventually lead him to become the head coach at his alma mater in 2007. Shannon wouldn’t find the same success as a head coach as he did as a defensive coordinator, as he was fired after four seasons at the helm of the program. Shannon, however, isn’t dwelling too much on his past.

“The past is the past, I can’t change it,” Shannon said. “A lot of great things I did as a player, as a coach, but right now my focus is on trying to get things done at the University of Florida.”

Shannon was also brought in to help recruiting efforts for the Gators. He had success bringing in top classes while at Miami and recruiting South Florida. Even though Shannon has a reputation as a top flight recruiter in South Florida, he wants people to know that he can recruit around the country.

“People label me as a South Florida guy, but people keep forgetting that I recruited a lot of guys from California while I was at the University of Miami,” Shannon said. “A lot of guys from Louisiana, a lot of guys from New York, so I’ve been more versatile than recruiting South Florida.”

While Shannon inherits a team that consistently ranked at the top in most defensive categories during former coach Will Muschamp’s tenure, Shannon knows that he has to make sure the players understand what he wants to do.

Coaching defensive football is something Shannon is known for; he has a great pedigree and a great history of coaching defense and he wants to continue that success now at Florida while having the opportunity to work with a new staff. From being at Miami, Shannon knows what kind of program Florida has in football and overall athletically.  

“There are a lot of programs in the country, but there’s only a few programs in the country like Florida.” 

For audio on Randy Shannon click below:

Shannon 1

Shannon 7

Shannon 8

Shannon 9

Shannon 12







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Thursday Sports Update (1/15)

By on January 15th, 2015

Gator news, college football, college hoops, NBA, NFL and more in our Thursday Sports Update…

** Both Florida basketball teams are in action tonight.   The Gator men host Auburn while the women visit nationally ranked Kentucky.

** In SEC men’s hoops last night, LSU wins at Ole Miss 75-71 and Georgia wins at Vanderbilt 70-67.

** Lots of activity as eligible college football underclassmen have until today to declare for the NFL Draft.   FSU defensive lineman Eddie Golman and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota are going to the NFL while Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott will return to school.

** Coaching changes in the SEC.   Alabama loses Lance Carter to Auburn and Kevin Steele to LSU where he will be the defensive coordinator.   LSU also hires Ed Orgeron to coach the defensive linemen.

** In the NFL, former Gator Chan Gailey will reportedly be hired to be the offensive coordinator for the New York Jets under new coach Todd Bowles.

** More head coaches are named in the NFL; Jack Del Rio will be hired by Oakland and the San Francisco 49ers promote defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.   Chicago and Atlanta are still looking for coaches.

** In the NBA, Orlando surprises Houston 120-113 while Miami loses at Golden State.  Both Orlando and Miami are off today.

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Meet the New Coaches: Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier

By on January 15th, 2015
The Florida football coaching staff has changed dramatically in the last couple of weeks. One of the most important new faces is the new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Let’s take a look at Nussmeier’s journey to becoming a Gator.
To start with, Nussmeier had an impressive college career at the University of Idaho, leading the team as a quarterback to 35 wins over four seasons. In 1993 he was presented the Walter Payton Award for being the Division 1-AA player of the year. After spending a few years in the NFL/CFL, he took a coaching position in 2003 at Michigan State as an offensive assistant alongside Jim McElwain. From then on, it would appear that he and McElwain followed very similar career paths.
After leaving Michigan State, Nussmeier moved on to the NFL, becoming the quarterbacks coach of the St. Louis Rams for two seasons. He would then return to coaching college ball replacing Jim McElwain twice as the offensive coordinator at both Fresno State and then Alabama, where he helped lead the team to their second national championship in a row in 2012.
Finally the dynamic duo are back at it, working together to reshape Florida’s football program. Both McElwain and Nussmeier realize they have a long way to go, but are prepared for the challenge. In one of his first press conferences as Florida’s OC, Nussmeier said the first job is to get to know the players.
“The biggest thing right now is getting to know the kids. I think that’s important that we take time before we start talking about system, before we start taking about what plays and who’s going to play where. It’s getting to know them as people.”
One thing that Nussmeier is looking to accomplish during his time here is building Florida’s quarterbacks and bringing in a new one with every recruiting class. With so much experience being a quarterback coach, this is his specialty, and he enjoys working with young quarterbacks especially.
“Anytime you have young quarterbacks it’s difficult because it takes time and everybody wants instant results. But the good thing is you get to build them from phase one.”
The question is, will the Gator offense improve in the 2015 season? Coach Jim McElwain says he has faith and that Doug Nussmeier’s track record has proven what great work he can do.
To listen to Nussmeier’s audio clips, click below.
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