December 08, 2016

Jordan Cronkrite transferring from UF

Sophomore running back Jordan Cronkrite will not be playing for the University of Florida next season.

The Miami native and former standout at Westminster Christian receive a release from his scholarship and will transfer from UF, the school announced on its website Thursday morning.

"We wish Jordan nothing but the best and will do everything we can to support and assist him and help him get what he wants,'' second-year UF head coach Jim McElwain said in a release.

Before the season, Cronkrite looked to have a valued role a four-person Florida’s backfield.

But an injury in the last week of training camp and the emergence of sophomore Jordan Scarlett and true freshman Lamical Perine limited his touches. Cronkrite finished the season with just 145 yards on 31 carries with a touchdown and 20 catches for another 120 yards and a score.

However, in the last five games, the former four-star recruit has been virtually a non-factor in Florida’s plans.

He’s carried the ball just five times for 33 yards and has eight catches for 38 yards

He didn’t travel with the team to Jacksonville for UF’s game against Georgia.

“He’s right now kind of trying to figure out whether he wants to play or not,” McElwain said after the game, a 24-10 win. “Our door’s always open for him until he finds his way in what he wants to do we’re here to support him.”

Cronkrite’s transfer destination is unknown at this point. Should he transfer to another Football Bowl Subdivision school, Cronkrite will have to sit out next season as part of the NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility remaining after that point.

December 06, 2016

No. 21 Gators hoops falls to No. 5 Duke, 84-74, in Madison Square Garden

UF forward Justin Leon took the pass from Kasey Hill and swished a three-pointer just in front of his bench before Mike White called a timeout.

With 2:28 left to play and the No. 21 Gators trailing fifth-ranked Duke by just seven points, White gave his team one last bit of advice as Florida tried to spark a late comeback in Madison Square Garden.

It didn’t happen.

On the next possession, Blue Devils freshman Jayson Tatum stole the ball from a driving KeVaughn Allen and passed it to Luke Kennard, who drive the length of the court for an easy layup. Duke went on to outscore Florida 6-4 down the stretch to take a 84-74 win on Tuesday.

“They’re very good,” White said in a halftime interview with ESPN. “We’re not as good.”

The stats showed as much.

Duke (9-1) shot 53.3 percent from the field and had three players score at least 20 points in the win, with Kennard leading the way with 29 on an efficient 11-of-16 shooting clip. Amile Jefferson had a double-double for the Blue Devils, dropping 24 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds.

Allen led Florida (7-2) with 21 points and went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. As a whole, Florida made 43.3 percent of its baskets.

The teams spent the first 15 minutes trading baskets and the lead. Then, with 4:35 left in the first half, Jefferson laid down a dunk off a pass from Kennard to give the Blue Devils a 29-28 advantage.

Duke then went on a 14-4 run to close out the half with a 41-31 lead. Duke’s lead was never less than six from that point on.

With the loss, White now drops to 1-7 against ranked teams during his time at UF -- including an 0-2 record this season.

Florida travels to Tallahassee on Sunday to play Florida State. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.

Jalen Tabor is first-team All-SEC; 5 Gators land on second team

The Florida Gators had six players land on the coaches All-Southeastern Conference teams, released by the conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Headlining the group is junior cornerback Jalen Tabor, the lone UF representative on the All-SEC first team.

Tabor finished the year with 32 tackles, a team-high four interceptions (one returned for touchdown) and a team-high-tying nine defended passes. This is Tabor's second first-team All-SEC recognition.

The Gators also had five players with second-team recognition. They are defensive lineman Caleb Brantley, linebacker Jarrad Davis, punter Johnny Townsend, offensive lineman Martez Ivey and cornerback Quincy Wilson.

Brantley was a force on the interior of the defensive line. The redshirt junior posted a team-high-tying 8.5 tackles for loss in addition to 28 total tackles. His highlight play on the year was a forced fumble on the goal line during UF's 16-10 win against LSU that clinched the Gators' SEC East title. 

Davis missed three games with an ankle injury but still finished the year second on the team with 60 total tackles.

Townsend finished the year leading the nation in average yards per punt (48.05) and had a long of 62 yards. Of his 60 punts this year, 28 went at least 50 yards, 25 pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line and just six resulted in touchbacks. Alabama's J.K. Scott (47.72 per punt on 46 attempts, long of 66, 23 of at least 50 yards and 23 inside the 20) took first-team conference honors at the position.

Ivey started 12 games on the offensive line for Florida at left guard. However, he played the bulk of UF's 20-7 win against South Carolina at left tackle following an injury to starter David Sharpe.

Wilson, who started opposite Tabor at cornerback, had three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and tied Tabor with a team-best nine defended passes.

The SEC individual award winners will be announced Wednesday and the All-Freshman Team will be revealed Thursday.

For the full list of coaches All-SEC honorees, click here

December 02, 2016

Tebow: 'A lot has to go right' for Gators to win SEC Championship

Even Tim Tebow has reservations about a potential Florida upset this weekend.

The No. 15 Gators enter Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship Game as 24-point underdogs to No. 1 Alabama, according to Bovada.

Tebow, the last UF quarterback to defeat Alabama in a conference championship game, thinks it will be tough for Florida to overcome the odds.

"I think a lot has to go right, to be honest with you," Tebow told a group of reporters on Friday. "I think they have to get a few turnovers. I don't think they can turn the ball over. I think they'll have to get a defense or a special teams touchdown and find a way to get, you know, 13 to 17 points offensively. I think that would be really hard, so I think it's going to be tough, but, shoot, that's why they play the game."

He's not the only one who feels that way.

To former LSU defensive lineman Marcus Spears, the key to defeating Alabama is explosive plays,something the Gators have struggled with the season. Florida is tied for the fifth-worst in the country with 17 plays from scrimmage longer than 30 yards. Alabama's defense has given up just 19 such plays, tied for the 19th-best mark in the nation.

"Bama’s a better football team than Florida. News flash. But in this game, a few plays can change the game. Usually when you look at things at the end whether a team was perceivably way better or you had an opponent that was head and shoulders above based on a whole season in a totality. But when you get to the point of turnovers, and when you get plays on special teams – things like that. Those are the hidden things in a football game that can change the face of the entire game."

Former UF wide receiver Chris Doering, who competed in four straight SEC title games from 1992-1995, agrees with Spears.

"I certainly don't believe you're going to be able to sustain a drive against this Alabama defense, so if you're going to score, it's going to come from explosive plays," Doering said. "If you look back at the games [Florida] lost ... there were plays to be made. You have to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves."

 

December 01, 2016

No. 24 Gators hoops routs North Florida

The Florida Gators entered Thursday's game against North Florida ranked in the AP top 25 for the first time in nearly two years and the first time under coach Mike White.

The No. 24 Gators left Jacksonville with a 91-60 win over the Ospreys that came as a result of one of the team's best offensive performances in White's tenure.

Florida (7-1) posted a season-best 58.5-percent shooting efficiency from the field and made a season-high nine three-pointers. Eleven UF players put up points in the win, with seven scoring at least seven points.

Junior point guard Chris Chiozza paced Florida with a season-high 16 points off the bench and dished out a career-high-tying nine assists. Justin Leon (13), Canyon Barry (12) and Devin Robinson (10) also had double-digit points.

The Gators jumped out to a 45-25 lead at halftime before the Ospreys attempted a minor comeback.

A three-point play from North Florida's Romelo Banks with 16:09 left in the game cut Florida's lead to 12 points. However, the Gators responded with a 24-6 run to take a 72-42 lead before going on cruise control with about eight-and-a-half minutes in regulation. 

Senior guard Dallas Moore led the Ospreys with a game-high 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including a 6-of-12 clip from beyond the arc. Outside of Moore, UNF shot a collective 25 percent from the field (8-for-32) and went 0-for-10 from three-point range. Florida forced North Florida into committing 20 turnovers, which resulted in 38 UF points. 

Florida doesn't play again until Tuesday when it faces No. 5 Duke in New York as part of the Jimmy V Classic. Tipoff from Madison Square Garden is set for 9 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.

The Gators have three more games away from Gainesville before their Dec. 21 home opener against Little Rock, which will be the debut of the $64.5 million renovation of the O'Connell Center.

November 30, 2016

Injury Update: Jarrad Davis is back, but the list keeps growing

With the rash of injuries the Gators have experienced over the past month, they received a bit of good news on Wednesday.

UF coach Jim McElwain said senior linebacker Jarrad Davis practiced this week and could play a limited role when No. 15 Florida faces top-ranked Alabama in Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

Davis, who McElwain has repeatedly referred to as the "heart and soul" of the team, has missed Florida's last three games with an ankle injury. Even with that, he is still second on the team in total tackles (56) heading into the conference title game in Atlanta.   

But outside of Davis, the injury report continues to look bleak.

In addition to the injury report McElwain provided Monday -- a list that was a dozen players long -- two starting offensive players were added to the list Wednesday.

First is tight end C'yontai Lewis, a 6-4 redshirt sophomore who has 16 catches, 174 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games (he was suspended for the season opener). He's "iffy" with a low-ankle injury, McElwain said.

The second is sophomore offensive lineman Fred Johnson, who started Florida's last two games at right guard as the Gators' o-line has dealt with a bevy of injuries as of late. He was injured after crashing his scooter. He's questionable.

"No matter what you're future lies and whatever that is, if you can give the team one play, whatever that play might be, that's what it's all about," McElwain said. "We've got some guys that are trying everything they can to get out there. Having JD out at practice today was really good."

UF coach Jim McElwain dispels Oregon rumors

Over the past two days, Florida coach Jim McElwain had been linked to the vacant head coaching position at the University of Oregon. 

McElwain quickly put those rumors to rest on Wednesday.

Speaking at his usual post-practice press conference, the second-year UF head coach said he has not been in contact with Oregon about their head coaching position.

"You know it's always interesting this time of year and how whatever comes out," McElwain said. "No, I haven't heard from Oregon and, you know, the things that get thrown out there at times, I don't know how it gets linked sometimes. And I guess slow news day."

When asked if that means he has no interest in the opening, he responded "Yeah."

"Look, I’ve got a heck of a job," McElwain said. "In case anybody checked this is the University of Florida. We’re playing in what they call the SEC Championship game. It really hasn’t crossed my mind.”

On Tuesday, USA Today's Dan Wolken reported that there were "whispers" that McElwain could be a person of interest for the job, which became available after Oregon fired head coach Mark Helfrich after a 4-8 season.

"Despite winning SEC East titles in his first two years," Wolken wrote, "McElwain has been a bit under-appreciated by the Florida fan base and just got a new athletics director in Gainesville."

McElwain said the rumors caused the staff to hit it in high gear to tell recruits the rumors were false. McElwain also said he, along with a group of his assistants, will be out recruiting Wednesday night prior to traveling to Atlanta for Saturday's SEC Championship game against top-ranked Alabama.

"We got that taken care of," McElwain said. "A lot of time on the phone last night obviously. ... You know, it's part of what you deal with."

A look back at the past Florida-Alabama SEC Championship games

Saturday's game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 15 Florida in Atlanta's Georgia Dome will mark the 25th Southeastern Conference Championship Game. The Gators and Crimson Tide will be meeting up for the league-high ninth matchup in the title game, with the series even at 4-4 when the conference title is on the line.

"Historically they've been the best team in the West, and historically we've been the best team in the East," UF cornerback Jalen Tabor said on a teleconference call Monday. "When you think of SEC Championship, you think of Alabama versus Florida, and I feel like that's the way, and that's the way it's supposed to be, and that's the way it is again this year."

And with this year's game fast approaching, let's take a look back at the past eight UF-Bama SEC Championship matchups.

 

1992: Alabama 28, Florida 21

UF needed to win its final five SEC games in 1992 to land  in the inaugural conference championship game in Birmingham, Alabama. After falling into a 21-7 deficit early in the third quarter, the Gators tied the game with a pair of touchdowns — a 4-yard touchdown pass from Shane Matthews to Willie Jackson in the third quarter and a 21-yard run by Errict Rhett with about eight minutes left in regulation. Despite Florida’s late push, Alabama sealed the game on an Antonio Langham pick-six with 3:16 to play. The Crimson Tide would go on to win the national title with a 34-13 win against Miami in the Sugar Bowl.

 

1993: Florida 28, Alabama 13

Call it deja vu. The Gators and Crimson Tide found themselves against each yet again in the SEC Championship. This time, though, Florida turned the tables with their punter providing the edge. Holding onto a 14-13 lead in the third quarter and facing a fourth and 8, punter Shayne Edge took the snap and ran 20 yards to move the chains. On the next play, quarterback Terry Dean hit Jack Jackson for a 43-yard touchdown to give UF a 21-13 lead. The Gators held on to win.

 

1994: Florida 24, Alabama 23

The first SEC Championship game to be played in the Georgia Dome turned out to be one of the most contested in the championship game’s history. It also showcased Steve Spurrier’s prowess. With the Gators down by six in the fourth quarter and quarterback Danny Wuerffel limping to the sideline, backup signal caller Eric Kresser fired a dart to Aubry Hill for 25 yards. Wuerffel then returned to the game. Two plays later, a double pass moved the Gators to the 2-yard line, setting up a Wuerffel-to-Chris-Doering shot for the game-winner.

 

1996: Florida 45, Alabama 30

Fresh off a three-point loss to Florida State, Florida played Alabama with a vengeance. Danny Wuerffel threw for an SEC-record 401 yards and six touchdown passes to lead the Gators to their fourth consecutive SEC title. The win gave the Gators a second date with FSU, this time with a national title on the line. Florida won the rematch with the Seminoles 52-20 to claim the program’s first national title.

 

1999: Alabama 34, Florida 7

The Gators, who lost to the Crimson Tide two months earlier in a 40-39 overtime thriller, looked to rebound and defeat Alabama on the second time around. Instead, Alabama rolled. Florida drew first blood on a trick play when tailback Earnest Graham threw a 3-yard touchdown to tight end Erron Kinney. Alabama controlled the game from there. The Crimson Tide defense forced four interceptions and the offense racked up 462 yards to hand UF its most lopsided loss to Alabama in an SEC Championship game.

 

2008: Florida 31, Alabama 20

Down 20-17 as the third quarter drew to a close, the Gators scored back-to-back touchdowns on a 1-yard Jeff Demps rushing touchdown and a 5-yard pass from Tim Tebow to Riley Cooper to take a 31-20 lead with 2:50 remaining in the game. Cornerback Joe Haden sealed Florida’s victory with an interception along the right sideline with about 90 seconds to play. The Gators went on to the BCS Championship game, where they defeated Oklahoma 24-14 for the third national title in program history.

 

2009: Alabama 32, Florida 13

Eventual Heisman Trophy winner and first-team All-American Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards and scored three of Alabama’s four touchdowns. Quarterback Greg McElroy also threw for 239 yards and a touchdown on just 12 completions en route to MVP honors. The Gators put up a fight early, trailing just 19-13 at halftime, but Alabama’s defense shut Tebow and Co. down in the final 30 minutes.

 

2015: Alabama 29, Florida 15

Alabama dominated in every facet of the game. On offense, Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry rushed for 189 yards and a touchdown, becoming the SEC's all-time single-season rushing yards leader in the process. Quarterback Jake Coker threw a pair of touchdown passes. On defense, the Crimson Tide sacked UF's Treon Harris six times and held the Gators to an 0-for-11 third-down conversion clip. On special teams, Alabama blocked both a UF field goal and a punt, the latter of which resulted in a safety. Florida's two touchdowns came on an Antonio Callaway punt return in the second quarter and a last-second desperation heave from Harris that found C.J. Worton in the end zone for a 46-yard grab.

November 29, 2016

A look at Florida's bowl possibilities

Despite losing 31-13 to Florida State on Saturday, the Florida Gators held firm at No. 15 in the latest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, released on Tuesday.

UF is the third-highest ranked team in the Southeastern Conference heading into Saturday's SEC Championship Game against undefeated Alabama, trailing No. 14 Auburn and the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

So what does this mean for UF's bowl outlook? Let's take a look.

With the three-loss Gators all but eliminated from contention for the four-team College Football Playoff, Florida's top bowl prospect is the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, a New Year's Six bowl slated to kick off at 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 2. Normally, the Sugar Bowl is a matchup between the SEC champion and Big 12 champion. However, if the conference champion should make the CFP, the conference's second-highest ranked team in the final CFP poll will represent its conference in the Sugar Bowl.

This means the Gators can get into the Sugar Bowl in one of two routes.

The first would be simply beating Alabama, a team that enters the SEC title game on a 24-game win streak and is a 24-point favorite in Saturday's matchup. 

Should the Gators lose to Alabama, that brings us to the second option: The Gators would need to play well enough against the Crimson Tide that the committee jumps Florida over Auburn in the final rankings. This would make the Gators the second-highest ranked SEC school and would fill in for Alabama in the Sugar Bowl while the Crimson Tide chase a second straight national title and fifth in eight years.

If neither of those scenarios play out, UF will be eligible for one of the other nine bowl games with tie-ins to the SEC.

The Citrus Bowl in Orlando -- which the Gators played in last year and lost 41-7 to Michigan -- gets first crack of the group. While there is no rule barring the bowl from selecting UF for a second straight appearance, it might opt for another school (likely LSU or Tennessee) for the Dec. 31 matchup.

From there, the conference, with consultation from both the bowls and the member institutions, assigns teams to a pool of six bowl games. Those games, in no particular order, are:

1.) The Outback Bowl in Tampa (SEC vs. Big Ten) on Jan. 2

2.) The TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville (SEC vs. Big Ten/ACC) on Dec. 31

3.) The Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee (SEC vs. ACC/Big Ten) on Dec. 30

4.) The Texas Bowl in Houston (SEC vs. Big 12) on Dec. 28

5.) The Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina (SEC vs. ACC) on Dec. 29

6.) The Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee (SEC vs. Big 12) on Dec. 30

While UF is almost guaranteed to be selected in the SEC pool of six bowl games, the final two bowls with SEC tie-ins are the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29 and the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

For a full breakdown of how the SEC bowl scenarios can play out, here's an easy-to-follow chart from the SEC's Chuck Dunlap.

November 28, 2016

Florida injury report keeps growing

The injuries are still piling up.

With the 15th-ranked Gators getting ready to play top-ranked and undefeated Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Championshp Game, UF coach Jim McElwain has ruled eight players as out or "probably out." The list includes:

  • Defensive lineman Jordan Sherit (knee), who will have surgery this week
  • Safety Nick Washington (high ankle)
  • Safety Marcus Maye (arm)
  • Linebacker Alex Anzalone (arm)
  • Linebacker Jarrad Davis (ankle)
  • Defensive lineman Bryan Cox (leg)
  • Center Cam Dillard (ankle)
  • Defensive back Jeawon Taylor

In addition to those eight, offensive lineman Martez Ivey, wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood, nickel corner Duke Dawson, and linebacker Daniel McMillian are going to be either limited in practice or day-to-day this week.

Heading into Saturday, the Gators have just six of their regular starters on defense healthy to play against Alabama: Cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson, defensive linemen Joey Ivie, CeCe Jefferson and Caleb Brantley, and safety Marcell Harris.

November 26, 2016

Gators hoops falls to No. 11 Gonzaga, faces Miami on Sunday

Florida’s defense held Gonzaga at bay for about 30 minutes on Friday.

Then, it broke.

With the game tied 57-57, a Silas Melson three-point basket gave the No. 11 Bulldogs their first lead of the game with 8:46 to play. They held on from there to defeat Florida 77-72 on Friday in the semifinals of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.

Gonzaga (5-0) made 51.7 percent of its shots from the field overall, including a 60.7-percent shooting efficiency in the second half. Guard Josh Perkins led Gonzaga with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Forward Johnathan Williams (16 points), guard Nigel Williams-Goss (14 points) and Melson (12 points) also finished the game with double-digit points.

UF (4-1), meanwhile, slumped to the finish, missing 11 of its final 14 shots.

For the game, Florida made just 36.9 percent of its shots from the field, and was just 2-for-19 from three-point range. It’s just the second time this year UF made less than 40 percent of its field-goal attempts.

One bright spot for UF: Florida went 19-for-21 from the free-throw line, a 91.7 percent efficiency. For games where UF attempted at least 15 free throws, it’s the highest single-game free-throw efficiency for the Gators since Feb. 4, 2012, when the team made 16 of 17 attempts from the charity stripe against Vanderbilt (.941).

The Gators led 37-32 at halftime mostly in part to the play of junior Devin Robinson. The 6-8 forward scored UF’s first nine points and had 13 overall in the half, going 5 for 9 from the field and making all three of his free throws.

Robinson finished the game with a game-high-tying 18 points, one of four UF players in double-digit scoring. Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen scored 15 points, while center John Egbunu and guard Canyon Barry each chipped in 12. Senior point guard Kasey Hill also had eight points and added seven assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals.

With the loss, Florida will play Miami in the third-place game of the invitational on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m.

Gonzaga will face No. 21 Iowa State in the championship.

November 24, 2016

Clutch shooting down the stretch lifts Gators hoops over Seton Hall in Advocare Invitational

In a game with eight ties and a dozen lead changes, the Florida Gators found a way once again to end up on top.

Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen scored 21 points, graduate transfer Canyon Barry added 20 of his own off the bench and the Gators closed out their opening round of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando by making six of their final eight free throws to defeat Seton Hall 81-76 on Thursday. 

Streaky shooting plagued Florida (5-0) throughout the game, but the Gators made shots down the stretch when it mattered.

With UF holding onto a 58-57 lead with a little more than eight minutes left in the game, Allen stepped back and attempted a fadeaway jumper. As the shot bounced off the backboard, Justin Leon corralled the ball and fired it up for a quick putback as he was fouled.

UF went on to make seven of its final eight baskets to end the game with a 44.8-percent shooting efficiency (54.5 percent in the second half) put the game out of reach despite a relentless attack from Seton Hall. Neither team led by more than eight points in the game.

Foul trouble hindered Florida early. A trio of UF frontcourt players -- Devin Robinson, John Egbunu and Kevarrius Hayes -- had two fouls each by halftime.

By the end of the game, Robinson (5 points, three rebounds) and both of UF’s point guards -- Kasey Hill (6 points, two assists, five turnovers) and Chris Chiozza (14 points, two assists) -- fouled out of the game.

The Pirates (3-1) led 40-39 at halftime and had as much as a six-point advantage (45-39) early in the second half after UF went scoreless in its first six second-half possessions (0-2 from the field, four turnovers) before Florida began to find its stride. Junior guard Khadeen Carrington led the Pirates with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting before fouling out with 20 seconds left in the game.

With the win, Florida advances to Friday’s semifinal game in the invitational against No. 11 Gonzaga, which defeated Quinnipiac 82-62 earlier in the day Thursday. This will be UF’s first game this season against a ranked opponent.

Tipoff between the Gators and the Bulldogs is set for 9:30 p.m.

November 21, 2016

Gators hoops improves to 4-0 with win over Belmont

Canyon Barry scored 17 points off the bench, three other Florida players scored in double digits and Gators men’s basketball team improved to 4-0 on the year after defeating Belmont 78-61 in Tampa on Monday.

Florida led the entire game, but Belmont (1-2) made it interesting early in the second half when a Taylor Barnette three-pointer cut the Gators' lead to 43-34 with 16:56 to play. Florida went off from there, though, rattling off 16 straight points in about four minutes to push their lead to a game-high 25 points and put the game out of reach.

UF shot 45.8 percent from the field but struggled from beyond the arc, missing its first nine three-point shots. UF finished the game making five of 21 three-pointers. Florida also managed to make 19 of its 24 free throws (79.6 percent).

Florida led 38-26 at halftime after opening the game on a 15-0 run that was fueled by six turnovers that led to 10 points.

Forward Evan Bradds led Belmont with 17 points.

UF’s next game is Thursday against Seton Hall in Orlando, the first of three straight games the Gators will play as part of the Advocare Invitational. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. UF has the potential to face No. 11 Gonzaga and No. 21 Iowa State on Friday and Saturday, respectively, depending on how the tournament plays out.

November 17, 2016

Gators hoops slips past St. Bonaventure, improves to 3-0 on young season

The Florida Gators men's basketball team almost saw a double-digit lead fade away, but a last-minute run kept the Gators undefeated with a 73-66 win over St. Bonaventure on Thursday in Lakeland.

Sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen and graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry led the Gators (3-0) with 16 points each, while junior forward Devin Robinson chipped in 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting clip.

After a back-and-forth first half that saw Florida lead 38-32 at intermission, the Gators found their offensive stroke in early in the second half, opening on a 9-2 run. UF would go on to make half its second-half shots and end the game making 41.1 percent of its shots overall, including a 47.1-percent clip from three-point range (8-for-17).

But after taking a 60-45 lead with 11:29 left to play, Florida saw its second-half lead over St. Bonaventure slip away almost as quickly as it was gained.

The Bonnies (1-1) went on a 21-6 run to tie the game at 66-66 with 1:37 left to play. Guards Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams fueled the run, scoring 19 of the 21 points on the run. Mobley led all scorers in the game with 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting (6-for-12 from three-point range). Adams was close behind with 20 points.

But a pair of dunks from John Egbunu and Robinson along with three free throws from Barry in the final 53 seconds along with a suffocating defense can Florida just enough to leave with the win. St. Bonaventure's final five possessions consisted of three missed shots and a pair of turnovers. Overall, the Gators held the Bonnies to a 38.1 percent shooting clip from the field and won the rebounding battle 41-36.

Florida's next game is Monday against Belmont in Tampa.

Pineiro could face two counts of misdemeanor for reportedly damaging scooters on campus

UF kicker and former Miami Sunset Senior High soccer standout Eddy Pineiro could face a pair of misdemeanor charges after police said he damaged two scooters while on campus earlier this month.

According to a UF Police Department sworn complaint, Pineiro was walking toward a scooter parking lot on campus on Nov. 7 at about 2 p.m. and pushed over a pair of scooters that were next to his.

“Pineiro damaged two scooters by kicking them and then ripping off the side mirrors," according to the complaint, which was filed to the Alachua County Clerk of Courts on Wednesday. “Pineiro then got on his scooter and drove away.”

The total cost of the damage was about $800, according to the complaint.

Graham Hall of the Gainesville Sun was the first to report.

Pineiro's status has not changed for Saturday's road game between No. 21 Florida and No. 16 LSU.

"We have been aware and it has been handled," the University Athletic Association said in a statement. 

UF coach Jim McElwain on Wednesday said that Pineiro has been at practice.

“I’m telling you, he kicked the heck out of it [Wednesday],” McElwain said. “Made it rain a couple of times. Did good.”

A junior college transfer from ASA College in Miami, Pineiro is in his first year at UF. The redshirt sophomore has made 13 of his 17 field-goal attempts, including three from at least 50 yards. On kickoffs, 35 of his 47 attempts have resulted in touchbacks.

 

November 13, 2016

Florida men's basketball moves to 2-0 with win over Mercer

A late first-half run, a solid performance at the free-throw line and a stifling defensive performance pushed the Florida men’s basketball team to a 76-54 win over Mercer on Sunday night at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.

Senior Justin Leon led Florida (2-0) with 17 points and was one of three UF players to score in double figures. Junior Devin Robinson (12 points, nine rebounds) was one rebound away from posting the team's first double-double of the season. All 12 UF players who saw time on the floor scored at least one point.

After the Bears cut the Gators’ lead to 18-12 with 5:37 left in the first half, Florida’s offense came to life, ending the frame on an 18-2 run in which the team went five-for-14 from the field -- including a floating layup from Kevarrius Hayes on an inbound pass from KeVaughn Allen as time expired -- and made all six of its free-throw attempts to go into halftime with a comfortable 36-14 advantage. The Gators finished the game making 80 percent of its free-throw attempts (24 of 30) and outrebounded Mercer 47-32 (20-10 on the offensive glass). Florida finished the game shooting 36.1 percent from the field.

Junior guard Ria’n Holland led Mercer (1-1) with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting. No one else scored more than seven points for the Bears, who turned the ball over 17 times and shot 37.3 percent from the field.

Florida’s next game is Thursday against St. Bonaventure in Lakeland. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

November 11, 2016

Florida soccer wins opening round of NCAA Tournament; Men's, women's basketball win season openers

After 65 minutes of missed shots in Florida soccer’s NCAA Tournament opener, UF’s Meggie Dougherty Howard found an opening.

The senior midfielder took a short pass from sophomore Samantha Chung and fired 8 yards across the box, past Florida Gulf Coast goalkeeper Melissa Weck and into the lower left quadrant of the net.

Dougherty Howard’s 66th-minute goal provided a much-needed spark for the No. 1 regional seed Gators in their 3-0 victory against Florida Gulf Coast on Friday at UF’s Donald R. Dizney Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 1,132.

Freshman defender Julia Lester and senior forward Savannah Jordan provided the Gators with insurance goals in the victory.

“Our sport is a strange one,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “I felt like we had a really dominating performance but still you have to put the ball in the back of the net and Gulf Coast had a lot to do with that, why it wasn't in the back of the net. Give credit to them, but I think our ability to stay composed and stay relaxed in spite of not scoring and still doing the things we knew would lead us to that, that was really important."

The Gators (16-4-1), ranked No. 9 in the country, dominated possession for the majority of the match and spent the majority of the game on FGCU’s half of the field. Florida outshot the Eagles 22-2 and had 12 shots on goal but faced stiff competition early from FGCU’s goalkeeper Weck. The freshman ended the match with nine saves, including a pair in the first half that forced her to jump and twist to punch the ball away from the net.

“I think they did a really good job defensively,” said Jordan, the NCAA active leader in goals (81) and points (189). “They gave their 100 percent effort in blocking shots and kind of denying us the first half. I think we stayed patient with that but I do think they did a really good job of holding us defensively.”

But as the second half progressed, Florida broke through FGCU’s defense. After Dougherty Howard gave Florida the lead with about 25 minutes to play, Lester provided an insurance goal in the 78th minute, an unassisted 5-yard shot in the middle of the box. Not even five minutes later, Jordan responded with a 5-yard blast off an assist from midfielder Mayra Pelayo to close out scoring. It was Jordan’s team-high 16th goal of the season. FGCU (14-5-1) attempted just one shot each half.

With the win, the Gators advance to host the second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament face Wisconsin (9-4-8) in the second round on Friday at 7 p.m.

Men’s basketball comes back to defeat Florida Gulf Coast

A late second-half surge, four double-digit scoring performances and a strong showing at the free-throw line lifted the UF men’s basketball team to an 80-59 win over Florida Gulf Coast in its season opener on Friday at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.

The Gators (1-0), trailed 50-49 with 13:23 to play, closed out the game on a 31-9 run that saw Florida shoot 11-for-16 from the field and make all eight of its free throws. Seven players scored during the final surge.

Junior forward Devin Robinson led the Gators with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and six rebounds, two blocks and three steals.

Center John Egbunu (13), guard Canyon Barry (13) and point guard Kasey Hill (11) also had double-digit scoring efforts for Florida, which went 28-of-62 from the field (45.2 percent) and made 76.9 percent of its free throws.

Brandon Goodwin led FGCU (0-1) in scoring with 14 points.

The Gators return to Jacksonville on Sunday to play Mercer.

UF women’s basketball surges in season-opening win

Behind an all-around consistent offense and a suffocating defense, the No. 20 Florida women’s basketball team cruised to an 85-33 season-opening win over South Alabama on Friday at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.

Senior Ronni Williams, junior Haley Lorenzen and sophomore Eleanna Christinaki led scoring with 16 points each. Williams added a game-high 10 rebounds for a season-opening double-double, and Florida collectively shot 53.5 percent from the field.

The Gators (1-0) stifled South Alabama (0-1) all night, limiting the Jaguars to a 19.6 percent shooting clip on the night. Savannah Jones led South Alabama with six points.

After jumping out to a 37-15 halftime lead, Florida stepped on the gas in the third quarter, opening the second half on a 20-0 run over a seven-minute stretch to put the game out of reach.

Florida’s next game is Monday at Chattanooga.

November 10, 2016

NCAA: UF freshman Gak can play this season

DSC_1214

UF freshman forward/center Gorjok Gak during practice on Nov. 3, 2016.

Florida men's basketball freshman Gorjok Gak has been ruled eligible by the NCAA for the season after the school's waiver appeal was approved, UF announced Thursday evening. Gak will have four full years of eligibility and will be available for the Gators' season opener against Florida Gulf Coast in Jacksonville on Friday.

“I’m extremely happy for Gorjok,” second-year UF head coach Mike White said in a release. “Our administration spent a lot of time fighting for him and during that time, despite assuming he wouldn’t be eligible to play this season, Gorjok was a steady contributor at our practices with his work ethic.”

The release added the team was already en route to Jacksonville when White heard Gak's eligibility was restored. The freshman joined the team later.

"I was in my apartment getting ready to go to tutoring when Coach White called me," Gak said according to the school's website, FloridaGators.com. "I couldn't believe it. I called my mom right away and she got very emotional. … So did I." 

In July, the NCAA initially declared the 19-year-old Gak ineligible to compete during his inaugural season due to questions about the number of games he played at Bradenton (Fla.) Victory Rock Prep after arriving there from Australia.

He was allowed to enroll at UF and practice, but his role with the team was limited to that.

An athletic, 6-11 post player, Gak was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals, ESPN and 247sports. Gak averaged 13.8 point and 9.3 rebounds during his senior season at Victory Rock and has a 7-foot-4 wingspan. 

He adds depth to a Florida frontcourt led by veterans John Egbunu, Devin Robinson and Justin Leon. Sophomore Kevarrius Hayes, redshirt freshman Keith Stone and senior Schuyler Rimmer should also see playing time this season.

November 07, 2016

Luke Del Rio out for foreseeable future

Luke Del Rio will not take the field Saturday against South Carolina -- and possibly for the rest of the season.

Coach Jim McElwain announced Monday that the redshirt sophomore quarterback injured his shoulder during Florida's 31-10 loss to Arkansas and will be out of commission for the foreseeable future.

"It's bad, man," McElwain said. "When you can't lift your duffel bag up, chances are something's hurt."

McElwain said Del Rio suffered the injury during the first half of the game and in hindsight should have been taken out of the game at halftime.

"He's a tough guy and never said anything [during the game]," McElwain said. "... It speaks for him."

For the season, Del Rio has thrown for 1,358 yards on a 56.7-percent completion rate and has eight touchdowns to eight interceptions. 

It's Del Rio's second injury this season. The first came late against North Texas on Sept. 17, when Mean Green defensive lineman Joshua Wheeler dove into Del Rio's planted leg, which resulted in a sprained MCL. Del Rio missed the next two games -- a 38-28 loss to Tennessee and a 13-6 win over Vanderbilt. In the three games since his return, Del Rio has thrown just two touchdowns compared to six interceptions.

With Del Rio out yet again, McElwain said this week will be an open competition among graduate transfer Austin Appleby and true freshmen Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks for the starting job.

"We'll find out," McElwain said. 

October 31, 2016

Additional stories and anecdotes about outgoing AD Jeremy Foley

After almost 25 years as Florida’s athletic director, Jeremy Foley’s final day has come. The 63-year-old is stepping down from his post. A full story on Foley can be found here, but there are more memories from those he worked with that didn't make it into the piece. Below is a look at some additional memories from former and current UF athletes, coaches and administration about Foley.

 

Becky Burleigh, UF soccer coach, 1995-present

“He just gave us everything we needed to be successful early. I can particularly remember back in that time frame, we were one of the leading schools by far in terms of the way we were funding programs, the way we were handling even a startup. We had a whole year before we started, which is somewhat commonplace now, but back then that was kind of unheard of. It wasn’t like he was taking a club team and turning it into a varsity program. He really wanted to be successful right from the very start. I’ll always appreciate the faith he had in me and I’ll always appreciate the resources that he provided us and the leadership not even thinking for a minute that we couldn’t be competitive right from the beginning.”

 

Rhonda Faehn, former UF gymnastics coach and current senior vice president at USA Gymnastics

“What first struck me was just his enthusiasm and his passion for the University of Florida and his commitment to just every single student athlete. I felt it. And I was so pumped and so excited that I was ready to step in right there. ‘Anything you want, I’m ready to go.’ After just that 48 hours, I was excited and was offered the job and never regretted one day. It was absolutely an incredible experience working for Jeremy Foley. He was just a class act.”

“There were so many amazing moment, just so many little ones. I remember my first couple of years, he was always giving positive encouragement and support because in the beginning, it wasn’t easy. It was a building process. No matter what, he would be flying out for a flight at like 5 in the morning and he would call to say ‘Hey, I’m sorry I’m not going to be at the meet this weekend. I’m at a meeting.” But yet he was very dedicated to making sure that I felt supported, that the team felt supported and he was at every competition that he could be at right there at that table. After one of the meets, he said ‘When are one of your athletes going to have Aerosmith for floor music?' It was just awesome. You could see that he was passionate and excited. The little things stuck with me more than any one thing. What was incredible was that he never ever failed to tell me how proud he was or how thankful he was for just the dedication of the athletes and the coaching staff. You could tell he was always just appreciative.”

 

Kent Fuchs, UF President

“It's not that Jeremy set the bar. The bar's above Jeremy in terms of what we have to do in fundraising, what we have to do in just making sure we're supporting our students. It's just the bar keep getting up a little higher because we want to be ahead of everyone and not just where we were over the past 25 years."

 

Gabby Mallette, former UF volleyball player, 2012-2015

“I think that Jeremy Foley had a huge part in volleyball. He didn’t just help with the sports that are the major ones on campus -- football, baseball, basketball. There are so many times in my four years that Jeremy would just walk into the Lemerand during our practice just to say hi to Mary and see what we were up to. I think when you’re a part of such a big program, you don’t expect that, especially from Jeremy Foley who is the best athletic director in the country.”

 

Aubree Munro, former UF softball player, 2013-2016

"Jeremy Foley set the bar for Florida Athletics. He stressed the championship experience with integrity, and that’s exactly what I experienced while at UF. My favorite thing about Jeremy Foley is that he always asks how I’m doing. He would remember my name and then ask me how I was doing. He was the AD at a top school and he would always stop and say hello, ask me how things were going and always showed support for me and my team. Softball, while we were successful in my four years, isn’t considered a revenue sport, so I imagine it would be easy for some athletic directors to not take a lot of pride in those sports. Mr. Foley never missed a regional, super regional, or world series appearance. He was there on the field with us to celebrate all of those wins with us. He offered hugs and high fives when we won back to back championships. And now that I’m done playing he still says hi and asks me how I’m doing when our paths cross in the weight room. I came to Florida to win, but what I didn’t realize was that I would become the person I had always wanted to be by coming to this special place. I have Jeremy Foley to thank for that because he brought in the coaches that made our program what it was and he created a culture of success on and off the field. He set the bar of excellence not only at Florida but for athletic departments across the country. And he did it while being personable to his athletes and making them all feel valued."

 

Amanda O’Leary, UF Lacrosse coach, 2010-present

“Without him, we wouldn’t be here. It’s just his commitment to our program from Day 1. When we started, we didn’t have a facility. He was instrumental in the recruiting process and the building of the facility and just keeping it moving forward. I owe him everything. I just owe him everything. He was just really straightforward. He said we're going to build you a facility that's going to be worthy of your student-athletes. He said it's not going to be the Taj Mahal of lacrosse facilities even though it ended up being the Taj Mahal of lacrosse facilities, so he was actually wrong there. He did provide for us and said the support was going to be there financially. And just from Day 1, it's all come to fruition. He has ultimately provided not only our student-athletes but our staff with every possible opportunity to succeed. That's all you really ask for."

 

Scott Stricklin, incoming UF athletics director

“Much of the success that has happened here is credited to great athletes, great coaches, great staff, but certainly there's one person the last quarter century who's driven that boat, and that's Jeremy, my good friend. Jeremy, arguably -- and it may not be much of an argument -- is the best athletic director in the history of the SEC. And I firmly believe that. And there's been some really good ones. But Jeremy has set a standard. Last several years I've gotten to know him as a colleague and then as a friend, and he's always been there with a word of advice. Sometimes it was wanted, sometimes not. But he's been a great confidant. I can't imagine how special it is to walk into an opportunity like this and have a guy like Jeremy available to seek as a resource.”

 

Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at UF, current SEC Network analyst

“I just remember most about Jeremy was just how genuine he is and he’s never someone that was big time. He was never someone who was too busy. He was just someone that was always genuine, that was there for all the students and he was always there for all of us athletes. I really appreciated that about him.”

 

Mary Wise, UF volleyball coach

“It would be hard to put into words because with Gator Nation, he is the rock to it. He’s been such a wonderful mentor as a coach and giving his advice and his take on something when I ask for it. He’s a wonderful fan. He’s a great supporter. And he’s a really, really good friend.”

“I just can’t thank him enough for his tutelage, the leadership he’s provided at the council and leading from the top. There’s a reason why people stay and it all starts with him and the culture he’s created here.”


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