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Gator Report

Antonya English

For Gators SEC championship is nice, but not the focus right now

A day after the Florida Gators earned their sixth SEC Championship under Florida coach Billy Donovan, the Gators said it's something nice to have, but the season - and their ultimate goals - is far from over.

Florida's senior class of Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young, Will Yeguete and Casey Prather is the first in school history to win three SEC championships.

The Gators are the first SEC team to win three outright titles in four years since Kentucky in 1995, 1996 and 1998.

But the Gator players and coach Billy Donovan said they can't focus on that right now because there are still three regular season games and a quest for a national title still ahead of them.

More from Donnovan here:

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Gators still atop south in latest bracket by Jerry Palm

Florida remains projected as the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament South Region in the latest bracket by CBSSports.com's bracket expert Jerry Palm.

Palm has the Gators projected to play the winner of a play-in game between Utah Valley and High Point.

Multiple upsets on Thursday night have forced some changes in the latest bracket.

You can checkout Palm's latest projections here.

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Gators clinch SEC basketball title for second straight season

With Arkansas' 71-67 overtime victory over Kentucky tonight, the No. 1 Florida Gators clinched the outright SEC regular season championship. The Gators clinched a share of the title with a win over Vanderbilt Tuesday night.

It is the first time the Gators have won back-to-back SEC titles in school history and Florida's fifth outtight title.

It is the second time Florida has clinched the outright title in February. The 2006-07 team clinched on Feb. 21.

Florida will be the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament in Atlanta, and will play at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. With a win, the Gators would advance to the semifinals at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Friday's quarterfinal game will be televised on ESPNU.

Florida has advanced to the SEC championship game four out of the past five times the SEC tourney has been held in Atlanta: 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011. The Gators won in 2005 and 2007.

 

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Tim Tebow commits secondary NCAA violation with Ohio State recruit

It appears that former Florida Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and former coach Urban Meyer committed a secondary NCAA violation while Tebow was helping Meyer recruit a high school player for his current school, Ohio State.

Okay, sorta helping recruit. Kind of.

Tebow, who played for Meyer during his stellar Florida career, spoke with Illinois LB Clifton Garrett at Meyer's request, which is an NCAA violation. Former college players are prohibited from speaking to recruits on behalf of a university.

The call took place on March 9, 2013, according to Cleveland.com. Ohio State reported the violation to NCAA officials.

According to Cleveland.com:

"Upon receiving the call, Coach Meyer informed Garrett that he was on vacation and having lunch with friends and family, including Tim Tebow. Garrett asked Coach Meyer if he could wish Tebow good luck on the upcoming season. Coach Meyer handed the phone to Tebow and Garrett conversed with Tebow for approximately eight seconds. Coach Meyer stated that no recruiting conversation occurred, there was no intent to have Tebow recruit on behalf of Ohio State and he, in fact, did not recruit on behalf of Ohio State." …

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ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi says Gators can't afford to falter down the stretch

The Florida men's basketball team is on a serious roll right now, having won 20 consecutive games and ranked No. 1 in the nation.

But all that will mean little in the Gators' seeding in the NCAA Tournament if they falter in the final three regular season games, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said.

Lunardi currently has the Gators' as the No. 1 seed in the South Region in his latest NCAA Tournament mock bracket, but said that could change.

The Gators have games vs. LSU (Saturday in Gainesville) and at South Carolina before hosting Kentucky March 8 in the final regular season game of the year.

Lunardi said becasue the SEC as a whole is so weak this season, Florida can't afford losses to either LSU or South Carolin. …

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Gators, Seminoles extend contract through 2018

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston runs downfield during last season's game against Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston runs downfield during last season's game against Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Florida athletic officials announced today that the Florida-Florida State football series has been extended through 2018.

The contract between the two schools was set to expire after the 2014 season, and the schools signed an extension to ensure the annual rivalry remains on their respective schedules.

The 2015 and 2017 games will be played in Gainesville, while the 2016 and 2018 games will be in Tallahassee.

Florida has also agreed to terms with East Carolina on a one-game contract to host the Pirates on Sept. 12, 2015.

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ESPN'S Seth Greenberg: Gators Dorian Finney-Smith nation's best sixth man

ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg told me this week he believes the Gators have a shot to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament because of their versatility on offense and defense.

Part of that belief stems from the play of F Dorian Finney-Smith.

Finney-Smith is currently averaging 9.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, and his play off the bench, Greenberg said, makes him the nation's best sixth man.

Here's what Greenberg wrote today on ESPN.com:

Although it’s crucial to have a talented and efficient starting lineup in college basketball, it’s almost as important to boast depth. Bench players are integral pieces in a quest for a national title. Who will fill the void when someone gets in foul trouble? Who will provide a spark if the team gets in an offensive rut?
 …

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Tickets available for annual Tim Tebow golf tournament

Tickets are currently available for the fourth annual Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic.

The celebrity-filled tournament will be held on Saturday, March 15, at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Among the more than 30 celebrities and athletes expected to attend are former Gators Danny Wuerffel and Emmitt Smith. Gators coach Will Muschamp and former Florida, now Ohio State coach, Urban Meyer are also expected to attend.

Celebrities participating in the golf tournament will include NFL players, NBA legends, PGA TOUR professionals, national recording artists and TV stars.

Spectator tickets are available for $15 for adults, and $10 for anyone 18 and under. For a full list of participants or to purchase tickets, click here.

Proceeds go to the Tim Tebow Foundation, which is helping to build a children's hospital in the Phillippines and providing care for more than 1,100 orphans in four countries among its many missions.

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Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings: Gators are good at everything

When Vanderbilt hosts Florida tonight at 7, Commodores' coach Kevin Stallings said his team will be facing a Gators team that has few weaknesses.

"They are good at everything," Stallings said. "They are good at offense, they're good at
rebounding, they're experienced, they're tough and you can tell they have great leadership. There's absolutely nothing that would make them not good. They have great guard play, they have tough, physical guys up front, they have depth. I think everybody knows that Billy is a great coach but he's done a phenomenal job with their team. People forget that they had all kinds of adversity at the
beginning of the season, with injuries and suspensions and guys out, things like that. They found ways to win anyway. It's just an unbelievable job he's done with that team.''

Tonight's game will be televised on ESPN.

Florida will be without freshman G Kasey Hill who is out with a groin injury. Senior F Casey Prather (knee, ankle) and sophomore G Michael Frazier (wrist) are expected to play.

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Gators take time to enjoy success

As the regular season winds down and the No. 1 Gators continue to get every opponent's best shot, things won't get any easier for the Florida men's basketball team.

And although coach Billy Donovan continues to stress to hiis players to remain focused strictly on the next game, it doesn't mean the Gators aren't enjoying this historic run.

As the Gators prepare to play at Vanderbilt tonight, Florida is on a school-record 19-game winning streak and has its best start in school history: 25-2.

Donovan said he's doing his best to make sure the Gators enjoy every moment of their success. …

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Billy Donovan says No. 1 ranking nice, but not important

Florida coach Bill Donovan met with the media Monday, and of course the subject of the Gators' new No. 1 ranking was a topic of conversation.

So how does Donovan really feel about his team's first No. 1 ranking since 2007?

Let him tell you here:

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Gators are new No. 1 in men's basketball polls

Scottie Wilbekin does the Gator comp following Florida's victory over Auburn.

AP photo

Scottie Wilbekin does the Gator comp following Florida's victory over Auburn.

For the first time since 2007, the Florida men's basketball team sits atop the basketball rankings.

The Gators are ranked No. 1 in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, which were released today.

Florida (25-2, 14-0 SEC) received 47 first place votes in the AP poll, 24 in the Coaches poll. Undefeated Wichita State (29-0) received 14 first place AP votes, eight in the coaches poll.

The last time the Gators were No. 1 in the polls (February 2007), the team went on to win a national title. But Florida coach Billy Donovan said Monday while the ranking is an honor, the Gators can't get caught up in the hype surrounding it because it means very little in the grand scheme of things.

"I always think any time that that happens, it's an honor," he said. "I'm not dismissing that. I'm not dismissing the polls, I'm not dismissing any of that stuff. But I think what happens is sometimes you can get focused on that and what happens is now everything that you do is attached to a ranking. …

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Gators go for school-record start vs. Ole Miss today

Florida will play at Ole Miss today at noon, and the Gators will be trying to make some history in the process.

A victory would give Florida its best start in school history - 25-2. It would also keep the Gators undefeated in conference play.

The game will be televised nationally on CBS.

But the task won't be easy. The Rebels' guard Marshall Henderson leads the SEC in 3-point shooting, and coach Bily Donovan said playing on the road in the SEC is always a challenge.

More from Donovan as he breaks down Ole Miss:

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Gators say no revenge involved in facing Ole Miss

The last time Florida and Ole Miss met on the basketball court, the Rebels walked away with a 66-36 upset victory and an SEC Tournament Championship trophy.

But when Florida faces Ole Miss on Saturday at noon, the Gators said what happened last March will have little bearing on this game.

“I don’t think so," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Obviously we’ve lost three players from that team and they’ve lost a lot of frontcourt players from that team. From my perspective, that was a game that was played last year in the SEC Tournament and both teams had an opportunity in that game. They took better advantage of their opportunity than we did. We’re not getting that game back. It’s not like we’re going to replay that game. This is a new game for the 2014 SEC schedule. Right now, we’re having to play the game on the road.”

Florida senior C Patric Young said the game is still memorable for the current players, and that video of the Rebels' postgame celebration is currently being shown in the Florida locker room. But, he insists, Saturday's game isn't about revenge but continuing to strive for this year's goals. …

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Gators G Kasey Hill doubtful for Saturday's game at Ole Miss

Florida will most likely be without freshman guard Kasey Hill when the No. 2 Gators play at Ole Miss on Saturday.

Hill suffered a groin injury in last Saturday's game against Kentucky and did not play in Wednesday'd home game against Auburn.

"I would say right now he's doubtful," Florida coach Billy Donovan said Friday afternoon. "He did not practice at all yesterday (Thursday), didn't do much. I would say he is probably progressing a little bit more slowly than we maybe anticipated when he first got hurt. Right now I would say unless there's some kind of miraculous recovery here this afternoon I would say he'd be out tomorrow."

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