Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Despite strong start, Gators focus on the present

Scottie Wilbekin and the Gators are ranked No. 6 in this week's AP poll, have an RPI of No. 8, and are the lone unbeatens in the conference (15-2, 4-0 SEC).

Getty Images

Scottie Wilbekin and the Gators are ranked No. 6 in this week's AP poll, have an RPI of No. 8, and are the lone unbeatens in the conference (15-2, 4-0 SEC).


Following a start to the season that included injuries and the suspension of senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, the Florida basketball team is on a serious roll early in the SEC season.

The Gators moved up a spot to No. 6 in this week's AP poll, have an RPI of No. 8 and are the lone unbeaten team in the conference (15-2, 4-0).

But as the Gators get a few extra days of preparation before returning to the court at Alabama on Thursday night, Florida coach Billy Donovan is clearly trying to ensure that they remain focused simply on the upcoming game, not what has happened to this point.

"We're all going to play an 18-game (SEC) schedule," Donovan said. "Obviously it's not a balanced schedule as we all know, but right now we're on to the next game. We've got to get prepared to go on the road to play Alabama.

"So as it relates to us right now, our record really has nothing to do with the preparation and what we've got to do going on the road here on Thursday. Certainly we're happy that after the first four games we're 4-0, but right now it really doesn't mean a whole lot going forward. It's about our team just trying to continue to grow, get better, try to improve and try to reach a level where we feel like we're getting to our fullest potential as a team."

The Gators are on a nine-game winning streak and are one of only two ranked SEC teams (Kentucky is No. 14).

RECRUITING COUNTDOWN: As the countdown to the Feb. 5 National Signing Day continues, Florida has four players in the 100 who are orally committed or early enrollees: DB Jalen Tabor, QB Will Grier, DT Thomas Holley and DE Gerald Willis III.

FINALLY, HOME: The Gators' defending national champion gymnastics team will compete at home for the first time this week after opening the season with two road meets. The Gators, who are tied with Utah at No. 4 nationally, are coming off a 197.075-196.225 win at No. 18 Auburn and will host No. 9 Georgia (1-2, 1-0 SEC) on Friday at 7 p.m. at the O'Connell Center.

Florida's 197.075 is the nation's top road score so far this season. Georgia opened its home season Friday with a win over No. 2 LSU.

"It was challenging — two road meets is very hard," UF coach Rhonda Faehn said. "This is the first time we've done that since my first season at Florida."

SUPER BOWL GATORS: For the 12th consecutive year, there will be former Florida Gators on the Super Bowl rosters. Three former Gators will be in Super Bowl XLVIII: Tampa native and former Jefferson star Andre Caldwell (Denver), DT Jeremy Mincey (Denver) and WR Percy Harvin (Seattle).

Former Gators players have been a part of 16 Super Bowl-winning teams, and the Gators have 41 players and 55 appearances in the Super Bowl.

Former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is also headed to the Super Bowl as the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks.

PRATHER'S EMERGENCE: To get a better understanding of just how well senior F Casey Prather is playing this season, try this: Prather needs just 17 points to match his total for his first three seasons with the Gators (276).

He might have already surpassed his three-season total if not for injuries. Prather has missed two games this season, including last week's win over Georgia last week (knee), but he returned for Saturday's game at Auburn and had 21 points.

Antonya English can be reached at

Despite strong start, Gators focus on the present 01/20/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 20, 2014 7:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon


    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017


    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.