Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Sports

Florida beats Alabama, reaches SEC final

NASHVILLE — With his team struggling offensively and showing signs of collapse in another close game Saturday, Florida coach Billy Donovan brought out his "A-game" halftime speech.

The general message was for the entire team. But he had a special segment for guard Kenny Boynton. The senior had missed his past 10 3-pointers in SEC tournament play dating to last season and was scoreless in the first half.

"He challenged me to come out and play with confidence," Boynton said. "Honestly, he did challenge me. I think I tried to step up to it."

Boynton, who had two points in the first three halves in this tournament, scored 11 in a row on five shots to help spark a second-half run that rallied the Gators from a 10-point deficit to a 61-51 win over Alabama in the SEC tournament semifinals.

The No. 1 seed Gators play Mississippi today at 1 for their fourth SEC tournament championship. Ole Miss advanced to the title game with a 64-52 victory over Vanderbilt.

Boynton finished the game with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

"I think I went after him pretty good at halftime," Donovan said. "The reason I went after him, I said that I've seen him over his career do some remarkable things, and I've seen him when he's been in slumps. I've seen his fight. …

"I just told him, 'You're a senior in college right now. It's time to fight. You've always fought.' I said, 'I got great confidence in you, but you've got to fight right now. You've got to fight through what you're going through, and right now I don't see that fight and that look on your face.' "

As Boynton responded, so, too, did the rest of the Gators (26-6). After trailing by 10 with 16:05 left in the game, UF outscored Alabama 34-14, including a 15-0 run in which Boynton had 11 straight points, to end the game.

"I think they've been the best team in the league all year," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "You look at the way they played during the regular season. They made the plays they needed to make today. Very similar to the first time we played them, the run they had in the second half there from the 16-minute mark to about the 11-minute mark, probably tells the story of the game. A 13-0 run, you go from being up 10 to down 3."

It's not as if the Gators didn't have their own struggles against the fourth-seeded Crimson Tide (21-12).

Florida shot 5-of-14 from the field in the first 10 minutes and was 1-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half. The Gators went from 1:31 left in the first half until Boynton's 3-pointer with 13:51 left in the second without a field goal. In the final eight minutes of the half, only center Patric Young and forward Casey Prather scored field goals. The Gators shot just 3-of-17 from beyond the arc but shot 42 percent from the field for the game.

Young finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.

"It was a good win for our team," senior forward Erik Murphy said. "Being down like that, we had to come together, really grind the game out, get stops and get good shots and we did that. It felt good."

Comments
Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic walkoff homer celebration

BALTIMORE – Carlos Gomez is perfectly willing to explain the specific elements that went into his epic celebration tour around the bases following Sunday's walkoff home run.The bat flip and raised arms were his initial reaction to how well he h...
Updated: 2 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 24

Tuesday’s scoreboardBaseballCalvary Chr. 8, Jesuit 1Boys TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, King 1Girls TennisClass 3A, District 9-10 Regional Semifinal: Osceola 4, Freedom 1...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NBA players talking a very good game in playoffs

NBA players talking a very good game in playoffs

Boring interviews have been a hallmark of sports for decades. The art of the non-answer was undoubtedly developed as a defense mechanism — and it was perfected by Derek Jeter during his tenure with the Yankees — but every now and again pl...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

Softball: Haley Murphy, East Bay back in top form

PLANT CITY — East Bay senior Haley Murphy had to take a few games off early this season to give the flaring tendinitis in her left knee a rest.When Murphy did come back around midseason, East Bay coach Glenn Rodriguez eased her into the fl...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBaseballMariners at White Sox2 p.m.MLBNationals at Giants (in progress)5 p.m.MLBTwins at Yankees6:30 p.m.1040-AMRays at Orioles7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMCubs at Indians7 p.m.ESPNMarlins at Dodgers7:30 p.m.FSFCollege baseballIndiana at Purdue7 p.m.ESP...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: Boca Ciega gets a shot at defending district champ

DUNEDIN — Standing in centerfield during her team's Class 6A-9 district semifinal Tuesday night, Boca Ciega's Mia Blasingane had one dominating thought: "We want Tarpon Springs real bad. I was saying that to myself. I want to see Tarpon Springs...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Softball: Alonso knocks off defending state finalist PHU in 9A-8 semifinals

PALM HARBOR — To get an idea of just how tough the competition is in Class 9A, District 8, consider that there has been a different tournament champion each of the past three seasons.All three — Newsome (2015), Alonso (2016) and Palm Harb...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

Rays Journal: On the early rainout, pitching plans, medical matters, more

BALTIMORE – If the Rays were going to get rained out Tuesday, they were happy  the Orioles made the decision at a good hour, around 5 p.m."I think they probably did the right thing in the fact that they knew there's a bunch of rain coming,...
Updated: 5 hours ago
ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway's off-field struggles continue.ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine.Former Florida WR Antonio Callaway -- who some cons...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning opens second round Saturday; time depends on opponent

Lightning opens second round Saturday; time depends on opponent

Game 1 of the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinals begins Saturday at Amalie Arena regardless of whether the Maple Leafs or Bruins win Wednesday's first-round series Game 7 to advance.Still in question is the start time.If the Bruins advanc...
Updated: 7 hours ago