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)

NCAA '09

Florida Gators beat Arkansas in SEC basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum

TAMPA — After Florida's regular-season finale Saturday, senior guard Walter Hodge said he had played his final game at the O'Connell Center.

Reminded that the Gators could host an NIT game if Florida doesn't make the NCAA Tournament, Hodge replied: "This was my last game in the O'Dome. I promise you."

On Thursday night, he did his part to try and keep that promise. Hodge scored a game-high 16 and had three assists, and junior Dan Werner had a double double to lead the Gators to a 73-58 victory over Arkansas in front of 12,152 in the first round of the SEC men's basketball tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum.

It was the fourth meeting between the two schools in the conference tournament, and the third in the past four years.

The Gators (23-9), the No. 3 seed in the East, play Auburn (22-10), the No. 2 seed in the West, tonight at 9:45. Florida, which slumped at the end of the regular season, likely needs to keep winning to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

The Tigers have won eight of their past nine, beating SEC regular-season champion LSU.

The Gators defeated Arkansas by 15 at home in mid January, and Florida coach Billy Donovan said he cautioned his team about taking anything for granted based on their earlier meeting.

As in the first meeting, the Razorbacks kept it close in the first half. Florida led 29-26 at halftime after the Razorbacks had a 5-0 run in the final 44 seconds.

Leading 39-38, Florida took control by outscoring Arkansas 10-0 and never relinquished that lead. Werner credited defense.

"I think our press started it," Werner said. … "We (got) a couple of big steals and went down and finished. We hit foul shots."

Arkansas (14-16) held Nick Calathes to 11 points, but the veterans helped carry the load.

Werner had 15 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. Calathes aided in other ways, with six rebounds and seven assists.

Florida began shooting 1-of-5. Nearly midway through the first half, the Gators shot 38 percent and were outrebounded 10-4.

"I think to start the game it certainly appeared offensively both teams were a little bit uptight," Donovan said. "And I thought we settled down in the second half and played a good second half on both ends. I'm just happy for these guys that they can move on and play again (tonight) and (it's) a great opportunity for them to play against an Auburn team that's probably as hot and playing as well as anybody in our league."

Florida maintained an early lead because the Razorbacks also shot poorly. Arkansas (14-16) shot 5-of-17 in the first nine minutes and was 1-of-5 from 3-point range.

"I thought Arkansas' guys tried just as hard," Donovan said. "Maybe we were just able to make a few more plays than they were to open a lead. But certainly it was close for most of the game."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Today's SEC games

St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, TV: Sun Sports

.Kentucky vs. LSU, 1

.Mississippi State vs. South Carolina, 3:15

.Alabama vs. Tennessee, 7:30

.Florida vs. Auburn, 9:45

SEC tournament: First round

Complete coverage, 6-7C

SEC tickets

.Single-session tickets are $50 each, plus any applicable fees, and are available for remaining sessions. Unsold tickets from member schools can be bought at the Times Forum box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling toll-free 1-800-745-3000.

More basketball coverage

.No. 4 seed FSU, which had a bye, plays its ACC tournament opener vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech today (2:15, ESPN2, 1040-AM). 8C

.Georgia Tech upsets Clemson and Miami loses in the ACC. 8C

.Kansas, Oklahoma upset in Big 12 (8C); Pitt loses in Big East (9C)

.For more photos of SEC matchups, go to

Kentucky 71
Mississippi 58
Alabama 82
Vanderbilt 75
Mississippi St. 79
Georgia 60
Florida 73
Arkansas 58

Florida 73

Arkansas 58


Florida Gators beat Arkansas in SEC basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum 03/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 13, 2009 7:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs safety Chris Conte became a father during Sunday's loss at Arizona


    Chris Conte attempts to tackle Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. [AP photo]
  2. Time to break out the Bucs fan's emergency kit?


    A fan in a throwback jersey waits for the start of a game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
  3. Lightning approaches decision time for Mikhail Sergachev

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev had dinner with his host family from juniors Monday.

    The Lightning has to decide, as early as this weekend whether Mikhail Sergachev will stick in the NHL or return to juniors for another season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  4. Quarterbacks, head coach targeting Vernon Hargreaves; 'I'm not producing,' he says


    Eli Manning gathered his receivers together during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and informed them of the weakest link of the secondary he planned to target that afternoon.

    Quarterbacks this season have a 128.7 rating when targeting Vernon Hargreaves. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. J.T. Brown won't raise fist, but plans to do more in community


    Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer be raising his first as a silent protest during the national anthem.

    J.T. Brown plans to do more in the community to create awareness and understanding for key issues of police brutality and racial inequality.