Make us your home page
Instagram

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 english@sptimes.com.

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, SECsports.com 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 sports.tampabay.com

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


Florida 73

Arkansas 58

XXXXXX

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

Loading...
  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends

    Bucs

    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.