Sunday, May 20, 2018
Sports

Gators beat Mississippi State, stay perfect in SEC

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Florida's 3-point shooting was mediocre and its free-throw percentage was brutal.

But when the offense is inconsistent, the third-ranked Gators are still one of the nation's most dominant teams thanks to a defense that never quits.

Casey Prather scored 16, Patric Young added 12 and Florida beat Mississippi State 62-51 Thursday night for its 12th straight victory.

"We can't always control the ball going in the basket," Young said, "but we can control our energy on the defensive end."

And that energy was intense the entire night. Mississippi State was a respectable 23-of-54 (42.6 percent) from the field but had to work hard on every possession.

The Bulldogs briefly took a 31-30 lead early in the second half on Gavin Ware's layup, but the Gators (18-2, 7-0 SEC) responded with a 16-4 run to extend its conference lead to two games over Kentucky and Ole Miss.

It was the 12th time this season UF held an opponent to 60 points or fewer.

Florida coach Billy Donovan said the key to stopping Mississippi State was keeping it off the free-throw line. The Bulldogs had 117 combined free-throw attempts in three SEC home games this season. They were just 1-of-6 on Thursday.

"A huge key was if we could defend them off the bounce and not foul," Donovan said. "I thought we did a good job there."

Florida's Michael Frazier missed his first six 3-pointers, but the sophomore from Tampa made his last three to help the Gators keep a comfortable lead throughout most of the second half.

"When he's open, I want him shooting," Donovan said.

The Gators made 6 of 20 3-pointers (30 percent) and 8 of 19 free throws (42.1 percent).

Mississippi State (13-7, 3-4) lost for the first time at home during conference play. The Bulldogs have lost four straight to the Gators. Colin Borchert scored 15 for Mississippi State.

The Gators have a quick turnaround, hosting Texas A&M on Saturday (4 p.m., Ch. 38). Then Chris Walker, Florida's touted 6-foot-10 freshman forward, is expected to make his debut in Tuesday's home game against Missouri after being cleared by the NCAA.

Walker will provide needed frontcourt depth, but Young was more than enough Thursday. The senior provided timely baskets and post defense.

"No disrespect to Mississippi State, but they're probably not going to win an SEC champion­ship this year," Young said. "We have an opportunity to do that, and we need to play to a champion­ship level."

Comments
For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

For starters: Rays at Angels, with Romo again as “the opener”

The Rays were so pleased with how their Saturday night experiment went with veteran reliever RHP Sergio Romo pitching the first inning – as "the opener" – before giving way to LHP Ryan Yarbrough that they are going to do it again today.Th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Softball: Scouting the Academy at the Lakes vs. Lake Worth Christian semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Academy at the Lakes vs. Lake Worth Christian semifinal

Academy at the Lakes (24-4) vs. Lake Worth Christian (10-3)Where: 11:50 a.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got thereAcademy at the Lakes defeated Seacrest Country Day 11-1, defeated Canterbury 5-1Lake Worth Christian defeated...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Playing .500 ball is obviously no goal, and the Rays certainly know that.But given where they came from, that terrible 1-8 start that oozed into 3-12 and 4-13, climbing back to the respectability of .500 would be an accomplish...
Published: 05/20/18
Lightning defeats Capitals, can clinch Stanley Cup berth in Game 6

Lightning defeats Capitals, can clinch Stanley Cup berth in Game 6

Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) celebrates his first period goal after beating Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (70) 29 seconds after the start in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Saturday...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first part of the Rays' new and unusual pitching plan worked so well Saturday, as game "opener" RHP Sergio Romo struck out the first three Angels hitters, that the Rays will do it again on Sunday.That's right. Romo will st...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

TAMPA — A two-goal lead was suddenly only one, and the Washington Capitals, having pulled their goalie, had a furious 96-second siege.Andrei Vasilevskiy made the last three of his 28 saves to preserve the Lightning's 3-2 victory Saturday in Gam...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

TAMPA — Dan Girardi knew where the puck was heading. It was heading to Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer on net, so Girardi did the only thing he could do. He blocked it.With his rump."It hit me right in the cheek," said Girardi, the Lightning defe...
Published: 05/19/18
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Faster than Justify down the stretch at the Preakness, quicker than Harry and Meghan walked down the aisle at Windsor Castle, the Lightning jumped on Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. No runaway gallop. No funny hats. Just ho...
Published: 05/19/18
Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

TAMPA — They're called grinders. Pluggers. Checkers.They're lunch-pail guys. Like 9-to-5ers. They get up every day and go to work. They punch in and punch out for no glory or credit. But the business would fall apart without them.They're the fo...
Published: 05/19/18
Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

BALTIMORE — Justify rounded the final turn and hit the top of the stretch winded but with the lead. The roar from the crowd was delayed, hushed by the thick fog that enveloped the track. When Justify emerged from the haze in view of the grandstand, t...
Published: 05/19/18