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Putting the “D” in Tide

Written by johnpatton, February 28, 2011, 0 Comments,
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So, following Southeastern Conference East Division-winner Florida’s season closely, we all know how the Gators have gotten to their 22-6 overall record and 11-3 SEC mark.

But, out West, how has Alabama (19-9), 10th in the league in scoring at 67.6 points-a-game, managed to have the exact same conference record as 14th-ranked UF?

In a word, defense.

The Crimson Tide ranks first nationally in opponents’ two-point field goal percentage (.399) and points-per-possession allowed (0.84). They also rank top-5 in steals-per-game (9.6), opponents overall field goal percentage (.373) and scoring defense (58.2 ppg), topping the SEC in each.

A remarkable five of the SEC’s top-10 thieves play for Alabama with sophomore swingman Tony Mitchell’s 1.79 steals-a-game ranking second in the league. Not far back are Senario Hillman (1.54), Trevor Releford (1.5), JaMychal Green (1.4) and Chris Hines (1.36).

To offer an idea how unique that is, Florida also is one of the best defensive teams in the conference, but its top thief, Erving Walker, ranks just 18th in the SEC with 1.14 spg.

“I think the guys understand that if we defend up to our ability, we’ll have a chance every game,” said Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant, who will be making his first non-recruiting or non-vacation visit to Gainesville since he left Billy Donovan’s staff following the 2006 season.

It has worked pretty well this year.

En route to winning the West title, Alabama has averaged 9.57 steals-a-game, fourth in all of Division I basketball. The Crimson Tide averages 1.32 more steals each game than the SEC’s No. 2 team in the category, Auburn.

Tigers’ coach Tony Barbee said his team’s in-state rivals play strong, despite not having a starter bigger than 6-foot-8, 228 pounds.

“They’re physical with your ball-handlers,” Barbee said. “They’re very physical guarding in the post. They’ve got their hands on you, (and) they’re directing you with their hands.

“They’re just a physical team. It’s something a lot of teams try to do, but Alabama has the personnel to do it.”

And that’s a good thing because outside of Green (16.1 ppg), Mitchell (15.7 ppg) and Releford (10.3 ppg), the Tide won’t exactly scare anyone when they have the ball.

“We take a lot of pride in (our defense),” senior guard Charvez Davis said. “Our coach tells us every day our offense is not going to beat anybody, (so) we’ve got to rely on defense.

“We just try to take our opponents out of their offense as much as possible.”

MIDWEEK SEC PICKS

I whiffed on UF-UK last weekend, but I did pick the “upset special” of Mississippi over Alabama correctly. So, here goes: Florida 60, Alabama 56; Kentucky 78, Vanderbilt 70; Mississippi 69, Auburn 55; Georgia 80, LSU 66; Mississippi State 72, Arkansas 71; Tennessee 82, South Carolina 69.

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR/ANSWERS FROM

Kentucky


1. Kentucky’s standout freshman point guard Brandon Knight was 4-of-5 from three-point range when these two teams met in the O’Connell Center (though the one he missed would have been the game-winner). Will he be as effective from deep this time around?

Answer: Knight was 2-of-3 from behind the arc this time and finished with 16 points.

2. Chandler Parsons said that continuing to play will not worsen his deep thigh bruise, though the pain is something he said he probably will have to deal with the rest of the season. That said, Parsons played 30 minutes 43 hours earlier against Georgia, so there may be some additional soreness on Saturday because he hasn’t had much rest. Will that affect his play?

Answer: It sure didn’t look like it. Parsons finished with 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and a game-high seven assists. He also turned the ball over just once in his 37 minutes.

3. Statistically, the first game between these two teams was about as even as you can find. Both teams grabbed 32 rebounds, had six steals and blocked five shots. The assist totals also were close (15-14 UF). How will things play out this time?

Answer: Kentucky outrebounded UF, 34-32, with Josh Harrellson and Terrence Jones combining for 21. The league leader in offensive rebounds, Harrellson pulled down six of those. Florida had three steals to UK’s one, while the Wildcats outblocked the Gators, 7-1. UF had 18 assists to Kentucky’s 12.

4. Alex Tyus, Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Vernon Macklin combined to go 14-for-14 from the foul line in the first meeting with the Wildcats, as UF was 18-for-22 as a team. In a not-so-friendly environment, can Florida as efficient this time around on the freebies?

Answer: The Gators made 10-of-13 from the foul line with Walker (5-for-5) and Boynton (2-for-2) not missing.

5. Two SEC player of the year candidates did not shoot well in the first meeting. Kentucky forward Terrence Jones made just 7-of-18 shots, while UF point guard Erving Walker had his worst shooting game of the season (1-for-9). Will the Wildcats and Gators get more efficient shooting this time around from their leading scorers?

Answer: It was a similar story for both standouts. Jones was 4-of-11 for eight points, while Walker was 2-for-12 (1-for-6 on three-pointers) for 10 points.

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR

Alabama


1. The Gator crowd was a huge factor in UF’s recent home victories against Tennessee and Kentucky. This is Senior Night for Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons (injured redshirt junior Adam Allen will be honored, too). Will the orange and blue faithful again play a big role in what should be an emotional contest?

2. With a frontline that goes 6-foot-6, 6-8 and 6-8 with no one heavier than 228 pounds, Alabama is a bit on the small side. Florida often likes to go to Macklin early in games, and he often sets the tone for how UF starts on offense. That said, he hasn’t shot well lately (making just 13 of his last 28 shots). Will he turn in around in his final game in the O’Connell Center?

3. Believe it or not, Chandler Parsons is the only usual Gator starter to not have a 20-point game this year. Will this, his final home game, be the night he reaches 20?

4. Alabama’s JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are one of the SEC’s best duos, combining to average 31.8 points, 14.7 rebounds, 3.45 blocked shots and 3.19 steals. Will the Gators be able to slow Green and Mitchell down, or will the Tide pair rise?

5. Alex Tyus had a strong outing in UF’s 66-65 victory against the Crimson Tide last year in Tuscaloosa. He made 8-of-10 shots for a team-high 19 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a shot. Can the Gators get a similar performance out of Tyus in his final home game in orange and blue?

GAME 29 PREVIEW

No. 14 FLORIDA GATORS (22-6, 11-3)

Position: Players, Height/Weight, Year, 2010-11 statistics

G: Erving Walker,
5-8/171, JR, 14.6 points per game, 3.2 assists per game

G: Kenny Boynton, 6-2/183, SO, 13.5 points per game, 2.4 assists per game

F: Chandler Parsons, 6-10/218, SR, 11.1 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game

F: Alex Tyus, 6-8/220, SR, 8.7 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game

C: Vernon Macklin, 6-10/240, SR, 11.2 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game

Head coach: Billy Donovan (353-145 in 15th season at Florida; 388-165 in 17th season as a head coach)

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (19-9, 11-3)

Position: Players, Height/Weight, Year, 2010-11 statistics

G: Trevor Releford,
6-1/180, FR, 10.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game

G: Charvez Davis, 6-3/186, SR, 7.9 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game

F: Tony Miller, 6-6/210, SO, 15.7 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game

F: JaMychal Green, 6-8/228, JR, 16.1 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game

F: Chris Hines, 6-8/227, SR, 5.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game

Head coach: Anthony Grant (36-24 in 2nd season at Kentucky and 112-49 in five seasons overall)

When: Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m.

Where: Stephen C. O’Connell Center

TV/Radio: ESPNU/Gator Radio Network

Tickets: Visit http://www.gatorzone.com/tickets, call (352) 375-4683 (ex: 6800) or go to the O’Connell Center ticket office in person.

Notable: Alabama leads the all-time series, 73-59, according to Florida. The Crimson Tide record books list the series record as 73-57. … However, UF has won 15-of-18 against the Crimson Tide, dating back to 1999. The Gators won last year’s only meeting between the two teams, 66-65, on Feb. 4, 2010 in Tuscaloosa. … Billy Donovan is 16-5 against Alabama, a total that includes an 8-0 mark at home, as Florida’s coach. … UF is 4-1 against the West this year after going 6-0 last season. The Gators are 54-17 against the West since 2000. … Florida is 13-3 at home this year and is looking for its 14th win in Gainesville for the seventh time in Donovan’s 15 seasons. … Both teams enter the game having won 14-of-17. … Alabama has made 19 NCAA Tournament appearances, all since 1975. … The Crimson Tide has won the conference’s regular-season title seven times and the SEC Tournament six times. From 1989-92, UA won 11 consecutive conference tournament games. … Only Kentucky has more all-time SEC wins than Alabama’s 720. … Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton are combining to score 30.2 points-a-game in SEC play. Both guards have scored in double figures 23 times this year. … Walker, Boynton and Chandler Parsons have combined to make 78 of Florida’s 89 three-pointers in conference play. … Alabama’s 11-3 league mark is the program’s best since the 1986-87 team, led by versatile forward Derrick McKey, won the SEC championship. … Only six of the Crimson Tide’s last 17 opponents have scored at least 60 points in regulation. … In its last three halves of play, UF has dished out 28 assists while turning the ball over just 13 times. … Maligned much of the year for their foul shooting, the Gators are making 73.6 percent of their free throws the last six games. During that span, UF has made 81 foul shots, while opponents have attempted only 66. … The game will be Donovan’s 499th as Florida’s coach. Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant was beside Donovan for 324 of those games, helping UF to a 226-98 record from 1996-2006. … Alabama sophomore swingman Tony Mitchell has scored at least 20 points in five of the last eight games. He is averaging 18.8 ppg over that stretch, which comes out to 27.7-percent of UA’s scoring. Alabama is 7-2 when Mitchell scores at least 20 points. … Crimson Tide guard Trevor Releford is 16-of-18 from the foul line in the final three minutes of games and overtime and has been named the SEC’s freshman of the week twice this season. Releford’s play has meant less and less of former point guard Senario Hillman. The senior, who is second all-time to Terry Coner (174) at Alabama in steals with 169, played just 12 minutes in the Crimson Tide’s loss to Mississippi last Saturday. … Hillman needs just 13 points to join JaMychal Green in Alabama’s 1,000-point club. Green was the 43rd player in Tide history to eclipse that mark. … Crimson Tide senior Chris Hines had a career-high 15 points in Alabama’s 68-63 loss to the Rebels last Saturday. … UA is 3-1 against the SEC East this year. The rest of the West is a combined 8-21 against the East. … Alabama is 1-2 against teams ranked in the AP top 25 this season. The Tide is 3-10 all-time against Florida when the Gators are ranked and are 6-5 all-time when playing a team ranked 14th, like UF. However, Florida is 5-0 all-time against Alabama in Gainesville when the Gators enter the contest ranked. … Sometimes, Florida fans give their team grief about its .344 three-point shooting percentage. Well, imagine following the Crimson Tide, which shoots .300 on threes. Alabama is averaging 4.1 three-pointers-a-game and is one of 44 Division I teams averaging less than five three-pointers-a-game. Only six of those teams have at least 19 wins this year with the Tide being one of them. … Parsons needs 13 rebounds to reach 800 for his career. He surpassed 300 assists when he dished out seven last Saturday at Kentucky to give him 303. He needs 55 points to get to 1,400. … Mitchell leads Alabama with 52 dunks this year. Vernon Macklin’s 23 leads Alex Tyus by one and Parsons by five for the Gator lead. The Crimson Tide has outdunked opponents 109-29 this season. … Walker is exactly 80-for-100 from the foul line in the final three minutes of the game for his career. He is 30-for-40 this year. … UF has made at least one three-pointer in 640 consecutive games. Gator foes have made a shot from deep in 410 straight contests. … Weird stat: Florida has had five 12-0 runs this season, but has not had an 11-0 spurt or a run longer than 12-0. The Gators have had 11 runs of 10-0 in 2010-11. … Boynton enters the contest exactly 150-of-190 (.789) from the foul line for his career. … Boynton needs 45 points to reach 900 for his career. … Macklin needs 27 points to get to 700 in his two seasons as a Gator. … Erik Murphy scored 115 points as a freshman and now has 114 as a sophomore. Also, after attempting no three-pointers last year, Murphy is 8-for-20 (.400) this season. His 15 blocked shots also are nearly double his total of eight from a year ago. … Freshman swingman Casey Prather grabbed the 30th rebound of his young career last Saturday at Kentucky. … Kevin Durant’s cousin, Kendall Durant, is a UA junior. However, he has been out since Dec. 4 with a fractured bone in his left foot. … With one more steal, Tyus will have 50 in his college career. He also needs 57 points to reach 1,300. … Walker needs eight assists to reach 350 for his career. With five more made three-pointers, he will have 200 of those for his career. He surpassed the 1,200-point mark on Saturday at Kentucky. He has 1,201 career points entering the Alabama game. … Scottie Wilbekin recorded two assists at Kentucky to give him 50 this season. He also is five rebounds from 50. … Freshman center Patric Young needs four rebounds to reach 100 for his career. … Alabama enters the contest having outscored opponents 999-640 in the paint this year, a difference of 12.8 ppg this year. The Crimson Tide has yet to be outscored in the paint in a game this year. … Alabama’s last five opponents are averaging 18 turnovers-a-game. … Green’s 19 career double-doubles leads all SEC players. Oddly, the Tide is just 9-10 in those games. Parsons tops UF with 13 double-doubles (six this year). … Former Alabama players have won nine NBA championships with seven coming from Robert Horry. … Neither the Crimson Tide nor the Gators have been called for a 10-second violation this season. … Parsons is averaging 12.8 ppg and 10.0 rpg his last nine games. … Alabama has drawn just 11 charges this season, three less than Walker and Young’s combined total. … UF’s Adam Allen is expected to take part in the Senior Night ceremonies. A redshirt junior, he has battled knee injuries his entire Gator career and had three operations. He said before the season that if he couldn’t get healthy enough to play this year he won’t try next. On Monday, he acknowledged his basketball career is finished.

PAST EXAMS AND GATOR(GR)ADES

Game 1: Florida 77, UNC Wilmington 60. Gator Player of the Game: Scottie Wilbekin (3 points, 5 assists, 4 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Chad Tomko (15 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B– . Record: 1-0.

Game 2: Ohio State 93, Florida 75. Gator Player of the Game: Vernon Macklin (12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block); Opposing Players of the Game: David Lighty (26 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) and Jared Sullinger (26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C. Record: 1-1.

Game 3: Florida 105, North Carolina A&T 55. Gator Player of the Game: Will Yeguete (7 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Thomas Coleman (8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A– . Record: 2-1.

Game 4: Florida 61, Morehead State 55. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (13 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Kenneth Faried (20 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocked shots. Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C– . Record: 3-1.

Game 5: Florida 79, Florida Atlantic 63. Gator Players of the Game: Alex Tyus (19 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist) and Kenny Boynton (21 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound); Opposing Player of the Game: Greg Gantt (17 points, 2 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B-. Record: 4-1.

Game 6: Florida 55, Florida State 51. Gator Player of the Game: Erik Murphy (10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 blocked shot); Opposing Player of the Game: Michael Snaer (15 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 5-1.

Game 7: Central Florida 57, Florida 54. Gator Player of the Game: Vernon Macklin (20 points on 10-of-11 shooting, 8 rebounds); Opposing Player of the Game: Marcus Jordan (18 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C-. Record: 5-2.

Game 8: Florida 67, American 48. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Troy Brewer (17 points, 2 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 6-2.

Game 9: Florida 65, Kent State 52. Gator Players of the Game: Alex Tyus (20 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist) and Vernon Macklin (19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 1 steal, 1 assist); Opposing Player of the Game: Carlton Guyton (14 points, 4-of-6 on three-pointers, 3 rebounds, 3 assists). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 7-2.

Game 10: Florida 57, Kansas State 44. Gator Players of the Game: Kenny Boynton (15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 1 assist, helped limit Pullen to 6-of-17 shooting); Opposing Player of the Game: Jacob Pullen (19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 8-2.

Game 11: Jacksonville 71, Florida 68 (OT). Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (game-high 21 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound); Opposing Player of the Game: Keith McDougald (team-high 18 points – 15 in the second half/overtime, 2 steals, 1 rebound). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D+. Record: 8-3.

Game 12: Florida 66, Radford 55. Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (game-high 20 points, including 5-of-7 on 3s, 3 assists, 2 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Johnathan Edwards (team-high 15 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C-. Record: 9-3.

Game 13: Florida 71, Xavier 67. Gator Player of the Game: Kenny Boynton (16 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal); Opposing Player of the Game: Tu Holloway (game-high 26 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 10-3.

Game 14: Florida 84, Rhode Island 59. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (18 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot); Opposing Player of the Game: Delroy James (game-high 23 points, 6 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 11-3.

Game 15: Florida 77, Mississippi 71. Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, becomes 47th Gator to record 1,000 career points); Opposing Player of the Game: Chris Warren (20 points, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 rebounds, 1 blocked shot). Buddy’s Gator(Gr)ade: B+. Record: 12-3 (1-0 in the SEC).

Game 16: Florida 81, Tennessee 75 (OT). Gator Player of the Game: Alex Tyus (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 1 steal); Opposing Players of the Game: Cameron Tatum (game-high 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal) and Tobias Harris (18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 13-3 (2-0).

Game 17: South Carolina 72, Florida 69 Gator Player of the Game: Patric Young (career-high 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal, 2-for-2 FTs in 19 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Bruce Ellington (game-high 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4-for-4 on FTs, 1 turnover in 30 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D+. Record: 13-4 (2-1).

Game 18: Florida 45, Auburn 40 Gator Player of the Game: No award given; Opposing Player of the Game: Earnest Ross (11 points, 3-of-4 three-pointers, 3 rebounds, game-high 3 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D. Record: 14-4 (3-1).

Game 19: Florida 75, Arkansas 43 Gator Players of the Game: Kenny Boynton (20 points, 4-of-7 three-pointers, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers, held Razorbacks’ leading scorer, Rotnei Clark, shotless) and Chandler Parsons (career-high 15 rebounds, 5 points, game-high 5 assists); Opposing Player of the Game: Delvon Johnson (12 points, team-high 7 rebounds, 1 blocked shot). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 15-4 (4-1).

Game 20: Florida 104, Georgia 91 (2 OT) Gator Players of the Game: Vernon Macklin (career-high 23 points, 10-of-15 from floor, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), Kenny Boynton (game-high 24 points, 12-of-12 FTs, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) and Erving Walker (game-high 24 points, game-tying 3 at end of first OT, 5 assists, 4 rebounds); Opposing Player of the Game: Trey Thompkins (20 points, game-high 13 rebounds, game-high 3 blocked shots). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 16-4 (5-1).

Game 21: Mississippi State 71, Florida 64 Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (team-high 18 points, 5 rebounds, team-high 4 assists, 2 turnovers); Opposing Player of the Game: Dee Bost (game-high 24 points, game-high 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C. Record: 16-5 (5-2).

Game 22: Florida 65, Vanderbilt 61 (OT) Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (team-high 18 points, game-high 11 rebounds with 4 offensive, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 turnover in 39 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: John Jenkins (game-high 22 points, 6 rebounds 1 steal, 1 turnover in 42 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 17-5 (6-2).

Game 23: Florida 70, Kentucky 68 Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (team-high 17 points, game-high 12 rebounds with 3 offensive, 5 assists, 1 blocked shot, no turnovers in 37 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Brandon Knight (game-high 24 points, 4-of-5 three-pointers, 6-for-6 FTs, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 blocked shot, 4 turnovers in 36 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 18-5 (7-2).

Game 24: Florida 79, South Carolina 60 Gator Players of the Game: Chandler Parsons (14 points, game-high 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal) and Erving Walker (season- and game-high 25 points on just 9 shots – making seven, including 4-of-5 three-pointers, 3 assists, 2 steals, just 1 turnover in 36 minutes) ; Opposing Player of the Game: Bruce Ellington (team-high 14 points, 5 rebounds, co-team-high 3 assists, co-team-high 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 19-5 (8-2).

Game 25: Florida 61, Tennessee 60 Gator Players of the Game: Erving Walker (team-high 16 points – including 9-for-9 from the foul line, 3 assists, 1 rebound) and Alex Tyus (10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals) ; Opposing Player of the Game: Scotty Hopson (game-high 22 points, 3-of-3 on three-pointers, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 20-5 (9-2).

Game 26: Florida 68, LSU 61 Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (co-team-high 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal); Opposing Player of the Game: Ralston Turner (game-high 18 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C+. Record: 21-5 (10-2).

Game 27: Florida 71, Georgia 62 Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot, 0 turnovers); Opposing Player of the Game: Travis Leslie (game-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 4-of-4 foul shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 22-5 (11-2).

Game 28: Kentucky 76, Florida 68 Gator Players of the Game: Chandler Parsons (15 points, team-high 8 rebounds, game-high 1 turnover in 37 minutes) and Kenny Boynton (team-high 21 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover in 29 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Darius Miller (game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 4-of-5 foul shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocked shots, 1 turnover in 35 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B-. Record: 22-6 (11-3).

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So, following Southeastern Conference East Division-winner Florida’s season closely, we all know how the Gators have gotten to their 22-6 overall record and 11-3 SEC mark.

But, out West, how has Alabama (19-9), 10th in the league in scoring at 67.6 points-a-game, managed to have the exact same conference record as 14th-ranked UF?

In a word, defense.

The Crimson Tide ranks first nationally in opponents’ two-point field goal percentage (.399) and points-per-possession allowed (0.84). They also rank top-5 in steals-per-game (9.6), opponents overall field goal percentage (.373) and scoring defense (58.2 ppg), topping the SEC in each.

A remarkable five of the SEC’s top-10 thieves play for Alabama with sophomore swingman Tony Mitchell’s 1.79 steals-a-game ranking second in the league. Not far back are Senario Hillman (1.54), Trevor Releford (1.5), JaMychal Green (1.4) and Chris Hines (1.36).

To offer an idea how unique that is, Florida also is one of the best defensive teams in the conference, but its top thief, Erving Walker, ranks just 18th in the SEC with 1.14 spg.

“I think the guys understand that if we defend up to our ability, we’ll have a chance every game,” said Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant, who will be making his first non-recruiting or non-vacation visit to Gainesville since he left Billy Donovan’s staff following the 2006 season.

It has worked pretty well this year.

En route to winning the West title, Alabama has averaged 9.57 steals-a-game, fourth in all of Division I basketball. The Crimson Tide averages 1.32 more steals each game than the SEC’s No. 2 team in the category, Auburn.

Tigers’ coach Tony Barbee said his team’s in-state rivals play strong, despite not having a starter bigger than 6-foot-8, 228 pounds.

“They’re physical with your ball-handlers,” Barbee said. “They’re very physical guarding in the post. They’ve got their hands on you, (and) they’re directing you with their hands.

“They’re just a physical team. It’s something a lot of teams try to do, but Alabama has the personnel to do it.”

And that’s a good thing because outside of Green (16.1 ppg), Mitchell (15.7 ppg) and Releford (10.3 ppg), the Tide won’t exactly scare anyone when they have the ball.

“We take a lot of pride in (our defense),” senior guard Charvez Davis said. “Our coach tells us every day our offense is not going to beat anybody, (so) we’ve got to rely on defense.

“We just try to take our opponents out of their offense as much as possible.”

MIDWEEK SEC PICKS

I whiffed on UF-UK last weekend, but I did pick the “upset special” of Mississippi over Alabama correctly. So, here goes: Florida 60, Alabama 56; Kentucky 78, Vanderbilt 70; Mississippi 69, Auburn 55; Georgia 80, LSU 66; Mississippi State 72, Arkansas 71; Tennessee 82, South Carolina 69.

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR/ANSWERS FROM

Kentucky


1. Kentucky’s standout freshman point guard Brandon Knight was 4-of-5 from three-point range when these two teams met in the O’Connell Center (though the one he missed would have been the game-winner). Will he be as effective from deep this time around?

Answer: Knight was 2-of-3 from behind the arc this time and finished with 16 points.

2. Chandler Parsons said that continuing to play will not worsen his deep thigh bruise, though the pain is something he said he probably will have to deal with the rest of the season. That said, Parsons played 30 minutes 43 hours earlier against Georgia, so there may be some additional soreness on Saturday because he hasn’t had much rest. Will that affect his play?

Answer: It sure didn’t look like it. Parsons finished with 15 points, a team-high eight rebounds and a game-high seven assists. He also turned the ball over just once in his 37 minutes.

3. Statistically, the first game between these two teams was about as even as you can find. Both teams grabbed 32 rebounds, had six steals and blocked five shots. The assist totals also were close (15-14 UF). How will things play out this time?

Answer: Kentucky outrebounded UF, 34-32, with Josh Harrellson and Terrence Jones combining for 21. The league leader in offensive rebounds, Harrellson pulled down six of those. Florida had three steals to UK’s one, while the Wildcats outblocked the Gators, 7-1. UF had 18 assists to Kentucky’s 12.

4. Alex Tyus, Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and Vernon Macklin combined to go 14-for-14 from the foul line in the first meeting with the Wildcats, as UF was 18-for-22 as a team. In a not-so-friendly environment, can Florida as efficient this time around on the freebies?

Answer: The Gators made 10-of-13 from the foul line with Walker (5-for-5) and Boynton (2-for-2) not missing.

5. Two SEC player of the year candidates did not shoot well in the first meeting. Kentucky forward Terrence Jones made just 7-of-18 shots, while UF point guard Erving Walker had his worst shooting game of the season (1-for-9). Will the Wildcats and Gators get more efficient shooting this time around from their leading scorers?

Answer: It was a similar story for both standouts. Jones was 4-of-11 for eight points, while Walker was 2-for-12 (1-for-6 on three-pointers) for 10 points.

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR

Alabama


1. The Gator crowd was a huge factor in UF’s recent home victories against Tennessee and Kentucky. This is Senior Night for Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons (injured redshirt junior Adam Allen will be honored, too). Will the orange and blue faithful again play a big role in what should be an emotional contest?

2. With a frontline that goes 6-foot-6, 6-8 and 6-8 with no one heavier than 228 pounds, Alabama is a bit on the small side. Florida often likes to go to Macklin early in games, and he often sets the tone for how UF starts on offense. That said, he hasn’t shot well lately (making just 13 of his last 28 shots). Will he turn in around in his final game in the O’Connell Center?

3. Believe it or not, Chandler Parsons is the only usual Gator starter to not have a 20-point game this year. Will this, his final home game, be the night he reaches 20?

4. Alabama’s JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell are one of the SEC’s best duos, combining to average 31.8 points, 14.7 rebounds, 3.45 blocked shots and 3.19 steals. Will the Gators be able to slow Green and Mitchell down, or will the Tide pair rise?

5. Alex Tyus had a strong outing in UF’s 66-65 victory against the Crimson Tide last year in Tuscaloosa. He made 8-of-10 shots for a team-high 19 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a shot. Can the Gators get a similar performance out of Tyus in his final home game in orange and blue?

GAME 29 PREVIEW

No. 14 FLORIDA GATORS (22-6, 11-3)

Position: Players, Height/Weight, Year, 2010-11 statistics

G: Erving Walker,
5-8/171, JR, 14.6 points per game, 3.2 assists per game

G: Kenny Boynton, 6-2/183, SO, 13.5 points per game, 2.4 assists per game

F: Chandler Parsons, 6-10/218, SR, 11.1 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game

F: Alex Tyus, 6-8/220, SR, 8.7 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game

C: Vernon Macklin, 6-10/240, SR, 11.2 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game

Head coach: Billy Donovan (353-145 in 15th season at Florida; 388-165 in 17th season as a head coach)

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (19-9, 11-3)

Position: Players, Height/Weight, Year, 2010-11 statistics

G: Trevor Releford,
6-1/180, FR, 10.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game

G: Charvez Davis, 6-3/186, SR, 7.9 points per game, 2.3 rebounds per game

F: Tony Miller, 6-6/210, SO, 15.7 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game

F: JaMychal Green, 6-8/228, JR, 16.1 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game

F: Chris Hines, 6-8/227, SR, 5.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds per game

Head coach: Anthony Grant (36-24 in 2nd season at Kentucky and 112-49 in five seasons overall)

When: Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m.

Where: Stephen C. O’Connell Center

TV/Radio: ESPNU/Gator Radio Network

Tickets: Visit http://www.gatorzone.com/tickets, call (352) 375-4683 (ex: 6800) or go to the O’Connell Center ticket office in person.

Notable: Alabama leads the all-time series, 73-59, according to Florida. The Crimson Tide record books list the series record as 73-57. … However, UF has won 15-of-18 against the Crimson Tide, dating back to 1999. The Gators won last year’s only meeting between the two teams, 66-65, on Feb. 4, 2010 in Tuscaloosa. … Billy Donovan is 16-5 against Alabama, a total that includes an 8-0 mark at home, as Florida’s coach. … UF is 4-1 against the West this year after going 6-0 last season. The Gators are 54-17 against the West since 2000. … Florida is 13-3 at home this year and is looking for its 14th win in Gainesville for the seventh time in Donovan’s 15 seasons. … Both teams enter the game having won 14-of-17. … Alabama has made 19 NCAA Tournament appearances, all since 1975. … The Crimson Tide has won the conference’s regular-season title seven times and the SEC Tournament six times. From 1989-92, UA won 11 consecutive conference tournament games. … Only Kentucky has more all-time SEC wins than Alabama’s 720. … Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton are combining to score 30.2 points-a-game in SEC play. Both guards have scored in double figures 23 times this year. … Walker, Boynton and Chandler Parsons have combined to make 78 of Florida’s 89 three-pointers in conference play. … Alabama’s 11-3 league mark is the program’s best since the 1986-87 team, led by versatile forward Derrick McKey, won the SEC championship. … Only six of the Crimson Tide’s last 17 opponents have scored at least 60 points in regulation. … In its last three halves of play, UF has dished out 28 assists while turning the ball over just 13 times. … Maligned much of the year for their foul shooting, the Gators are making 73.6 percent of their free throws the last six games. During that span, UF has made 81 foul shots, while opponents have attempted only 66. … The game will be Donovan’s 499th as Florida’s coach. Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant was beside Donovan for 324 of those games, helping UF to a 226-98 record from 1996-2006. … Alabama sophomore swingman Tony Mitchell has scored at least 20 points in five of the last eight games. He is averaging 18.8 ppg over that stretch, which comes out to 27.7-percent of UA’s scoring. Alabama is 7-2 when Mitchell scores at least 20 points. … Crimson Tide guard Trevor Releford is 16-of-18 from the foul line in the final three minutes of games and overtime and has been named the SEC’s freshman of the week twice this season. Releford’s play has meant less and less of former point guard Senario Hillman. The senior, who is second all-time to Terry Coner (174) at Alabama in steals with 169, played just 12 minutes in the Crimson Tide’s loss to Mississippi last Saturday. … Hillman needs just 13 points to join JaMychal Green in Alabama’s 1,000-point club. Green was the 43rd player in Tide history to eclipse that mark. … Crimson Tide senior Chris Hines had a career-high 15 points in Alabama’s 68-63 loss to the Rebels last Saturday. … UA is 3-1 against the SEC East this year. The rest of the West is a combined 8-21 against the East. … Alabama is 1-2 against teams ranked in the AP top 25 this season. The Tide is 3-10 all-time against Florida when the Gators are ranked and are 6-5 all-time when playing a team ranked 14th, like UF. However, Florida is 5-0 all-time against Alabama in Gainesville when the Gators enter the contest ranked. … Sometimes, Florida fans give their team grief about its .344 three-point shooting percentage. Well, imagine following the Crimson Tide, which shoots .300 on threes. Alabama is averaging 4.1 three-pointers-a-game and is one of 44 Division I teams averaging less than five three-pointers-a-game. Only six of those teams have at least 19 wins this year with the Tide being one of them. … Parsons needs 13 rebounds to reach 800 for his career. He surpassed 300 assists when he dished out seven last Saturday at Kentucky to give him 303. He needs 55 points to get to 1,400. … Mitchell leads Alabama with 52 dunks this year. Vernon Macklin’s 23 leads Alex Tyus by one and Parsons by five for the Gator lead. The Crimson Tide has outdunked opponents 109-29 this season. … Walker is exactly 80-for-100 from the foul line in the final three minutes of the game for his career. He is 30-for-40 this year. … UF has made at least one three-pointer in 640 consecutive games. Gator foes have made a shot from deep in 410 straight contests. … Weird stat: Florida has had five 12-0 runs this season, but has not had an 11-0 spurt or a run longer than 12-0. The Gators have had 11 runs of 10-0 in 2010-11. … Boynton enters the contest exactly 150-of-190 (.789) from the foul line for his career. … Boynton needs 45 points to reach 900 for his career. … Macklin needs 27 points to get to 700 in his two seasons as a Gator. … Erik Murphy scored 115 points as a freshman and now has 114 as a sophomore. Also, after attempting no three-pointers last year, Murphy is 8-for-20 (.400) this season. His 15 blocked shots also are nearly double his total of eight from a year ago. … Freshman swingman Casey Prather grabbed the 30th rebound of his young career last Saturday at Kentucky. … Kevin Durant’s cousin, Kendall Durant, is a UA junior. However, he has been out since Dec. 4 with a fractured bone in his left foot. … With one more steal, Tyus will have 50 in his college career. He also needs 57 points to reach 1,300. … Walker needs eight assists to reach 350 for his career. With five more made three-pointers, he will have 200 of those for his career. He surpassed the 1,200-point mark on Saturday at Kentucky. He has 1,201 career points entering the Alabama game. … Scottie Wilbekin recorded two assists at Kentucky to give him 50 this season. He also is five rebounds from 50. … Freshman center Patric Young needs four rebounds to reach 100 for his career. … Alabama enters the contest having outscored opponents 999-640 in the paint this year, a difference of 12.8 ppg this year. The Crimson Tide has yet to be outscored in the paint in a game this year. … Alabama’s last five opponents are averaging 18 turnovers-a-game. … Green’s 19 career double-doubles leads all SEC players. Oddly, the Tide is just 9-10 in those games. Parsons tops UF with 13 double-doubles (six this year). … Former Alabama players have won nine NBA championships with seven coming from Robert Horry. … Neither the Crimson Tide nor the Gators have been called for a 10-second violation this season. … Parsons is averaging 12.8 ppg and 10.0 rpg his last nine games. … Alabama has drawn just 11 charges this season, three less than Walker and Young’s combined total. … UF’s Adam Allen is expected to take part in the Senior Night ceremonies. A redshirt junior, he has battled knee injuries his entire Gator career and had three operations. He said before the season that if he couldn’t get healthy enough to play this year he won’t try next. On Monday, he acknowledged his basketball career is finished.

PAST EXAMS AND GATOR(GR)ADES

Game 1: Florida 77, UNC Wilmington 60. Gator Player of the Game: Scottie Wilbekin (3 points, 5 assists, 4 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Chad Tomko (15 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B– . Record: 1-0.

Game 2: Ohio State 93, Florida 75. Gator Player of the Game: Vernon Macklin (12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block); Opposing Players of the Game: David Lighty (26 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) and Jared Sullinger (26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C. Record: 1-1.

Game 3: Florida 105, North Carolina A&T 55. Gator Player of the Game: Will Yeguete (7 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Thomas Coleman (8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A– . Record: 2-1.

Game 4: Florida 61, Morehead State 55. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (13 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Kenneth Faried (20 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocked shots. Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C– . Record: 3-1.

Game 5: Florida 79, Florida Atlantic 63. Gator Players of the Game: Alex Tyus (19 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist) and Kenny Boynton (21 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound); Opposing Player of the Game: Greg Gantt (17 points, 2 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B-. Record: 4-1.

Game 6: Florida 55, Florida State 51. Gator Player of the Game: Erik Murphy (10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 blocked shot); Opposing Player of the Game: Michael Snaer (15 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 5-1.

Game 7: Central Florida 57, Florida 54. Gator Player of the Game: Vernon Macklin (20 points on 10-of-11 shooting, 8 rebounds); Opposing Player of the Game: Marcus Jordan (18 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C-. Record: 5-2.

Game 8: Florida 67, American 48. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Troy Brewer (17 points, 2 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 6-2.

Game 9: Florida 65, Kent State 52. Gator Players of the Game: Alex Tyus (20 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist) and Vernon Macklin (19 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 1 steal, 1 assist); Opposing Player of the Game: Carlton Guyton (14 points, 4-of-6 on three-pointers, 3 rebounds, 3 assists). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 7-2.

Game 10: Florida 57, Kansas State 44. Gator Players of the Game: Kenny Boynton (15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 1 assist, helped limit Pullen to 6-of-17 shooting); Opposing Player of the Game: Jacob Pullen (19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 8-2.

Game 11: Jacksonville 71, Florida 68 (OT). Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (game-high 21 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound); Opposing Player of the Game: Keith McDougald (team-high 18 points – 15 in the second half/overtime, 2 steals, 1 rebound). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D+. Record: 8-3.

Game 12: Florida 66, Radford 55. Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (game-high 20 points, including 5-of-7 on 3s, 3 assists, 2 steals); Opposing Player of the Game: Johnathan Edwards (team-high 15 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C-. Record: 9-3.

Game 13: Florida 71, Xavier 67. Gator Player of the Game: Kenny Boynton (16 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal); Opposing Player of the Game: Tu Holloway (game-high 26 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 10-3.

Game 14: Florida 84, Rhode Island 59. Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (18 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot); Opposing Player of the Game: Delroy James (game-high 23 points, 6 rebounds). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 11-3.

Game 15: Florida 77, Mississippi 71. Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, becomes 47th Gator to record 1,000 career points); Opposing Player of the Game: Chris Warren (20 points, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 rebounds, 1 blocked shot). Buddy’s Gator(Gr)ade: B+. Record: 12-3 (1-0 in the SEC).

Game 16: Florida 81, Tennessee 75 (OT). Gator Player of the Game: Alex Tyus (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 1 steal); Opposing Players of the Game: Cameron Tatum (game-high 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal) and Tobias Harris (18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 13-3 (2-0).

Game 17: South Carolina 72, Florida 69 Gator Player of the Game: Patric Young (career-high 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 1 steal, 2-for-2 FTs in 19 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Bruce Ellington (game-high 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4-for-4 on FTs, 1 turnover in 30 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D+. Record: 13-4 (2-1).

Game 18: Florida 45, Auburn 40 Gator Player of the Game: No award given; Opposing Player of the Game: Earnest Ross (11 points, 3-of-4 three-pointers, 3 rebounds, game-high 3 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: D. Record: 14-4 (3-1).

Game 19: Florida 75, Arkansas 43 Gator Players of the Game: Kenny Boynton (20 points, 4-of-7 three-pointers, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers, held Razorbacks’ leading scorer, Rotnei Clark, shotless) and Chandler Parsons (career-high 15 rebounds, 5 points, game-high 5 assists); Opposing Player of the Game: Delvon Johnson (12 points, team-high 7 rebounds, 1 blocked shot). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 15-4 (4-1).

Game 20: Florida 104, Georgia 91 (2 OT) Gator Players of the Game: Vernon Macklin (career-high 23 points, 10-of-15 from floor, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), Kenny Boynton (game-high 24 points, 12-of-12 FTs, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) and Erving Walker (game-high 24 points, game-tying 3 at end of first OT, 5 assists, 4 rebounds); Opposing Player of the Game: Trey Thompkins (20 points, game-high 13 rebounds, game-high 3 blocked shots). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 16-4 (5-1).

Game 21: Mississippi State 71, Florida 64 Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (team-high 18 points, 5 rebounds, team-high 4 assists, 2 turnovers); Opposing Player of the Game: Dee Bost (game-high 24 points, game-high 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C. Record: 16-5 (5-2).

Game 22: Florida 65, Vanderbilt 61 (OT) Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (team-high 18 points, game-high 11 rebounds with 4 offensive, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 turnover in 39 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: John Jenkins (game-high 22 points, 6 rebounds 1 steal, 1 turnover in 42 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 17-5 (6-2).

Game 23: Florida 70, Kentucky 68 Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (team-high 17 points, game-high 12 rebounds with 3 offensive, 5 assists, 1 blocked shot, no turnovers in 37 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Brandon Knight (game-high 24 points, 4-of-5 three-pointers, 6-for-6 FTs, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 blocked shot, 4 turnovers in 36 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A. Record: 18-5 (7-2).

Game 24: Florida 79, South Carolina 60 Gator Players of the Game: Chandler Parsons (14 points, game-high 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal) and Erving Walker (season- and game-high 25 points on just 9 shots – making seven, including 4-of-5 three-pointers, 3 assists, 2 steals, just 1 turnover in 36 minutes) ; Opposing Player of the Game: Bruce Ellington (team-high 14 points, 5 rebounds, co-team-high 3 assists, co-team-high 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: A-. Record: 19-5 (8-2).

Game 25: Florida 61, Tennessee 60 Gator Players of the Game: Erving Walker (team-high 16 points – including 9-for-9 from the foul line, 3 assists, 1 rebound) and Alex Tyus (10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals) ; Opposing Player of the Game: Scotty Hopson (game-high 22 points, 3-of-3 on three-pointers, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 20-5 (9-2).

Game 26: Florida 68, LSU 61 Gator Player of the Game: Erving Walker (co-team-high 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal); Opposing Player of the Game: Ralston Turner (game-high 18 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 rebound). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: C+. Record: 21-5 (10-2).

Game 27: Florida 71, Georgia 62 Gator Player of the Game: Chandler Parsons (16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot, 0 turnovers); Opposing Player of the Game: Travis Leslie (game-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 4-of-4 foul shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B. Record: 22-5 (11-2).

Game 28: Kentucky 76, Florida 68 Gator Players of the Game: Chandler Parsons (15 points, team-high 8 rebounds, game-high 1 turnover in 37 minutes) and Kenny Boynton (team-high 21 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover in 29 minutes); Opposing Player of the Game: Darius Miller (game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 4-of-5 foul shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocked shots, 1 turnover in 35 minutes). Patton’s Gator(Gr)ade: B-. Record: 22-6 (11-3).

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