Gators learn from their first loss


Florida's Al Horford (42) battles for a loose ball with Tennessee's Andre Patterson during their basketball game Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006, in Knoxville, Tenn.

AP Photo/Wade Payne
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Through the highs of a school-record 17-game winning streak to start the season, sophomore forward Joakim Noah knew there were areas where Florida was vulnerable.
They were harped on in practice each time Noah or one of his teammates forgot to box out.
"There were little things addressed a while ago that we needed to work on, and we didn't do that to the best of our ability," Noah said. "Sometimes when you lose, you learn the hard way."
No. 5 Florida (17-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) will look to improve protecting the defensive glass when it plays at South Carolina tonight. Although the Gators own a nine-game winning streak in the series between the two teams, they come into the matchup smarting. Florida suffered its first loss of the season Saturday night at Tennessee, a numbing 80-76 loss that was decided in the final 45 seconds.
Tennessee outrebounded Florida 40-35 Saturday night, including eight offensive rebounds in the second half that proved crucial to the outcome. For the game, the Vols converted 15 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points.
"We allowed way too many offensive rebounds," Noah said. "We're a young team and sometimes you have to learn through experience."
After the Tennessee game, Florida forward Al Horford suggested some of the rebounding problems were a result of the forwards stepping up to stop Tennessee's guards from penetrating to the basket.
"I don't think Al is too off-base because there were some times when he was on the perimeter on guys," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I think there were two problems with our rebounding. One, I didn't feel like our guards did a very good job blocking out. And our guards got beat off the dribble, which forced our big guys to rotate and give help.
"Our guards need to look at this film and they need to take a level of responsibility and accountability. There were a couple of very key situations where our guards made no attempt to even try to block out. The shot went up and they were watching the flight of the ball and there's guys running by their ear, to the rim, offensive rebounding."
Sophomore point guard Taurean Green acknowledged there were some lapses by the guards in defense and rebounding.
"It was just mental breakdowns," Green said. "We missed box-out assignments. They got a couple of put-backs. We just missed assignments, we left guys open for easy layups, easy baskets. That's just stuff we have to learn from and carry over to South Carolina and make sure that doesn't happen."
South Carolina (10-8, 1-4) ranks seventh in the conference in rebounding margin at plus-1.5. Like the Gators, South Carolina is coming off a heart-breaker, losing Saturday at Kentucky 80-78 on a 3-pointer by Rajon Rondo with 1.4 seconds remaining.
"We're probably not catching them at a great time, but our guys want to win too," South Carolina coach Dave Odom said.
For Florida to win, it must get back to the basics on the boards.
"When you are on the court sometimes, you just have to pay attention to detail," Noah said. "It is harder, but at the same time, you don't want to learn through a loss. You don't want to, but sometimes you do."
You can reach Kevin Brockway by calling 374-5054 or by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com.
Brewer will be a game-time decision Florida sophomore forward Corey Brewer's sprained right ankle has significantly improved, enough that he has been upgraded to a game-day decision.
Brewer took part in limited drills Tuesday after his ankle responded well to treatment Monday night. Brewer suffered a lateral right ankle sprain in Saturday's loss at Tennessee.
Brewer is off crutches and traveled with the team Tuesday night to South Carolina. His status will be determined in today's pregame shootaround.
Brewer has started every game since his freshman season. This season, Brewer ranks second on the team in average scoring (13.6), rebounding (5.7) and assists (4.5). If Brewer can't play, the starting job may go to one of the two freshman guards - Walter Hodge or David Huertas.
TODAY'S GAME PREVIEW on 6C No. 5 FLORIDA at SOUTH CAROLINA at 8 p.m. Sun Sports ALSO INSIDE
  • Tennessee fined $5,000, 4C
  • Kentucky, No. 6 Villanova and No. 21 Georgetown get road wins, 5C
    Vols must pay $5K Tennessee was fined $5,000 by the Southeastern Conference for violating the league's access to competition policy.
    A league rule states that "at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area." Tennessee students stormed the court at Thompson-Boling Arena followings its 80-76 upset of then-No. 2 Florida on Saturday night.
    "I understand the exuberance of the moment but the security and protection of our student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans is our primary concern," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a released statement.
    Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was upset that Tennessee officials didn't do more to prevent the event from happening.
    The policy imposes financial penalties for violations in the sports of football, men's basketball and women's basketball. Subsequent fines are $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for a third offense.
    Tennessee is the third school to be fined under the policy, joining South Carolina and Vanderbilt last season. The rule was instituted December 2004.
    Kevin Brockway can be reached at (352) 374-5054 or by e-mail at brockwk@gvillesun.com
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