FLORIDA MEN'S BASKETBALL
Gators remember loss to Jacksonville
Published: Friday, November 25, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 9:59 p.m.
UF was upset in overtime last season, 71-68.
Who: No. 10 Florida Gators (3-1) vs. Jacksonville Dolphins (2-2)
When: Tonight, 7
Where: O'Connell Center, Gainesville
Gainesville TV: FSN
Gainesville radio: AM-850
Florida sophomore center Patric Young remembered the empty feeling following last season's upset loss to Jacksonville.
Young, a Jacksonville native, had played pickup basketball with several Jacksonville players the summer before. So it was even worse when the Jacksonville players texted Young shortly after the game ended to rub in fresh wounds.
“I didn't text any of them back,” Young said. “That's how mad I was.”
Florida will play Jacksonville tonight at the O'Connell Center for the first time since its 71-68 overtime loss to the Dolphins at home last season. And while some of the players have changed, the memory remains clear to returning players who were part of UF's first loss to Jacksonville in 16 years.
“It was a huge wakeup call.” said Florida senior point guard Erving Walker. “Basically last year when we lost coach said our backs were against the wall. We just beat Kansas State and we didn't handle success well. But I think we learned from that last year and we don't want to let that happen again.”
Walker missed a 3-pointer against Jacksonville that could have won the game at the end of regulation and missed another 3-pointer that could have tied the score at the end of overtime.
“Anytime you lose on your homecourt, it's embarrassing,” Walker said.
But the loss also set the stage for a more focused effort from the Gators the rest of the season. After the Jacksonville loss, Florida won 17 of its next 21 games to earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“It helped us learn we can't take anything for granted,” Young said.
Walker recalled the practice the day after the Jacksonville loss as intense.
“Coach wasn't playing around,” Walker said. “We didn't have time to linger. We just got right back after it and put it behind us.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan said he expects Jacksonville “to have our guys' full attention” based on last season's loss. Jacksonville returns all five of its starters from a team that finished 20-12 last season.
“I'm not a big revenge guy,” Donovan said. “We're not getting that game back. In the history of the record books, Jacksonville will have always beat us in 2010 or whenever the date was here. No one is taking that one away. But it is definitely a sign and understanding that this is a basketball team that's more than capable of beating us because they've done it already.”
But Young said the loss from last season could serve as motivation in tonight's matchup.
“We can't take back from last year, but a lot of the guys have that game in mind from last year and want to win big,” Young said. “But just taking a win would be good enough in my book.”
FREE THROWS: Young had his eye checked out by doctors and is 100 percent after he was poked in the eye late in the first half against Wright State. He sat out the first nine minutes of the second half of the Wright State game before returning. Young suffered a laceration near the edge of his right eye and is wearing protective goggles in practice. He may wear the goggles for tonight's game. “‘I got them from Horace Grant,” Young joked before Wednesday's practice. … Donovan said he is still trying to work on a more consistent bench rotation to get forwards Casey Prather and Cody Larson more into the flow of the game. Larson played just three minutes in the second half against Wright State with no points and one turnover. “I believe in Cody,” Donovan said. “We need his physical presence in there.”
FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS
G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Jr. 19.0 ppg, 3.0 apg
G Erving Walker 5-8 Sr. 10.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg
G Bradley Beal 6-3 Fr. 16.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg
F Erik Murphy 6-10 Jr. 10.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
C Patric Young 6-9 So. 9.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg
JACKSONVILLE PROBABLE STARTERS
G Keith McDougald 6-1 So. 10.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
G Russell Powell 5-9 Jr. 10.8 ppg, 5.8 apg
G Chris Davis 6-2 So. 6.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg
F Glenn Powell 6-5 Jr. 12.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Delwan Graham 6-7 Sr.. 12.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg
Notes: Florida is 28-5 all-time against Jacksonville. Florida coach Billy Donovan is 9-1 against Jacksonville, with the lone defeat coming in a 71-68 overtime loss last season. … Florida has made 10 or more 3-pointers in each of its first four games this season. The Gators are averaging 11.8 3-pointers made per season while shooting 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. … Jacksonville opened its season with a 79-67 loss at Florida State. … The Dolphins are forcing 14.8 turnovers per game, but turning it over 16.8 times per game. Florida is averaging 8.3 steals per game. … UF junior guard Mike Rosario is averaging 12.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg off the bench.
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or email@example.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.