Florida women's basketball set for SEC tournament play

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.

When the regular season has not gone as well as hoped, the postseason offers a chance to start anew.

Such is the case for the Florida women's basketball team, which opens play at noon Thursday at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.

UF (17-13, 6-10), the No. 9 seed, will square off against No. 8 seed Arkansas (18-11, 6-10), a team the Gators beat 69-58 last Thursday in their final home game in the O'Connell Center. Sunday, the Razorbacks bounced back at home with a 93-52 drubbing of last-place Ole Miss while UF dropped its regular-season finale at No. 14 South Carolina, 67-56.

"Obviously we're excited for tournament time," said head coach Amanda Butler. "It's the best tournament in the country, and I think when you look at the matchups and everything that has happened the past few weeks in our league, there's just not going to be any other place to be to watch great women's basketball.

"I think our game with Arkansas is a big part of that as well. They did a great job against Ole Miss and I'm sure had a lot of fire in their bellies after leaving Gainesville. It was a tough matchup. It always seems to be real intense between us and Arkansas."

Thursday's contest will be the 129th career game for All-SEC post player Jennifer George, UF's only senior, tying her for the No. 1 spot all-time with ex-Gator Tamara Stocks (1997-2001).

With this being the first postseason experience for true freshmen Sidney Moss, Christin Mercer and January Miller as well as redshirt freshman Carlie Needles, Butler will look to her most experienced starters — George, junior point guard Jaterra Bonds and junior forward Lily Svete — for leadership.

The winner of Thursday's matchup draws No. 1 seed and eighth-ranked Tennessee (23-6, 14-2) in the quarterfinals at noon on Friday. In their only meeting during the regular season, Florida took the Lady Vols to overtime in the O-Dome before losing a 78-75 thriller.

Jim Harvin is a Gainesville Sun correspondent.

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