Sunday March 9, 2014 'Basket Blog:' Patric's candid statement, Senior Day video, SEC Tourney sked, Cody Larson, etc.
Updated: 9:25pm, March 9
Updated: 9:25pm, March 9
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Last October, Patric Young made some news (and rattled some metaphorical rims) in the Commonwealth State with his unfiltered remarks about Kentucky’s “one-and-done” basketball business model.
The scene was Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., the annual preseason dog-and-pony show to preview the upcoming basketball campaign. The topic of yet another UK freshman class deemed among the greatest of all-time was put to Florida’s senior center and two-time SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Young happened to start for a team coming off an SEC championship the year. That team won the league over another class of young Wildcats proclaimed to be one of the greatest ever.
That team went to the NIT. Even lost in the first round.
So there was Young, surrounded by tape recorders and brimming with confidence about the prospects of the Gators' season and a senior-laden team out to defend its league championship.
Facing another collection of big-name prep All-Americans did not impress him.
"I hope they think that they can just walk on the court and beat everybody," Young said. “As soon as they step on the court and play a real top team, they’re going to see that it's not just a walk in the park. One-and-done is not for everybody.”
Those words rang truer than ever Saturday, as the No. 1-ranked Gators bludgeoned Kentucky 84-65 behind a senior class that accounted for 51 points and left the O’Connell Center with the most-lopsided defeat of the Wildcats in the 77-year history of the series and the first 18-0 record ever posted by SEC play.
It’s entirely possible that Florida (29-2) and Kentucky (22-9) will play again this week in the SEC Tournament at Atlanta, and the Wildcats -- stacked with the most talented, deepest roster in the conference, according to UF coach Billy Donovan -- could indeed have the last word.
But for now, give Young, who played one of his finest games of the year (season-high 18 points, 7 rebounds), a nod for speaking his mind and backing it up. He was already a five-star ambassador for not only Florida basketball but college basketball in general. With candid "takes," like the one in Birmingham, he's well on his way to applying that telecommunications degree and his goal of being a TV talking head.
SENIOR SALUTE IN MOVING PICTURES
If you weren’t among the 12,604 at the O’Dome Saturday, then you didn't the pre-game ceremony honoring UF’s senior class of Young, Will Yeguete, Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin.
But GatorVision had your back.
SEC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Here’s how the SEC Tournament slate shapes up, with the Gators not even leaving for Atlanta -- even if they did go, they couldn’t get on the Georgia Dome court to shoot, anyway -- until after practice Thursday. Florida, of course, is the No. 1 seed, followed by Kentucky (2), Georgia (3) and Tennessee (4), each of which get byes through the first two rounds and into Friday’s quarterfinals.
Higher seeds are listed first.
Game 1: Auburn (14-15, 6-12) vs South Carolina (12-19, 5-13), 7 p.m.
Game 2: Vanderbilt (15-15, 7-11) vs Mississippi State (13-18, 3-15), 9:30 (est.)
Game 3: Missouri (21-10, 9-9) vs Texas A&M (17-14, 8-10), 1 p.m.
Game 4: Arkansas (21-10, 10-8) vs Game 1 winner, 3:30 p.m. (est.)
Game 5: LSU (18-12) vs Alabama (13-18, 7-11), 7 p.m.
Game 6: Ole Miss (18-13, 9-9) vs Game 2 winner, 9:30 (est).
Game 7: Florida (29-2, 18-0) vs Game 3 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 8: Tennessee (20-11, 11-7) vs Game 4 winner, 3:30 (est.)
Game 9: Kentucky (22-9, 12-6) vs Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 10: Georgia (18-12, 12-6) vs Game 6 winner, 9:30 (est.)
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs Game 8 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs Game 10 winner, 3:30 (est.)
Championship Game, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Florida 2013-14 became just the third team in SEC history to win the league’s regular-season title by at least six games. Who were the others? Answer below in “Free Throws” section.
FORMER GATOR UPDATE
Chicago’s Joakim Noah had a second triple-double in three games and Memphis point guard Nick Calathes was named NBA Rookie of the Month. Good work, fellas.
But since so much of the week focused on the Florida seniors, it seemed appropriate to recognize the fifth member of that 2010 signing class.
Cody Larson, a center/forward from South Dakota, arrived at UF along with Prather, Wilbekin, Young and Yeguete, but stuck aroundfor just two seasons before transferring to South Dakota State in 2012.
Now a fourth-year junior, Larson is averaging 13.4 points per game (hitting 52 percent from the floor, 69 from the free-throw line) and 6.9 rebounds for SDSU. He has five double-doubles this season, including a career-best game of 24 points and 10 boards in a win back in November against Howard.
SDSU, the Jackrabbits, was 18-11, with wins in eight of the last nine games, heading into Sunday night’s Summit League Tournament quarterfinal against Western Illinois in Larson’s hometown of Sioux Falls.
Larson (something of a fifth Beatle, you could say) was extremely close to his UF freshmen classmates and remains in touch with them.
And you just know he felt good for those guys on Saturday.
Nothing quite like senior day and your last game in the O'Dome...let's go boys #gators— Erik Murphy (@e_murphy31) March 8, 2014
CHARTING THE GATORS
They won their 113th game together, but for further context here's a look at some of the UF seniors' individual numbers (which figure to swell in the coming weeks). The goal, obviously, is to pad that 113 and top the school record of 117 victories over four years, a mark set by guard Walter Hodge from '05-06 to '08-09.
Games/Starts Mins/Avg Points Rebs Assists
Patric 142/99 3,423/24.1 1,216 801 112
Scottie 135/56 3,188/21.6 842 278 393
Will 119/51 2,176/18.2 485 589 103
Casey 119/31 1,793/15.1 698 343 96
Totals 515/237 10,580/20.5 3,241 2,011 704
A couple weeks ago, the Gators were having trouble hitting 3-point shots. The last three games, they're a combined 33-for-69, which converts to 47.8 percent. UF won those games by a combined 63 points. ... Florida’s 19-point margin over UK was the biggest for the Gators in a series that dates to 1928. Among their 35 previous all-time wins, UF had beaten UK four times by 17 and twice by 18 (in 1968 and ’87), but never by 19. It was also just the second time Florida swept the season series by double-digits. The Gators won by 10 in Lexington last month. ... My good friend Mike Bianchi, columnist for The Orlando Sentinel, swooped in Saturday and cranked out a pretty good piece sizing up Billy D and his place in the SEC. ... Michael Frazier II’s 11 makes from 3-point range at South Carolina were the most at Colonial Life Arena since Lee Humphrey went 7-for-8 from deep in an 84-50 blowout of the Gamecocks in 2007. Frazier, of course, is one of the reasons the Gators are so red hot from deep lately. Over the last five games, he's 25-for-48. That's 52.1 percent. Yeah, that'll stretch a defense and open the lane. ... Trivia answer: Kentucky had six-game cushions in the SEC final standings twice. The Wildcats of ’95-96 went 16-0 and won the league by six games over Mississippi State, only to lose to the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament title game; UK ’11-12 went 16-0, which was six games better than Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida, but the Wildcats again fell prey in the league tournament, losing to Vandy in the final. Worth noting: Both of those Kentucky teams went on to win national championships.