Sunday February 23, 2014 Basket Blog: Gators at No. 1, Kasey & Casey's health, Frazier's late 3s, etc.
Updated: 5:50pm, February 23
Updated: 5:50pm, February 23
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No one can say for certain how the ballots will shake out, but there’s a very real possibility -- if not likelihood -- that Florida, winner of 19 straight after Saturday's 75-71 victory at Mississippi, will be No. 1 when the Associated Press and ESPN/Coaches polls are released Monday.
It would mark just the fifth time in school history the Gators rose to the top of the polls -- with 10 weeks spent there, all told -- not counting the two times Florida ended the 2006 and '07 seasons as national champions.
The first time Florida was ever voted No. 1 came Feb. 3, 2003. The reign lasted all of one week. As timing would have, the program's first game at the top of the pools sent the Gators to a place very familiar with the top of the polls: Kentucky. The Wildcats, led by Keith Bogans and Gerald Fitch, smashed UF 70-55.
The Gators returned to the top of the polls the following fall -- Dec. 8, 2003, to be exact -- thanks to big win over Arizona in Springfield, Mass. Again, the stay lasted just a week. Florida lost 69-68 at home to Maryland on Dec. 10 and 73-65 at Louisville three days later. The next week, UF slid all the way to No. 15.
The next time the Gators got there was with that first national championship at the end of the 2006 season, courtesy of Joakim Noah and friends. They began ’06-07 at No. 1 and enjoyed it for three weeks before losing against Kansas in Las Vegas. UF got back up there again on Jan. 15, 2007, only to be knocked off five weeks later at unranked Vanderbilt (pictured right) which started a run of three losses over four games.
Now comes the rub, if you're into superstitions or irony or stuff like that.
The Gators (25-2, 14-0) face unranked Vanderbilt (15-11, 7-7) at Nashville Tuesday night.
Florida went into the ’07 postseason ranked No. 3 and, of course ended back on top.
UF's overall record during its combined 10 weeks ranked No. 1 over those four stops at No. 1 over those three seasons: 15-5
LITTLE KASEY AND BIG CASEY
Freshman backup point guard Kasey Hill, sidelined the past two games with a groin strain suffered last weekend at Kentucky, sat out Sunday's practice and probably won't play Tuesday when the Gators face the Commodores. Hill dressed out for Saturday's game at Ole Miss, but only went through pre-game warmups. UF trainer David "Duke" Werner said Hill will probably do a little bit more Monday, but the team plans to be cautious with HIll to avoid a setback.
Werner, meanwhile, had double-duty in the training room Sunday.
UF scoring leader Casey Prather, the senior forward averaging 15.4 points per game, took the day off from practice and spent it receiving treatment on both his ankle and knee. Prather has battled through some aches this season and Saturday had an uncharacteristically tough day from the floor. He started the day ranked fourth in the nation in field-goal percentage (.624), but Prather hit just three of his 10 shots to go with five rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in 27 minutes.
Prather figures to back at practice Monday and definitely will play at Nashville, which is about 125 miles from his hometown of Jackson, Tenn.
Patric Young was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Team last week, placed on the third team for his 3.37 GPA in telecommunications. In a few weeks, Young will see where or if he’s placed on the All-Southeastern Conference team for his on-the-court performance. Who is the last UF player to be honored as an Academic All-American and as an All-SEC player? Answer below in "Free Throws" section.
FORMER GATOR UPDATE
Corey Brewer has had a pretty good February.
The 6-foot-9 Minnesota Timberwolves forward is averaging 11.6 points per game for the season, but he’s at 14.4 per game this month, a run that includes a 26-point effort against Portland, which the T-Wolves face again Sunday night.
Minnesota takes a three-game winning streak into that game. Brewer has averaged 15 points over those three games on nearly 53-percent shooting.
With Kevin Love (quad), Kevin Martin (thumb), and Nikola Pekovic (ankle) dealing with injuries, Brewer has taken on an expanded role with the Wolves, particularly on offense, and it comes at a time when Minnesota is trying to inch its way into the Western Conference playoff picture. Entering the week, the Wolves are six games back of the Dallas Mavericks for the eighth and final spot.
Regardless of what happens with Auburn/BC, it’s very possible Arizona is still the best team in the land.— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) February 20, 2014
CHARTING THE GATORS
Michael Frazier II is not shooting 3-pointers like he did before the start of the SEC season. In 12 non-conference games, Frazier went 30-for-60 from the arc, with his 50-percent accuracy ranking among the best in the nation. Through 14 SEC games, the sophomore from Tampa is still UF’s best shooter at 38.2 percent, but that rates just eighth in the league. The Gators, though, will take the tradeoff as long Frazier, who went 5-for-10 at Ole Miss, keeps puncturing opponents with his long-range darts at the most crucial times late in games.
Check out what Frazier has done in the last six at crunch time.
Situation: Tied at 45 with less than 10 minutes to play.
His start: Frazier starts 1-for-7 from 3-point range
His moment: Frazier hits three straight 3s in less than 2 minutes; Gators go up 6.
Final: UF wins 68-58 (Frazier: 14 points, 4 of 11 from arc)
Situation: Crimson Tide closes UF's 15-point lead to 8 with 5:36 to go.
His start: Frazier starts 2-for-6 from 3.
His moment: Frazier hits a 3 just 10 seconds after Bama cuts lead to single digits.
Final: UF wins 78-69 (Frazier: 14 points, 3 of 8 from arc)
Opponent: at Tennessee
Situation: Gators take 7-point lead with 10:30 to go, but go next 7 minutes without a FG.
His start: Frazier makes just 2 of his first 8 shots.
His moment: Volunteers cut lead to one, but Frazier hits a 3 at 3:32 mark to end scoring drought.
Final: UF wins 67-58 (Frazier: 11 points, 3 of 6 from arc)
Opponent: at Kentucky
Situation: Gators cling to 2-point lead at Rupp Arena with just over 4 minutes to go.
His start: Frazier misses his first four shots of the game.
His moment: Dorian Finney-Smith gathers offensive rebound, kicks ball to Frazier, who swishes 3-pointer with 4:16 left and 5-point lead.
Final: UF 69-59 (Frazier: 3 points, 1 of 4 from arc)
Situation: Gators down by 1 inside a minute to play.
His start: Frazier 2-for-8 from 3-point line, sprained his left wrist early in 2nd half.
His moment: Frazier hits 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to give Florida the lead.
Final: UF 71-66 (Frazier: 9 points, 3 of 9 from arc)
Opponent: at Ole Miss
Situation: Gators lead by 5 inside four minutes to go.
His start: Frazier was a crisp 4-for-9 from 3, but just 1-for-4 in 2nd half.
His moment: Frazier swishes a 3 with 3:17 left to push Florida ahead by 8.
Final: UF 75-71 (Frazier: 17 points, 5 of 10 from arc)
Over the past six games, senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin is averaging 18.7 points on 41.5-percent shooting from the floor, 40.5 from 3-point range and 82.7 percent from free-throw line. ... And as long we're on the subject of free throws, the Gators over the last six games have hit 111 of 146. That's 76 percent. Young, who early in the season, was well before 50 percent from the line, has sank 19 of his last 24 (that's 79.1 percent) and has worked his way up to 68.8 percent in SEC play. ... With the win at Ole Miss, the Gators have now beaten every SEC team in their most recent game against each respective team. ... UF’s seven straight road wins are tied for the fourth-longest streak in the nation, behind Wichita State (11), Stephen F. Austin and Saint Louis (both 10). ... Incoming 2014-15 freshman Chris Chiozza, the 5-11 point guard from Memphis (Tenn.) White Station, has helped lead his 29-1 team to the Class AAA state semifinals. Donovan was asked about the kid by a Memphis television reporter who made the drive Saturday to nearby Oxford. “We’re losing Scottie and we needed a point guard,” Donovan said. “What I like about Chris, he’s a basketball player who just knows how to play the game. He’s got really good speed, can score, has good vision and is very quick. He plays in a really good high school program and was on a really good AAU program in the summer. We’re excited about him.” ... Auburn senior guard Chris Denson dished a huge assist to the O’Connell Center crowd for its part in Wednesday night’s rally and win. “It was a big factor,” Denson said. “That was the loudest crowd I’ve ever been in in SEC play.” ... Trivia answer: Matt Bonner was a three-time Academic All-American (in 2001-03) and two-time All-SEC player (second team in ’02 and first team in ’03).