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Georgia-native Christin Mercer and the Gators practiced at the Gwinnett Center on Wednesday.

Wednesday March 6, 2013Women's Hoops Set for SEC Tournament vs. Arkansas on Thursday at Noon

Duluth, GA

Georgia-native Christin Mercer and the Gators practiced at the Gwinnett Center on Wednesday.

Florida plays Arkansas in the second round of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament held at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.


The ninth-seeded Gators (17-13, 6-10 SEC) and eighth-seeded Razorbacks (18-11, 6-10 SEC) will play the initial game of second day at the 14-team event (although this year it’s a 13-team event) on Thursday, March 7, with tip-off scheduled for Noon ET. The winner meets top-seeded Tennessee (23-6, 14-3 SEC) on Friday at Noon ET.


“This is the best conference tournament in the country,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “When you look at the results throughout the course of the year, there isn’t any other place to be to watch great women’s basketball. Our game with Arkansas is a part of that, as well.”


Florida defeated Arkansas 69-58 on February 28 - exactly seven days ago - in the only regular-season between the two programs.


Junior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) scored a game-high 18 points and helped the Gators present their lone senior Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) a win in the final regular-season home game of her career.         The visiting Razorbacks tied the game with 4:27 remaining in regulation, but UF closed out the game on a 14-3 run to clinch their second straight victory. Freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) also finished in double-figures, registering 14 points with seven rebounds and six assists. George recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, in addition to three assists, three blocks and two steals.


“It was less than a week ago when we played. It comes down to this time of year when you’re playing a team for the second or even the third time in a season,” Butler said. “Your will to execute and how determined you’ll be to do the things you do versus what your opponent is going to do. Every team knows each other really well at this point.


“We’re looking are our game last week against Arkansas and trying to learn even more lessons than we did immediately afterwards,” Butler continued. “I’m sure they had a little fire in their bellies after leaving Gainesville. It’s a tough matchup. It always seems to be really intense between the Gators and Razorbacks.”


Florida is 3-1 all-time against Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, with the last meeting a 68-59 Gator win in the first round of the 2011 event when Florida was the No. 8 seed.


This is the sixth time the Gators are the No. 9 seed in the league’s postseason event. The Gators have won their opening-round each of the last two years.


Florida holds a 17-32 all-time record in the SEC Tournament, reaching the championship game in 1997, the team’s lone appearance in the final. Current UF head coach Amanda Butler was an assistant coach on the Gator staff that year and current UF assistant coach Murriel Page was the starting forward and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team.


Only three current members of the Gator squad have ever played in an SEC Tournament game: Jaterra Bonds, Jennifer George and Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.).


“The tough thing about our team is that for a tournament like this our youthfulness really comes into play,” Butler shared. “We really have to rely on Jennifer and Jaterra and Lily. Those three really have to step and get their teammates ready for what their mindset has to be. Besides just Arkansas preparation, it will be an education, a new life lesson for them in their basketball careers. There will be quite a bit of discovery process.”


Eleven of the Gator’s 16 SEC games this year were decided by eight points or less. Florida’s last meeting against 10 of the 13 other teams from the SEC has been decided by 10 points or less. The only three that have not been were each decided by 11 points.


“We lost more SEC games than we wanted to, but I think our team still has a very sincere confidence that in every single one of those games, except maybe Georgia at Georgia, could have gone our way,” Butler said. “They really do believe that in their heart. They were good enough to win those games just as easily as it was to lose them by six, five or four points or whatever. There is confidence to be found there.”


Over the last three games, All-SEC Freshman Team honoree Sydney Moss is averaging 11.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. During that same span, Bonds is contributing a team-best 15.0 points while hitting 64.3 percent (18-28) from the floor, 60 percent (3-5) from the three-point arc and 6-of-6 from the free throw line.


With her first assists in the regular-season finale, Bonds recorded her 100th assist of the season, marking the 19th time a season a Gator has reached the century plateau in a season. Bonds joined Moss with the accomplishment, as the rookie dished her 100th assist during the Feb. 24 win at Alabama.


Florida is the only school in the SEC this season with two players dishing at least 100 assists.


The last - and only other - time two Gators had 100 assists in the same season was during the 2000-01 campaign, when Tombi Bell had 139 and Brandi McCain has 124 assists.


Moss is the Gator leader in assists (3.9 apg), ranks second on the team for rebounding (6.5 rpg) and steals (1.4 pg), while ranking third for scoring (10.2 ppg). She has totaled three double-doubles and flirted with a triple-double five times. Among SEC freshmen entering the SEC Tournament, Moss ranks second for assists, third for rebounding and fourth for scoring. Moss has been the Gator’s game leader for assists 15 times, for rebounding eight times and scoring six times.


Overall, Bonds is averaging a team-leading 12.4 points with 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, while netting a team-best 22 double-figure scoring games.


George leads the Gators in rebounding (8.1), steals (1.9) and blocks (45) and ranks second for scoring (11.9 pg) and field goal percentage (48.9%)


Redshirt sophomore Kayla Lewis and freshman Christin Mercer are natives of the Peach State. Lewis hails from Decatur, located just 18 miles from Duluth. Mercer is from Douglasville, 38 miles from Duluth.


Mercer stared at Douglas County High School where she helped the 2011-12 Lady Tigers to a 26-3 overall record that included an 18-0 mark in 5-AAAAA region play which resulted in the region title. She was named 2011 and 2012 Atlanta Journal Constitution All-State First Team Class AAAA, as well as the 2011 Region 5-AAAA Player of the Year.


Lewis played the final high school game of her career at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, leading Southwest DeKalb (Ga.) High School in 2010 to a successful defense of its Class AAAA State Championship, scoring 20 points in the final versus Northwest Whitfield en route to the Panthers winning their third consecutive state title.  In the 2009 title game - also played at The Arena at Gwinnett Center - Lewis totaled 16 points and 15 rebounds against Fayette County and was named MVP of the 2009 state tournament. The 2010 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year who also was named 2010 Miss Georgia Basketball, Lewis totaled during her four-year prep career 1,349 points (13.8 ppg), 691 rebounds (7.1 rpg), 162 steals (1.7 spg), 151 assists (1.5 apg) and 140 blocked shots (1.4 pg), while shooting 52 percent from the floor.


This year, Lewis is averaging 7.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and has earned 21 starting assignments.




#9 Seed Florida (17-13, 6-10 SEC) vs. #8 Seed Arkansas (18-11, 6-10)

Thurs., March 7, 2013 * 12 Noon, ET

2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament - Day 2

The Arena at Gwinnett Center (10,309) * Duluth, Ga.





Official SEC Tournament Website


Game Coverage & More!

Radio: LIVE on The Star 99.5 FM (WBXY) in Gainesville with Adam Schick & Brittany Davis

Internet Audio: LIVE thru (FREE)

Internet Scoring: LIVE thru (FREE)

Internet Video: (Blacked out in the SEC footprint)

Television: LIVE on SportSouth, FS Southwest, SunSports (Cox Ch. 48 in Gainesville) with Dave Neal and Nell Fortner 


Opening Tip

*The Gators and Razorbacks played their lone regular-season meeting one week prior to the match-up at the SEC Tournament (Feb. 28)

*each of the last 6 meetings between UF and AR have been decided by 11 points or less

*UF is 3-1 vs. AR in the SEC Tournament; 23-8 all-time

*UF has won its last two SEC Tournament opening-round games

*11 of UF’s 16 SEC games were decided by 8 points or less

*Overall UF has played 15 games decided by 10 points or less (7-8)

*Jaterra Bonds led UF in scoring in 8 of its SEC games

*the next game Jennifer George plays will be the 129th of her career, tying her for the most played in program history with Tamara Stocks (1997-2001)



For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:

Official Website:


Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK  and  @CoachButlerUF 



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