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Gators freshman guard Michael Frazier unfazed by bright lights of postseason.

Sunday March 17, 2013Gators Notebook: Frazier Unfazed, UF Looks Ahead, Henderson's Gator Chomp, TV Info, More Tidbits

Gators freshman guard Michael Frazier unfazed by bright lights of postseason.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- About midway into the first half of Sunday's loss against Ole Miss, Gators freshman guard Michael Frazier had more points than the Rebels.

Frazier connected on three 3-pointers in a span of 4 minutes, 9 seconds, the third trey giving the Gators an 18-6 lead with 11:12 remaining before halftime.

Frazier has proven he is a dangerous outside threat in his first season with the Gators. Frazier has hit 50 of 103 3-point attempts entering the NCAA Tournament. Still, Sunday's stage was bigger than normal with the Gators playing Ole Miss for the SEC Tournament championship.

As for Frazier, he was bombs away as usual.

"You've got to stay in the moment. That's what the coaches always harp on, staying in the moment and being aware of the moment,'' he said. "When you do that, you don't get caught up in the outside and things that can have an affect on you."

Frazier played 22 minutes Sunday and added three rebounds and a steal to go with his nine points. An 82 percent free-throw shooter, Frazier stepped to the line with 3:16 remaining and Ole Miss leading 61-59.

Shooting a one-and-one with a chance to tie the game, Frazier's first attempt looked like it was on its way down but bounced out. The teams traded turnovers before Marshall Henderson's offensive put-back stretched the Rebels' lead to four again.

The missed free throw was one of the few shots Frazier didn't hit Sunday.

"[The loss] is disappointing, but we have to learn from it and move on,'' Frazier said. "It's in the past now. We can't do anything about it."

HITTING THE RESET BUTTON

The Gators wanted to add another trophy to the one they brought home Sunday night for winning the regular-season SEC title.

Florida was trying to sweep the regular-season and conference tournament titles for only the second time in school history, something the Gators did during the 2006-07 season.

They missed their opportunity Sunday and will start preparing Monday to face Northwestern State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night in Austin, Texas. The Gators are the No. 3 seed in the South Region.

"A new season starts,'' senior forward Erik Murphy said. "That's the great thing about sports, most of the time -- unless it's the last game of the year -- you get another chance to go out and play."

Senior guard Kenny Boynton hopes the Gators learned a lesson by blowing a 12-point halftime lead Sunday.

"Definitely being in the NCAA Tournament and knowing that any game it could end, as a team if we don't come out in every second half and play hard, we don't want it,'' he said. "I think we know what we have to do as a team. We've just got to go out and do it."

GATOR-CHOMPING HENDERSON

Florida fans didn't take kindly to Rebels guard Henderson doing the Gator Chomp on his way down the court after hitting a 3-pointer to put Ole Miss up 59-53 late in the second half. Many voiced their displeasure over Henderson's taunting on Twitter.

The role of villain is nothing new for Henderson.

"Iíve been a villain everywhere Iíve gone,Ē he said during the Rebels' run in Nashville. "Itís cool. I like it, actually. I feed off that. I love it when my name gets announced and I hear, ĎBoo!í Thatís the best. All I do is just smile.Ē

The controversial, brazen, animated, colorful, pick-your-adjective-here Henderson was named SEC Tournament MVP after scoring 21 points -- 18 coming in the second half -- in Ole Miss' comeback win Sunday. The Rebels overcame a 14-point deficit, which was the Gators' largest blown lead of the season.

Henderson was a media focal point all weekend, averaging 23.7 points in wins over Missouri, Vanderbilt and Florida.

"He takes really, really wacky shots and they go in sometimes, and he makes some tough ones,'' Gators coach Billy Donovan said following Sunday's loss. "But when you throw enough of them up there, they're going to go in. The thing I admire the most, I love his fierce competitiveness. He's a fierce competitor. He loves to play the game. I love his passion for the game.

"I love all that stuff about him, but it's not like all of a sudden we go into this game redesigning what we got to do to stop him."

Like Henderson's 25-point performance at the O'Connell Center on Feb. 2 -- a 78-64 Florida win -- the Gators knew Henderson would get his points Sunday. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin spent most of the day chasing Henderson around the 3-point arc to limit the damage.

Henderson finally got going in the second half and put the Rebels in front for the first time with three free throws when he was fouled on a 3-point shot. Henderson was twice fouled by Wilbekin on 3-pointers.

"The first one was a block, the second one I barely touched him,'' Wilbekin said. "If they are just going to call it every time he throws his hands up, what can you do?"

Donovan backed Wilbekin's defensive effort on the shots, telling reporters afterward he considered the calls questionable.

"I asked Scottie,'' Donovan said. "He said, 'Coach, I didn't touch him either time.' The ref obviously saw it different."

Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has answered questions all season about Henderson, who attended Utah, Texas Tech and a Texas junior college before landing at Ole Miss.

While opposing fans may not like him, Henderson is no doubt a huge reason why the Rebels won their first SEC Conference championship since 1981.

"Obviously the Marshall Henderson show is like the traveling circus,'' Kennedy said. "It's up, it's down. We got the high wire act over here, the ponies here, we got all kinds of nonsense going on, and he draws a lot of attention, he's a big shot maker.

"It's about focus with him. His passion comes from a good place, it really does. It's a matter of staying focused. He can easily get distracted and turn his energy into things that are not productive for anyone. I'm constantly challenging him to be focused."

TV INFO

Florida's first-round NCAA Tournament game Friday against Northwestern State is scheduled for 7:27 p.m. ET on truTV.

Tim Brando (play-by-play) and analysts Mike Gminski and Otis Livingston are the announcers.

Check GatorZone.com for more broadcast information on the game later.

QUOTE OF NOTE I

"We're in the dance. So much is made about the NCAA Tournament. I was just glad to get the albatross that is the NCAA Tournament off the neck of our program so people now can exhale and get a new focal point." -- Kennedy on ending Ole Miss' 11-year NCAA Tournament drought

QUOTE OF NOTE II

"The game should have never come down to that. You can't put the game on one play. We had chances to get stops in the second half and we weren't able to." -- Frazier on Boynton's last-second 3-point attempt

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

Boynton and Murphy joined the Ole Miss trio of Henderson, Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway on the All-SEC Tournament Team.

Murphy scored a career-high 27 points in Florida's win over LSU on Friday, and Boynton scored 16 second-half points to help the Gators overcome a 10-point deficit in the second half to defeat Alabama on Saturday.

NOTES AND NUGGETS

The Gators dropped to 3-6 all-time in SEC Tournament championship games ... Florida senior guard Mike Rosario's 18 points were his most since scoring 22 at Auburn on Feb. 16; Rosario grabbed a career-high nine rebounds ... Rosario led the Gators in scoring for a team-leading 14th time this season ... The Gators lost for the first time this season in their white uniforms, falling to 20-1 ... The Gators made just 3 of 11 free throws in the second half after sinking 5 of 6 in the first half ... Ole Miss had a 36-14 advantage in points in the paint, highlighted by Holloway's 23 points on 11 of 14 shooting ... Florida is now 4-3 all-time against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament.

 

 

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