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The Gators were presented their trophy for winning the SEC regular-season championship prior to Friday's game.

Saturday March 15, 2014Gators Notebook: Matchup vs. Vols Brings up Young's Hustle, TV Options, 30 Wins, More Tidbits

The Gators were presented their trophy for winning the SEC regular-season championship prior to Friday's game.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

ATLANTA -- Senior center Patric Young has made a lot of hustle plays during his four seasons at Florida, but none received as much attention as his recovery of a loose ball in a 67-58 win at Tennessee on Feb. 11.

Young leapt headfirst for a rebound late in the game and got airborne and horizontal to the ground, beating two Vols to the ball.

The Gators led 61-55 with 1:32 remaining when Young missed a shot that bounced off the rim and quickly headed out of bounds. However, Young chased the ball down and saved it to Kasey Hill before it could go out.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan called Young's effort "the play of the year" on his postgame radio show.

ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes, who was courtside calling the game, tweeted: "I bet every coach in the country will show their team Patric Young diving for the ball. A SR. that has one agenda ... WIN."

The Gators and Vols meet for the third time this afternoon with a berth in Sunday's SEC Tournament championship game up for grabs. Florida won both regular-season meetings.

Gators sophomore guard Michael Frazier said the Vols are talented and that Young's play serves as a reminder of what Florida must do in today's game.

"The key was that we wanted it more,'' Frazier said after Thursday's win over Missouri. "When I think about that game, the one play that sticks in my mind is Patric diving for that loose ball. That kind of sums up the whole game -- we wanted it more than them as a team. That has to be the case [Friday]."

The Vols advanced with a 59-44 victory over South Carolina on Thursday. Tennessee forward Jarnell Stokes scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as Tennessee rolled to another win. The Vols have defeated their last five opponents by an average of 23 points a game.

Stokes expects a different challenge from the No. 1-ranked Gators.

"We have a great opportunity to see how well we have been playing of late and to see how it will play out against Florida,'' Stokes said.

TROPHY TIME

The Gators got their hardware on Friday for winning the SEC regular-season championship. The team was presented a trophy by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive prior to its game against Missouri.

Afterward, several players held the large trophy and took pictures in the locker room to celebrate the Gators' third SEC title in the last four seasons.

TV OPTIONS

If you watched the Gators blow past Missouri on Friday with a second-half surge, you likely saw the game on ESPNU or online at ESPN3.com.

And if the Gators advance to Sunday's SEC Tournament championship game with a victory this afternoon against Tennessee, you can watch the game live on ESPN.

However, today's game against the Vols (1 p.m.) is only available on ABC with few exceptions. The game is also available on ESPN3 in small pockets of Wisconsin, Michigan and New York -- http://espn.go.com/watchespn/blackout?id=1765870.

The viewing options for next year's SEC Tournament will be streamlined with the launch of the SEC Network in August. The first three rounds of the SEC Network will be aired exclusively on the SEC Network starting in 2015. The expanded coverage will mark the first time the entire tournament will be nationally televised.

"This is an example of the in-depth basketball coverage the SEC Network will give fans across the country,'' SEC Commissioner Slive said.

Billy Donovan

THE BIG 3-0

The Gators have won 20 or more games 16 consecutive seasons under Donovan. They now have their third 30-win season in Donovan's 18-year tenure.

Florida improved to 30-2 with Friday's win, reaching 30 wins in a season for the first time since the 2006-07 national-title season. The Gators finished with 29 wins in two of the last three seasons.

"It's hard to get to 30 wins,'' Donovan said. "So I think what these guys have done, at least up to this point in time in the regular season, was truly special. But now we're in a different part of our season."

DOME TOUCH

Prior to Friday's 23-point win over Missouri, the last time the Gators played in a dome was last season's Elite Eight loss to Michigan at AT&T Stadium -- or Jerry's World.

In two games there -- Florida defeated FGCU in the Sweet 16 -- the Gators shot 39.8 percent (45 of 113) and made only 6 of 25 (24 percent) from 3-point range.

The Gators had no trouble finding their stroke Friday at the Georgia Dome from long distance, connecting on 12 of 21 3-pointers (57.1 percent). Scottie Wilbekin hit a career-high five 3s and Frazier hit five, marking the eighth time this season -- the most for a player under Donovan -- that Frazier has hit five or more 3-pointers in a game.

"It's just another gym to be honest,'' Wilbekin said of shooting in a dome. "Sometimes you shoot good in them and sometimes you don't. If the first one goes in, it's easier. You have more confidence."

QUOTE OF NOTE

"I think we have got a group that is pretty cerebral. You can talk about things that we need to change or adjust, and they're pretty good at that.'' -- Donovan on his team's ability to adjust at halftime.

QUOTE OF NOTE II

"If you would have said to me, 'Frank, which team would you rather not play in the tournament?' I would have said Tennessee. Not taking anything away from Florida, Kentucky, or anyone else, it's just their perimeter size really, really bothers us." -- South Carolina coach Frank Martin after Friday's loss to Tennessee

BONUS SHOTS

The Gators outscored Missouri 43-20 in the second half Friday, which tied the lowest second-half output of any Florida opponent this season (South Carolina scored 20 on March 4). In two wins over Missouri, Florida outscored the Tigers 86-50 in the second half ... The Gators closed Friday's win on a 34-13 run over the final 11:58 ... Frazier became only the third Gator to hit 100 3-pointers in a season, joining Lee Humphrey (113 in 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons) and Kenny Boynton (110 in 2011-12) ... The Gators are 18-18 against Tennessee under Donovan ... This is only the second time since 1989 that Florida and Tennessee have met in the SEC Tournament. In 2011, the Gators won 85-74 behind 22 points from Boynton ... The Gators are 3-4 all-time against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, with four of the meetings coming in the 1980s.

--GatorZone.com Senior Writer Chris Harry contributed to this report.

 

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