Thoughts of the Day: March 4, 2020

WHICH UF TEAM WILL SHOW UP TONIGHT?

The big question heading into tonight’s game with Georgia (15-14, 5-11 SEC) at Stegman Coliseum, is which Florida (18-11, 10-6 SEC) team is going to show up?

Will it be the one that fell behind 22 points behind Georgia in Gainesville? Or will it be the one that played with such incredible intensity at both ends of the floor in the final 14 minutes to pull out a rather miraculous win?


Will it be the team that couldn’t find the ocean from the end of the pier in a loss in Lexington? Or will it be the one that played perhaps the best game of the season at both ends of the floor to knock off LSU, 82-66?


Will it be the team that scored only 17 first half points at Tennessee this past Saturday night? Or the one that battled from 15 down at the half to almost pull out a win over the Vols?

The Florida team that locks in defensively and makes shots can beat any team on the schedule and probably a bunch of teams that are going to be seeded one through eight in the NCAA Tournament. The Florida team that has these terrible lapses, especially at the offensive end, can lose to anyone, particularly to a Georgia team that has one four of its last five games, the only loss in overtime to South Carolina.


“I think the biggest contributing factor to our runs and our poor phases and our electric phases are the emotions of our team,” Florida coach Mike White said Tuesday before the Gators departed for Athens.” This team, again, we can be an immature, emotional team and sometimes we can play with a really high level of confidence and sometimes, for whatever reason, we just go through these lulls. We can’t have that to have success in Athens.”

Against Tennessee, the Gators had one of those couldn’t find the ocean from the end of the pier first halves. Considering their lack of ball movement, poor shot selection, careless turnovers and the complete lack of emotion, the Gators were fortunate to only be down by 15 at the half. Yet, they came back and made a game of it.


The Gators can’t afford to simply make a game of it tonight. Due to a rather strange Tuesday evening in which South Carolina beat Mississippi State to even both teams up at 10-7 in SEC play and Tennessee’s shocking 81-73 win over Kentucky in Rupp, Florida can’t afford a loss. Mississippi State has a winnable game in Starkville against Ole Miss Saturday and the Bulldogs own the tiebreaker over UF when it comes to getting that two-day bye at the SEC Tournament. If the Gators were to lose to Georgia and Kentucky this week, they would be tied at 10-8 with Tennessee and the Vols own the tiebreaker over UF.


A split of the two games this week would make for a dicey situation in which UF would have to have help from Ole Miss to get the two-day bye in Nashville. Of course, if the Gators go 2-0, they can end all doubt.


They’re certainly capable of 2-0 but only if the team that can play so well decides to show up and play 40 minutes in both games. SEC BASKETBALL Tuesday’s scores South Carolina (18-12, 10-7 SEC) 83, Mississippi State (18-11, 10-7 SEC) 71

Vanderbilt (10-20, 2-15 SEC) 87, Alabama (16-14, 8-9 SEC) 79 Tennessee (17-13, 9-8 SEC) 81, #6 Kentucky (24-6, 14-3 SEC) 73 Wednesday’s games FLORIDA (18-11, 10-6 SEC) at Georgia (15-14, 5-11 SEC), ESPNU

Texas A&M (14-14, 8-8 SEC) at #17 Auburn (24-5, 11-5 SEC), ESPN2

LSU (20-9, 11-5 SEC) at Arkansas (18-11, 6-10 SEC), SEC Network Missouri (14-15, 6-10 SEC) at Ole Miss (14-15, 5-11 SEC), SEC Network


#1 GATORS TAKE DOWN FAU, 7-3, FOR BEST START IN UF HISTORY The Gators took a 5-3 lead in the top of the third inning Tuesday night in West Palm Beach and went on to take out Florida Atlantic, 7-3, for their 12th consecutive win to start the season, a new school record.


Tied at 3-3, the Gators got an RBI single from Cory Acton and an RBI groundout from Kris Armstrong to take the lead. After that, it was all about Florida’s pitching. David Leuthje, who came on in relief in the bottom of the second, gave the Gators 2-2/3 innings of 2-hit, shutout ball. That was followed by 3-1/3 innings of 2-hit, shutout ball from Christian Scott. Ben Specht came on the pitch the ninth to finish off the Owls.


The Gators got a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on an RBI groundout by Austin Langworthy and an FAU error.


The top-ranked Gators return home to face FAMU tonight at 6 p.m.

Other Florida sports: Despite losing two of three to Louisiana-Lafayette last weekend, the Gators (17-4) only dropped one spot to seventh in the USA Today Coaches poll … The up and down season for the Florida lacrosse team continued Tuesday. The 5th-ranked Gators dropped a 13-9 decision to Dartmouth on the road … The Florida men’s golf team finished fourth in a 15-team field at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Wednesday. Southern Cal won the event with a 3-under par 861 team score. The Gators were nine shots off the pace ... The 7th-ranked Florida softball team (17-4) will try to shake off two weekend losses to Louisiana-Lafayette tonight (6 p.m.) when they play host to Florida Gulf Coast at Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium.


THINGS THAT MAKE ME GO HMMM ON WEDNESDAY (1) Golfers on the European PGA Tour got their feelings hurt by Paul Azinger, who dared to say that wins on the PGA Tour in the US are far more difficult to come by than those on the Euro tour. Azinger pointed to Lee Westwood, noting that Westwood has 44 career tournament wins worldwide but only two on the tour in the US. After the outrage, Zinger defended himself in comments made to Golfweek, stating that pro golfers “choke for two things: cash and prestige and the PGA Tour has both.” While I agree with Zinger for the most part, I can’t help but wonder why the Euros so often whack the US in the Ryder Cup.


(2) The story of Scott Cochran leaving Alabama for an on-the-field coaching position at Georgia just took a real turn for the bizarre. Cochran never played college football nor held down any kind of coaching position other than strength and conditioning, so it’s rather strange that Georgia would hire him to be its special teams coordinator. Now it gets really juicy. Cochran is taking a $45,000 pay cut to be on the Georgia staff. Bama was paying him $595,000. And, since we’re on the subject of former members of Nick Saban’s coaching staff, Dan Enos, who spent a year coaching quarterbacks at Alabama before taking the offensive coordinator job at Miami (he was fired after one year), is the new running backs coach at Cincinnati.


(3) Sawyer Smith is the #1 quarterback as Kentucky starts spring football. Terry Wilson is still rehabbing from last year’s season-ending knee injury and Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood is practicing but has yet to receive a waiver from the NCAA that will make him eligible for 2020.


(4) Kansas will make public its response to the NCAA, which has charged basketball program with major violations including a lack of institutional control. Back in September, after receiving its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, Kansas stated that it “emphatically rejects” that Adidas representatives were considered boosters and agents by the NCAA and disagreed with the institutional control charges. A date with the Committee on Infractions is expected during the summer. It might be October or November before the NCAA issues a final ruling.


GOOD QUOTES FOR WEDNESDAY

Paul Finebaum on WJOX pointed a long, bony finger (verbally) at Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding and offers insight to the hire of Charlie Strong as an analyst: “Pete Golding is the worst defensive coordinator Nick Saban has had at Alabama. That’s not really debatable. Kevin Steele, Kirby Smart, Jeremy Pruitt and I don’t even consider Tosh Lupoi the defensive coordinator because he really never finished the season calling the plays. Make sure I’m heard correctly. Tosh Lupoi is the worst in name, but Pete’s the worst in terms of someone that came back the next year and I don’t really understand it.


“I think Saban was so insistent on not making a change that he maybe went against his better judgment. He wants Pete Golding to be a great defensive coordinator and I’m not sure that’s going to be the ticket at Alabama. That’s probably one reason why he brought Charlie Strong on. The combination of Tosh Lupoi and Pete Golding as defensive coordinators at Alabama is really embarrassing, quite frankly, for a program like Alabama.”


From Vic Tafur of The Athletic on the impressive showing by quarterback Jalen Hurts at the NFL Combine: “The Oklahoma quarterback not only threw very well at his scouting combine workout at Indianapolis that night, but he also had one of the fastest sprints at his position. That capped off five days in which league sources say he nailed team interviews and went from being a projected fourth-round pick to likely going in the second round.”


RANDOM THOUGHTS: This is rather interesting. Ole Miss hired Matt Lindsey to run the day-to-day operations of its football program along with player personnel, recruiting, performance analytics and academic progress. Lindsey’s title is general manager. I’m not sure there is another college football program with a general manager … Former Michigan linebacker and captain Joe Bolden has joined the Ohio State staff as a defensive quality control analyst …Laremy Tunsil, formerly of Columbia County High School before he was involved in all sorts of shenanigans that helped put Ole Miss on probation, has fired his agent and is demanding a new contract worth $19-20 million per season from the Houston Texans …With 25 straight wins and a Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship, the University of St. Joseph’s (CT) is in the NCAA Division III Tournament. St. Joseph’s is coached by 77-year-old Jim Calhoun, the same Jim Calhoun who won three NCAA championships in Division I at UConn … Winner of this week’s gotta play hurt award has to go to former Kentucky HBC Hal Mumme, who’s Bobby Stoops’ offensive coordinator with the Dallas Renegades of the XFL. Mumme suffered a broken leg in a sideline collision midway through the first quarter of the Renegades loss to the Houston Roughnecks. Mumme never left the sideline, which means he coached the last 2-1/2 quarters in a world of hurt while calling plays … The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly trying to trade Al Horford for some outside shooting. Horford is in the first year of a 4-year contract with the Sixers of which $69.1 million is guaranteed. That’s nice work if you can get it.

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