GATORS HOLD ON, WIN CHARLESTON CHAMPIONSHIP The best kind of teaching moments are the ones you get after you win. Mike White has plenty of teaching moments for the Florida Gators (5-2) after their 70-65 win over 17th-ranked Xavier in the championship game of the Charleston Classic. The Gators held a 10-point lead at halftime and expanded it to 17 right out of the gates in the second, but turnovers and some bad shot decisions helped the Musketeers get back to within three (68-65) with 1:09 to go.
After a shot clock violation against UF with 32 seconds remaining, Xavier elected to play for the tie and overtime but good Florida defense on a Paul Scruggs 3-ball resulted in a rebound by Kerry Blackshear Jr., who put the game away with 7.5 seconds to go with a pair of free throws. Xavier had one last crack at the basket with three seconds left but Blackshear cleared the rebound to secure the championship for Florida.
Florida should have won this game in blowout fashion. Xavier deserves credit for playing hard, forcing some turnovers and then converting at the offensive end, but the Gators made far too many silly mistakes in the backcourt against the full court press and several ill-advised shots way too early in the shot clock. And, when the shot clock wound down, there was too much dribbling and standing around instead of passing and moving to the basket. Those are teachable moments, which White will certainly try to work out in practice this week.
Florida was ahead, 52-38, at the 15-minute mark in the second half when Xavier began giving the Gators fits with a full court press. Over the next five minutes, the Musketeers outscored the Gators 10-4 to cut Florida’s lead to 54-48. Florida pushed the lead back to 13 (64-51) behind a 3-point play by Keyontae Johnson and five quick points off the bench from freshman Ques Glover but again Xavier got the Gators out of sorts with a full court press and outscored UF 14-4. This time it was Florida’s defense that made the plays when it counted to give the Gators the win.
Four Gators scored in double figures led by Andrew Nembhard and Johnson with 15 each. Blackshear finished with 14 to go with 10 rebounds and Noah Locke had 13 including 3-5 on his 3-pointers. The unsung hero for UF was Glover, who followed up his 11-point effort against Miami with nine against Xavier.
Xavier is the seventh consecutive opponent the Gators have held to fewer than 70 points.
The Gators return home to the O-Dome Friday for a non-conference matchup with Marshall (2-3).
GATORS MOVE UP TO #8 IN AP, COACHES POLLS
The off week worked out well for the Florida Gators. While formerly #6 Oregon and #8 Penn State lost, the Gators didn’t have to do a thing to move up to #8 in both the Associated Press and Coaches top 25 polls. The Gators were ranked #11 in the previous AP poll, 10th in the Coaches.
The top five teams remained the same in both polls. The biggest movement Oregon and Penn State, both of whom dropped out the top ten.
The Associated Press Top 25
(1) LSU 11-0; (2) Ohio State 11-0; (3) Clemson 11-0; (4) Georgia 10-1; (5) Alabama 10-1; (6) Utah 10-1; (7) Oklahoma 10-1; (8) FLORIDA 9-2; (9) Minnesota; (10) Michigan 9-2; (11) Baylor 10-1; (12) Penn State 9-2; (13) Wisconsin 9-2; (14) Oregon 9-2; (15) Notre Dame 9-2; (16) Auburn 8-3; (17) Memphis 10-1; (18) Utah 10-1; (19) Iowa 10-1; (20) Boise State 10-1; (21) Oklahoma State 8-3; (22) Appalachian State 10-1; (23) Virginia Tech 8-3; (24) Navy 9-2; (25) Southern Cal 8-4
The Coaches Top 25
(1) LSU 11-0; (2) Ohio State 11-0; (3) Clemson 11-0; (4) Georgia 10-1; (5) Alabama 10-1; (6) Utah 10-1; (7) Oklahoma 10-1; (8) FLORIDA 9-2; (9) Minnesota 10-1; (10) Baylor 10-1; (11) Michigan 9-2; (12) Penn State 9-2; (13) Oregon 9-2; (14) Wisconsin 9-2; (15) Notre Dame 9-2; (16) Auburn 8-3; (17) Cincinnati 10-1; (18) Memphis 10-1; (19) Boise State 10-1; (20) Iowa 8-3; (21) Oklahoma State 8-3; (22) Appalachian State 10-1; (23) Virginia Tech 8-3; (24) Navy 8-2; (25) Southern Cal 8-4
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF (Associated Press Rankings) LSU (11-0, 7-0 SEC): The Tigers are the only team in college football with a 4,000-yard passer (Joe Burrow, 4,014), a 1,000-yard rusher (Clyde Edwards Helaire, 1,146) and two 1,00-yard receivers (Ja’Marr Chase, 63-1,260; Justin Jefferson, 1,037). Next Saturday: vs. Texas A&M
Georgia (10-1, 7-1 SEC): In its four wins over ranked opponents – Notre Dame, Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M – the Bulldogs haven’t scored more than 24 points. They have 21 and 19 in the wins over Auburn and A&M.
Next Saturday: at Georgia Tech (3-8)
Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC): Mac Jones was 10-12 passing for 275 yards and three touchdowns. In his two starts this season, Jones is 28-34 for 510 yards and six touchdowns. Next Saturday: at Auburn (8-3, 4-3 SEC)
FLORIDA (9-2, 6-2 SEC): The Gators rank #5 nationally in sacks (38) and are tied for second in interceptions (15). That’s in 11 games. In 13 games last year the Gators had 37 sacks and 14 interceptions. Next Saturday: vs. Florida State (6-5)
Auburn (8-3, 4-3 SEC): Auburn will be without safety Jamien Sherwood for the first half of the Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama. Sherwood was ejected in the third quarter of Auburn’s 52-0 win over Samford. Next Saturday: vs. Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC)
Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3 SEC): Jimbo Fisher has a legitimate complaint about the officiating in the Aggies’ 19-13 loss to Georgia. His receivers were mugged and the zebras absolutely refused to throw their yellow hankies. On Georgia’s only touchdown pass, receiver George Pickens yanked the facemask of A&M corner Debione Renfro right in front of the zebra but there was no call. Next Saturday: at LSU (11-0, 7-0 SEC)
Tennessee (6-5, 4-3 SEC): The Vols started the season 1-4 but they are 5-1 since with the only loss to Alabama. Now that they are bowl eligible the boosters aren’t holding bake sales and car washes to raise the money for a buyout. Next Saturday: at Vanderbilt (3-8, 1-6 SEC)
Kentucky (6-5, 3-5 SEC): Responding to questions about his turning down an offer to become the next HBC at Florida State, Mark Stoops said, “This is where my heart is. This is where I want to be … so I’m going to be at Kentucky.” Next Saturday: vs. Louisville
Missouri (5-6, 2-5 SEC): The Missouri meltdown continued. The Tigers have lost their last five games and have fewer than 300 yards of offense in all five losses, which has boosters and alums calling for the firing of offensive coordinator Derek Dooley. Next Saturday: at Arkansas (2-9, 0-7 SEC)
South Carolina (4-7, 3-5 SEC): In their last five games with Clemson – all losses – the average margin of defeat is 23.4 points. Next Saturday: vs. Clemson (11-0)
Ole Miss (4-7, 3-4 SEC): The first thing new athletic director Keith Carter did was announce that he’s “so excited about Coach (Matt) Luke” and “excited about where the future is headed.”
Next Saturday: at Mississippi State (5-6, 2-5 SEC)
Mississippi State (5-6, 2-5 SEC): Now that a deal to bring back Greg Schiano as the HBC at Rutgers has fallen through, it’s expected Rutgers will make a run at Joe Moorhead, who seems to be a far better fit in the northeast than he is in Mississippi. Next Saturday: vs. Ole Miss (4-7, 3-4 SEC)
Vanderbilt (3-8, 1-6 SEC): Ke’Shawn Vaughn went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. With 139 yards in the win over East Tennessee State, Vaughn has 1,015 yards. Next Saturday: vs. Tennessee
Arkansas (2-9, 0-7 SEC): In their 11 games so far this season, the Razorbacks have given up at least 400 yards nine times and at least 31 points eight times. Against LSU Saturday night, the Hogs allowed 612 yards and 56 points. Next Saturday: vs. Missouri
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF
Sunday’s games FLORIDA (5-2) 70, #17 Xavier 65 #9 Kentucky (5-1) 86, Lamar 51 LSU (4-2) 96, Rhode Island 83 Mississippi State (6-1) 81, Coastal Carolina 56
Monday’s games Georgia (4-0) at Dayton Chattanooga at #20 Tennessee (4-0) Arkansas (5-0) at Georgia Tech Butler vs. Missouri (4-1) in Kansas City Southeastern Louisiana at Vanderbilt (4-1) #19 Auburn (5-0) vs. New Mexico in Brooklyn, NY
ELSEWHERE IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
What a touching moment at Washington State where the late Tyler Hilinski was honored on Senior Night. The entire senior class that was recruited to Washington State with Hilinski walked out together when Hilinski’s name was called out and then they embraced the Hilinski family.
If the rumors are correct, then Clay Helton’s firing is a done deal, but Helton has ensured the school will look silly by going 5-1 the second half of the season for an 8-4 finish in a season plagued by injuries.
Ohio State (11-0) beat Penn State (9-2) by 11 but it should have been a blowout. The Buckeyes fumbled away a touchdown and then gave the Nittany Lions 17 points in the third quarter. If not for Chase Young (three sacks, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, seven QB hurries) Ohio State could have lost this one.
The Pac-12 chances of putting a team in the College Football Playoff got very complicated Saturday night when unranked Arizona State upset then sixth-ranked Oregon, 31-28. That’s Oregon’s second loss but the Ducks will still make the Pac-12 Championship Game where they likely face a once-beaten and 6th-ranked Utah (10-1). Should Oregon knock off Utah in the championship game the Pac-12 could just about forget getting a team in the playoff. Again.
Cincinnati (10-1), which has clinched its spot in the AAC Championship game, faces Memphis (10-1) on the road next Saturday. If Memphis wins, the Tigers clinch the AAC West title and they’ll face Cincinnati the following week in the league title game.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor set a Division I record with his 12th game of 200 or more yards rushing, breaking a tie with Ricky Williams, Ron Dayne and Marcus Allen. Taylor gained 222 yards against Purdue.
GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY
From David M. Hale of ESPN on the flaws in Georgia: “As appetizers go, Georgia’s 19-13 win over Texas A&M was like a plate of nachos – perfect for picking at until there’s nothing left. What to make of the performance? Georgia’s defense looked dominant, as has been the case of most of the season. But like Notre Dame, South Carolina, Florida and Auburn, the Bulldogs couldn’t quite put an overmatched opponent away because the offense just didn’t have a second gear. Yes, Jake Fromm made some incredible throws, but there were too many missed opportunities along the way, too.”
Florida International Sage Lewis after the Golden Panthers whacked Miami for the first win in school history over a Power 5 opponent: “We wasn’t even calling them the University of Miami during the week. We were calling them the University of Coral Gables. We’re the true Miami school. We have more students internationally. We did it for the university and for the world.”
Coach O after LSU sleepwalked its way to a 56-20 win over Arkansas to improve to 11-0: “There wasn’t going to be celebrating for beating Arkansas. They haven’t beaten anyone in a long time.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: When the Washington Redskins ran on the field to get into the victory formation for the final snap to end their 19-16 win over the Detroit Lions, quarterback Dwayne Haskins was nowhere to be found. That’s because he was busy taking a selfie with a fan. Case Keenum had to run out on the field for the last snap … Frank Gore moved past Barry Sanders for third place on the all-time NFL rushing list. In his 15th season, Gore now has 15,289 yards. He trails Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726) … North Dakota State is the #1 seed in the D1AA championship tournament. The Bison have won eight of the last nine national championships.