Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators Wait for Tournament Fate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators Wait for Tournament Fate

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

ATLANTA -- Whatever damage -- if any -- Friday's Southeastern Conference tournament loss to Mississippi State did to Florida's seeding in the NCAA Tournament is irrelevant to coach Billy Donovan.

He's more concerned with repairing the damage MSU did to his team's psyche in the 62-52 loss at the Georgia Dome.

"Truthfully, I am not looking at the Tournament at all," said Donovan, who ripped his team's heart, passion and character after the game. "Right now, I am looking at getting back to Gainesville for practice. I think they will pick it up quickly once they are back in the gym."

The Gators have a lot to pick up after the physical loss, which was their seventh in the last 14 games.

Florida shot 31.3 percent (20 of 64) from the field, which included a 5-for-20 performance from the 3-point line, and the Gators were never able to get into a rhythm offensively. It was the second-worst point total under Donovan, and it came just 20 days after UF scored just 51 points in a blowout loss at Mississippi.

Brett Nelson, who had scored 23 points in back-to-back games, had only 10 points. The Bulldogs guarded him much closer than Auburn did on Thursday, and it frustrated him into 4-of-11 shooting. The lone bright spot was Florida's bench, which reversed a recent trend and played well against MSU. But it needed to because Udonis Haslem played only three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.

The Gators will find out tonight if their fifth consecutive two-and-out performance in the SEC tournament had any effect on their seeding. When the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced on CBS tonight (6 p.m.), Florida expects to be a No. 4 or 5 seed.

The Gators were considered a No. 2 or 3 seed three weeks ago, but a 3-3 finish to the regular season and a 1-1 record in the SEC tournament likely changed that. …

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