Winning SEC East Is A BIG Deal

Billy Donovan has coached the Gators to three NCAA Final Four trips and a pair of National Championships. So it would be easy for him to downplay the significance of this year's team clinching at least a share of the SEC Eastern Division Title.

I'm glad he didn't.

Donovan praised his team for accomplishing one of several goals for this season.

"I know we were favored to win the SEC East," Donovan said. "But when you look at Kentucky, at Vanderbilt and taking two against Tennessee and Georgia, you are talking about some very strong programs."

Those are strong programs indeed. While the SEC is always "down" in the eyes of some pundits, the top five teams in the East all has solid RPI numbers heading down the stretch. Florida (No. 10) heads the list followed by Kentucky (No. 13), Vandy (No. 20), Tennessee (No. 32) and Georgia (No. 41). The Gators are currently 6-0 against those four teams with games at Kentucky this Saturday and Vandy next weekend.

Winning a division that boasts of five teams in the top 41 is a tremendous accomplishment. If they have to share, they'll share, but don't bet on it. This team is too good for that. Still, just about everyone who follows this team would have taken an 11-5 record in the SEC when the season began, especially after the early season losses to UCF and Jacksonville.

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The next prize for the taking is the overall SEC Championship. Florida certainly has a much more difficult schedule than Alabama, but does have the advantage of the Crimson Tide having to come to Gainesville next Tuesday. Florida needs to win that game and one of the road trips in order to assure itself of at least a share of the fifth SEC Title in school history.

As for the Crimson Tide, Bama will visit Ole Miss this weekend before coming to Gainesville and will finish the regular season at home against Georgia. How ironic would it be for Georgia, which is playing for its NCAA life to go to Tuscaloosa with a chance to help bring the SEC trophy back to Gainesville?

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How clutch was Chandler Parson's performance Thursday night? The senior who missed the LSU game with a deep thigh bruise came off the bench to play 30 minutes in the win over Georgia. He scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds including a huge put back late with 2:19 to play that gave the Gators a six-point lead.

If Parsons has a strong finish he is almost certain to become the first Gator to score 1,400 points, grab 800 rebounds and dish out 300 assists. The Gators have at least five more games to play and if that's all he gets he would need to average 14 points, 4.2 rebounds and one assist. Of course should the Gators win a post-season game or two (or more) reaching those milestones becomes even more likely.

Not bad for a guy many thought was a throw-in to get Nick Calathes.


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