Historical season rewrites the record books

With five games remaining in the regular season, No. 2 Florida has taken its eraser to the school's record book. The four-man senior class has been a key part of the school's three straight Elite Eight appearances, but what the group is doing this year in the regular season is different. They're changing the history of Florida basketball.

No one will ever forget what the Gators did during their back-to-back national championship seasons. Those teams had three top-10 picks in the NBA Draft and enough experience and resolve to pummel any team that didn't play its best game.

This year's team isn't like that. It doesn't have the raw talent and athleticism that Corey Brewer, Al Horford and Joakim Noah brought to the team. In fact, the best chance for a first round pick off this year's roster is Chris Walker, a freshman big man who is playing 4.4 minutes per game since becoming eligible in early February.

That's not meant to discredit what the Gators are doing this season. It actually makes it more impressive. The bond between this year's roster has helped it do things the 2006-07 teams couldn't.

Wednesday was a perfect example. The Gators were far from their best and needed a comeback effort -- plus some help -- to steal the game from Auburn, setting a school record by stretching the current winning streak to 18 games, the third longest active streak in the country behind Wichita State (28) and Stephen F. Austin (21).

The Gators are 13-0 to start Southeastern Conference play for the first time in school history. The 13-game conference winning streak is tied for the longest in school history.

The O'Connell Center has only helped the success. Florida is currently riding a 30-game home winning streak, a school record and tied for the longest active streak in the country with Duke and Stephen F. Austin. The previous school record of 24 wins was set during the back-to-back national championship seasons.

The Gators are also riding a 16-game home winning streak during SEC play, the longest in school history by three games. On the road, Florida has tied the school record with a six-game winning streak in SEC play. That record has a chance to be broken with a win at Ole Miss on Saturday at 12 p.m. This is also the first season Florida has started SEC play with a 6-0 record in road games.

The Gators have also ended some streaks for other schools. Florida beat Arkansas in January to end the Razorbacks' 25-game home winning streak, while last week's win at Kentucky snapped the Wildcats' 22-game home winning streak. It was also just the third loss for Jon Calipari in his first 84 home games at Kentucky.

The 24-2 record combined with the success in the previous three years has the Florida seniors in position to make even more history. With five games remaining in the regular season, the seniors need just 10 wins to leave the program with the most wins of any senior class. The current record is held by the 2009 senior class, which ended up being only Walter Hodge with 117 wins.

The scary thing about this season is that there are still what-ifs attached to it. The two Florida losses this season both came without a full roster. The Gators lost the second game of the year by six points at Wisconsin, but that came with Dorian Finney-Smith and Scottie Wilbekin serving suspensions.

Against Connecticut in December, Wilbekin came out of the game with an ankle sprain with three minutes remaining in a two-point game. The Gators lost on a fluke play, as an offensive rebound bounced perfectly to Connecticut senior guard Shabazz Napier, who hit the game-winner as time expired.

It's easy to wonder what could have been with a full roster, but even without those wins, what the Gators are doing this season is special. Without the NBA talent that saturated the Florida roster during the back-to-back national championship seasons, this year's team is still finding ways to break records.


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