Basketball Season Review

We tried to figure out a different way of looking back over this past Gator basketball season and here's what we've come up with. In the first of a three part look at the 2009-10 campaign we will go through the five biggest wins of the season. In part two we'll look over the five worst setbacks of the campaign. In part three we'll hand out grades for the Gator program and the individuals in it.

At a future date we will take a detailed look at the Gators for next season and the outlook for the SEC. However we need all recruiting to be concluded for the first part of that, and the decisions on whether or not to turn pro for the second. It's ridiculous to try and assess the SEC until we have confirmation of the plans of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Trey Thompkins, A.J. Ogilvy and perhaps others.

So here goes with the pleasant part of this review, the five best wins of the season just completed. This is in order, beginning with our choice for the biggest win of the year.

Florida 77 Michigan State 72 ---- Florida was 4-0 on the young season, but few if any gave them much of a chance against last year's NCAA runner-up in Atlantic City. Add to that it was far from a neutral court as Spartan fans outnumbered Gators about 50-to-1. The physical boys from the Big Ten dominated the glass, but Florida offset that with a plus-12 turnover differential. Florida showed it could win even if Kenny Boynton (2-for-12) and Erving Walker (2-for-10) don't shoot well. Ray Shipman had perhaps his best game of the season with ten points and two rebounds in just 14 minutes.

Florida 75 Tennessee 62 ---- Bruce Pearl was 7-1 against the Gators heading into this one and Florida had to have a win that mattered. And they played like it. The Gators out rebounded the Vols by nine, which is pretty unusual in recent meetings between the schools. Erving Walker and Chandler Parsons each scored 19 while Vernon Macklin (13/10) added a double-double. The win assured the Gators (20-8, 9-4) of a winning SEC record and was a big part of the Gators' postseason resume.

Florida 68 FSU 52 ---- The Gators pretty much raised expectations throughout Gator Nation with a sensational first half performance against their rivals from Tallahassee. The Gators raced out to a 39-19 lead at halftime and were never seriously threatened. Boynton, Walker and Alex Tyus each scored 13 while Shipman (9) and Parsons (8) combined for 17 points off the bench.

Florida 69 Mississippi State 62 ---- As the second half of the conference season got underway it was already apparent that the one time games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State would be huge in determining the pecking order for the second wave of SEC teams hoping to get into the NCAA. Macklin faced the challenge of going up against shot blocking sensation Jarvis Varnado and had his best game as a Gator scoring 20 points with six rebounds and matched Varnado's one blocked shot. Parsons (18/12) backed up the big fella with a double-double and added six assists.

Florida 78 Auburn 69 ---- Even though Florida ended up with a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament you'll never convince me the Gators would have gotten into the field of 65 without beating Auburn in the SEC Tournament. This time it was the big guys carrying the day with Alex Tyus posting a season high 24 points while Parsons added 21 more. Those two outscored their teammates 45-33. The win was the Gators 21st of the season and seemed at the time to be enough to get them in. That turns out to be exactly the case.

So those are the five biggest wins of the season. Honorable mentions go to the victory at Ole Miss and beating Rutgers to win the tournament in Atlantic City.

Next up, the first worst losses of the year, which is sorta tough since the Gators only lost to two teams with losing records but we'll manage.


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