The Russell Report: Gators Men’s Basketball gets big win over Kentucky and Gator Women are set to begin the SEC Tournament

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 4:53 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - It was a busy Gator weekend and a lot of good things happened, but as we have now hit the month of March and with Selection Sunday just under two weeks away, let’s talk Gator Hoops.

The Gator men beat Kentucky in Lexington and that doesn’t happen very often; just 11 times to be exact, and now coach Mike White has two of those wins.

We all know this is not one of Kentucky’s best teams but it was the way that Florida won this game that was impressive. Early on, Kentucky was running and hitting shots and living at the free-throw line and they looked very comfortable on the offensive end.

Then, coach White... you know, the guy that some think can’t coach... went to a zone defense and, in my opinion, that proved to be the difference in the game. It slowed the Wildcats down, they committed 15 turnovers and they had trouble getting quality shots, only hitting 4-of-20 from the three-point line.

And for those who say players don’t improve under White, witness one Tre Mann who was outstanding again in this game. He has upped his game immensely, and for the second straight game, he was terrific - scoring, hitting key shots and handling the team from the point guard spot.

And as good as Mann was, a lot of his teammates helped out in this game with Colin Castleton, Anthony Duruji and Tyree Appleby all pitching in with double-digit point efforts. Perhaps more importantly, Florida gets a big Quadrant One win as they try to move up from their projected seven or eight seed line for the NCAA tournament. Enjoy the ride!

Meanwhile, the Florida Women’s Basketball team ended its regular season and will now get ready for the SEC Tournament.

It’s been tough for coach Cam Newbauer this year and for this program, which has not really been consistent since the days of Carol Ross, as it continues to fight to be relevant in the SEC and nationally.

Fact is, the program isn’t there yet but there are signs it is getting there; Newbauer has certainly recruited well and his teams have played well this year against good competition but have fallen just short. Florida will lose seniors Danielle Rainey and Kiki Smith and Smith and the injured Lavendar Briggs are the highest-scoring duo in program history at 38 points a game.

Next year will be a big year, in my opinion, for Newbauer and his program, to see if they can start to penetrate the upper tier of a very strong SEC. It will be his fifth season at the helm of this program and while improvement is great, more positive results are necessary.

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