Friday , Mar , 10 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Gators begin defense of SEC Tournament title against Hogs

(Sports Network) – The 16th-ranked Florida Gators begin defense of
their SEC Tournament title tonight, when they challenge the Arkansas
Razorbacks in the quarterfinal round from the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
The winner will meet either Vanderbilt or LSU in the semifinals on Saturday.
With a pair of wins to close out the regular season, Florida was able to
capture the second seed out of the East Division and a opening-round bye
with a 10-6 finish in league play. The team has also posted a 24-6 overall
mark, matching the school record for the most wins before heading into the
postseason. Florida won their first and only SEC Tournament title last season
and has appeared in the finals each of the past two years, losing to
Kentucky in 2004. The Gators have won at least one game in this event
every year since 1994, with the exception of 2003, and owns a 25-39 all-time
record in the SEC Tournament.

As for Arkansas, it has caught fire at the right moment and enters tonight’s
title with a six-game win streak. The Razorbacks finished with the same
league record as Florida (10-6), but landed the third seed out of the West
Division. With that seed came an opening-round contest, which the team
won rather easily over Georgia, 80-67, on Thursday. With the win, Arkansas
improved to 22-8 overall and 15-13 all-time in the SEC Tournament, as it
remained in the hunt for its first title since 2000. The Razorbacks own a
9-7 edge in the all-time series with Florida, including an 85-81 overtime win
in the lone meeting between the two during the regular season.

Arkansas forced 22 turnovers which led to 28 points in an 80-67 quarterfinal-
round win over Georgia on Thursday. The Razorbacks shot 44.6 percent from the
field in the game and also converted 16-of-21 free-throw attempts. Jonathon
Modica led the way with 20 points, while Ronnie Brewer added 18 points, five
assists and three steals.

Brewer has performed at high level all season long and ranks among the top
scorers in the SEC with an average of 18.6 ppg. He also leads the team
with 75 steals, and he is even grabbing 4.7 rpg and handing out 3.2
apg. Modica has provided a nice complement to Brewer and is contributing
16.1 ppg and 4.1 rpg, while shooting 36.0 percent from long distance. As
a team, the Razorbacks have done a solid job at the offensive end, netting
74.4 ppg on 46.1 percent shooting from the field.

The Gators are one of the most explosive teams in the SEC, as they enter the
postseason averaging a robust 80.4 ppg on 50.8 percent shooting from the floor
and 38.7 percent from long range. All five of the team’s regular starters are
currently averaging double figures in points with Joakim Noah’s 14.1 ppg
leading the way. Noah is also grabbing 6.5 rpg and making good on 66.1 percent
of his field goal attempts. Taurean Green is next in line at 13.6 ppg and he
has been responsible for running the offense with a team-high 5.0 apg. Corey
Brewer has done a little of everything for Florida, as he is contributing 12.4
ppg, 4.9 rpg and 3.7 apg. Al Horford adds 11.5 ppg and a team-high 7.4 rpg to
the Gators’ arsenal, while Lee Humphrey chips in with 10.4 ppg on the strength
of 46.1 percent shooting from behind the arc.