Hey! Look! The Weekend Review is back! It runs Mondays.
Men's basketball cruises in SEC home opener
Eli Carter had 20 points and Dorian Finney-Smith added 16 as Florida beat Mississippi State, 72-47, on Saturday in the O'Connell Center.
There's an edition of The Differences coming Tuesday for that game, but this graf from the recap sums up how Florida has dominated the SEC of late nicely:
With the win, Florida's lengthy SEC winning streaks — 23 straight wins against SEC teams, 20 consecutive regular season SEC wins, and 19 consecutive SEC wins at home — are all still intact one week into the conference schedule.
Gymnastics rolls, but Sloan injures foot after 10
Bridget Sloan was Bridget Sloan for the Florida Gators' two-time defending national champion gymnastics team on Sunday at Ball State — a season-opening meet in her home state of Indiana. She notched a 9.95 on uneven bars in the meet's first rotation, then scored the first 10.0 of the young season in the sport with a fantastic vault, giving her perfect scores on three of the four apparatuses used in the sport in her still-young career.
But when Florida hit the floor, Sloan took a hit.
Sloan appeared to hurt her ankle or foot late on a tumbling pass, and tried to hold a position and finish her routine before having to abandon it and seek treatment. She spent much of the rest of the meet on crutches, and did not compete on the balance beam, leaving much of the collegiate gymnastics world holding its breath.
On Monday, Florida coach Rhonda Faehn delivered relatively good news: Sloan's injury was to her foot, but X-rays revealed "no fractures," and the junior is scheduled for an MRI. That's a promising prospect: If Sloan simply sprained or strained muscles in her foot, she will almost certainly be able to return to competition in 2015, but a foot fracture would likely have ended her season.
And given that Sloan is, by most estimates, the best gymnast at the collegiate level, and a more serious injury would have absolutely sideswiped Florida's title defense.
As it was, even without Sloan, and even with a counted fall on the beam and 9.725 counting on the floor exercise, Florida posted a strong 196.925 score, tying its second-best season-opening score ever. The score was the nation's third-best tally through one week of competition, trailing only a 197.625 from fellow defending national champion Oklahoma and a 197.125 from LSU — scores those teams posted in home meets.
Florida has its first home meet of the 2015 season this Friday, as it hosts Auburn, which scored a 194.150 to defeat North Carolina in Chapel Hill over the weekend.
Gators get on track in first meet
Florida's indoor track teams — both ranked No. 1 to begin the 2015 season — got off to a fast start at the 2015 UAB Invitational over the weekend.
Bridgette Owens blazed a school-record 8.10 in the 60-meter hurdles on Friday in a preliminary race, then nearly matched that time with an 8.11 on Saturday to win the event. The 8.10 is the best mark in the world in the event so far in 2015 — all 12 days of it — and smashed Florida's previous school record of 8.17 by Andrea Bliss, which had stood for a decade.
Florida's only other event victory came from Shayla Sanders, who won the 60 meters in 7.45 seconds. Antwan Wright placed second in the 60 meters, while Yanick Hart finished second in the 60-meter hurdles.
It was a small traveling party for the Gators, with only 12 competitors taking part in competition in Birmingham, but four of those competitors — including Owens — notched collegiate bests, with two others making their debuts.
Florida won't hit the track again until late January.
Women's hoops continues SEC struggles
Florida's women's basketball team capped a tough fortnight of SEC play on Sunday, losing 66-47 at Missouri. No Gator made more than three shots, and Cassie Peoples was a woeful 2-for-18 from the field in the loss.
And the defeat dropped Florida to 1-3 in SEC play, with a loss to Mississippi on Thursday — in a game the Gators got within three points after conceding an 18-2 run to begin — preceding the brownout in Columbia, which gave Missouri its first SEC win.
Florida appeared to have found its stride in early December, running off three straight wins, including a road triumph at Georgetown and a thumping of Virginia Tech at home. Since then, though, the Gators are 4-7, and have fallen to 9-8 on the year.
When their backs are to the wall, the Gators seem to play at their best. The team's intensity and focus seem to rise one or more notches and they can make double digit leads disappear against many teams.
All too often this season, Florida has let a lead disappear.
Florida might be fighting back a fair bit in their next outing: The Gators travel to Kentucky on Thursday for the first time since upsetting the Wildcats in Lexington in January 2014, and will get the 'Cats one game after they lost guard Janee Thompson to a dislocated ankle in a loss at top-ranked South Carolina on Sunday.