The Weekend Review is late, but today is a holiday, so deal with it.
Florida men rebound to drop Rebels
As I wrote on Saturday, there was nothing to seriously complain about in Florida's 80-71 win over Mississippi in Oxford. The Gators had one of their hottest shooting nights of the year, KeVaughn Allen lit up Mississippi for 27 points on just 11 shots, Stefan Moody was held largely in check, and Florida held a double-digit lead for more than 35 minutes of game clock.
After a midweek loss to Texas A&M in which poor shooting helped squander a chance at a big upset, the Gators played about as well as they have all year, and certainly better than they had in any road game to this point.
Women's hoops comes back to top LSU
Florida's No. 20 ranking probably isn't long for this world, not after the Gators' disappointing loss to Georgia in a midweek home game. But the way Florida played against LSU on Sunday was heartening, if not until very late in the contest.
The short-handed Tigers played just seven players for more than a minute, but used a combination of ferocious half-court defense that created 24 Florida turnovers and disciplined offense that drained the clock to enter the fourth quarter with a 38-33 lead. It would swell to 40-33, and the Gators didn't dent it until the 5:58 mark of the period.
When they did, though, they erased the Tigers' advantage with a 15-3 run — sparked by seven of freshman Eleanna Christinaki's team-leading 15 points on the night — that secured the lead for good, allowing the Gators to pull away for a 53-45 win.
Ronni Williams had 11 points and nine rebounds to help bolster Florida, but this game turned on Christinaki's play-making (she also threaded a no-look behind-the-back pass earlier in the game) and timely shooting. And it's quite clear that she's the Gators' most promising performer for situations in which their offense, typically fueled by pressure, turnovers, and pace, can't get untracked.
If the Gators are going to get back into the national rankings, or make noise in the SEC or in the NCAA Tournament this season, it may well be their freakishly talented Greek freshman who leads the charge.
Gymnastics vaults Bruins
UCLA has six NCAA gymnastics national titles, tied with Alabama for third-most in the sport's history. And the last time the Bruins had been in Gainesville prior to Friday night's meet with the three-time defending national champions, they had hoisted that sixth title.
Florida stood tall on the evening anyway, coming away with an emphatic 197.625-196.925 victory.
Bridget Sloan won her 20th career all-around title with a 39.650 that included scores of 9.9 or better on every apparatus but vault, Kennedy Baker and Alicia Boren tied for second in the all-around at 39.575, and Florida produced marks of 49.300 or better on all four rotations to ease to a win over the talented Bruins.
The Gators' overall score was the highest so far this year by a substantial half-point margin, albeit in a very young season. It also moves Florida to No. 1 nationally, and the Gators are No. 1 on both the balance beam and uneven bars, the two apparatuses that haven't traditionally been strengths for Florida.
And given that Florida's No. 3 on vault and No. 4 on the floor without a truly outstanding night on either apparatus to date, well, this is shaping up to be another very good year for the Gators.
Florida assured of Super Bowl representative
The NFL playoffs continued over the weekend, as you may have heard. And three of the four teams remaining have Gators on their rosters, which makes more than just a 14th consecutive season in which a Gator has been on a Super Bowl team's roster.
The New England Patriots (Jon Bostic and Dominique Easley) and Denver Broncos (Andre Caldwell, Max Garcia, and Lerentee McCray) each advanced in the AFC, and so the AFC's Super Bowl team will have at least two Gators on it. But that was true even before this weekend: The last four AFC teams alive all had at least two Gators — the Kansas City Chiefs (Frankie Hammond and Jaye Howard) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Marcus Gilbert, David Nelson, and Maurkice Pouncey) were vanquished on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The NFC's lone remaining team with a Gator, meanwhile, managed to move on. While the Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, and Seattle Seahawks are all technically Gator-less, Arizona Cardinals tackle D.J. Humphries advanced thanks to the Cardinals' dramatic overtime win over the Packers on Saturday night. If the Cardinals top the Panthers, at least one Florida alum will win a ring for the fourth straight season.
If not, well, you might want to root for the AFC in the Super Bowl, lest you start trying to justify Cam Newton as a former Gator.
The best of the rest
Florida's men's tennis team began its 2016 spring season by dominating Troy and Stetson in 6-1 and 7-0 wins. ... Gators golfers Jorge Garcia and Alejandro Tosti finished second and third at the Latin American Amateur over the weekend. ... Florida's baseball team is now the preseason No. 1 in three major polls, something we'll revisit in February.