Florida rolls in the O'Dome
On a weekend tagged as #UFillTheDome weekend, Florida fans more than packed the O'Connell Center to see the Gators' gymnastics and men's and women's basketball teams.
Those teams rewarded the fans with wins.
It began on Friday night, as Florida's tumblers matched their three consecutive national titles with as many perfect 10s against Alabama, from Kennedy Baker, Alex McMurtry, and Bridget Sloan, helping the Gators put up the nation's newest high score and dust Alabama.
It continued on Saturday, as the Gators welcomed No. 9 West Virginia to Gainesville for the Big 12-SEC Challenge, and promptly served as cruel hosts, raining 12 threes and getting 24 points from Dorian Finney-Smith in an 88-71 rout that should do plenty to help Florida's NCAA Tournament chances.
And it concluded on Sunday with the Florida women's basketball team's third win over a ranked team in 2015-16, as the Gators held off Kentucky in an 85-79 barn-burner before their largest crowd of the season. Simone Westbrook led Florida with a career-high 20 points, and freshman sensation Eleanna Christinaki scored 12 points (including the game's final five) and dished a career-high 11 assists for her second career double-double in the win, and the Gators came through down the stretch after allowing an 18-8 run in the fourth quarter.
Florida's gymnastics team remains No. 1 nationally, the men's basketball team is also receiving votes in both polls, and the Gators women hoopers are a lock to return to the national top 25 after spending a week as the first team out. Moreover, Florida's combined attendance for the three events easily eclipsed the school's 22,000-fan goal for #UFillTheDome: 23,709 people attended the three events.
Sanders sets new school record, Jefferson runs world-leading time
Florida's track teams didn't have the weekend they wanted at the Razorback Invitational in Arkansas, with the women finishing fourth and the men a distant sixth in a loaded field, and Mike Holloway calling out senior leadership on the men's side as a result.
But two Gators did star: Shayla Sanders ran a blazing 7.17 in the 60 meters to set a new school record and win the event, and Kyra Jefferson's 22.72 in the 200 meters was hundredths of a second off her personal record and a world-leading time for the 2016 season.
That speaks to a women's team slightly ahead of schedule, and a men's team that struggled to find its form in its first big challenge of the season. With plenty of time left to go, there's room for improvement.
The best of the rest
Florida's No. 20 men's tennis team lost a hard-fought 4-3 match against No. 8 USC when Alfredo Perez fell, 6-7 (5-7), 5-7 in No. 3 singles. The Gators play UCLA on Monday. ... Florida's men's and women's swimming and diving teams swept Tennessee in their final action before the SEC Championships, which begin February 16.