SEC basketball: Florida’s Billy Donovan pushes for a breather

Florida snipped down the nets at the O’Connell Center to finally celebrate its Southeastern Conference title.

The top-ranked Gators also have a double-bye in the SEC tournament and may be in line for the top overall seed when the NCAA tournament opens.

But Florida coach Billy Donovan thinks another spoil should go to the Gators (28-2) if they win the SEC tournament.

Try an extra day off, as in not playing in the Round of 64 until next Friday.

“(The NCAA) needs to do something about moving any teams playing in championship games on Sunday,” Donovan said during the SEC coaches teleconference Monday. “They should not have to play until Friday.”

His reasoning: a packed schedule in a short time frame.

For example, the winner of the SEC tournament may have to commute back to their campus, begin prep work Monday, fly out Tuesday to a regional site, conduct an open shootaround for the public Wednesday and play Thursday.

“That’s awfully difficult for teams playing their championships on Sundays,” Donovan said.

A noble suggestion, but it may be hard for many to pity Florida’s plight, especially the No. 16 seed and low-major program slated to face the Gators.

Hogs look to bounce back

Until pulling up to Coleman Coliseum on Saturday, no team aside from Florida had been hotter than Arkansas.

During a six-game winning streak, Arkansas locked up a season sweep of Kentucky and jackhammered Ole Miss to the tune of 110-80 in its home finale.

With bracketologists penciling the Hogs into their projections, a road trip to Alabama seemed straight-forward: Win and further lock up a bid.

Instead, they played “probably the worst half of basketball that I’ve ever been associated with,” coach Mike Anderson said.

Arkansas went 4-of-23 from the floor in the first half, and trailed 39-16 going to the locker room in what ended as a 25-point loss.

“We normally score 16 points in maybe a minute and a half, two minutes,” Anderson said.

Fifth-seeded Arkansas probably needs to beat the winner of the first-round game between Auburn and South Carolina and might also need to beat No. 4 seed Tennessee in the quarterfinals to assure a spot in the field.

So what do they with the tape?

“We burned it,” Anderson said.

Martin takes a break

South Carolina coach Frank Martin had a day off from work Saturday.

Not by his choosing, though.

Martin was suspended last week after ESPNU cameras caught him unleashing a profane outburst at freshman point guard Duane Notice during a loss to Florida. Athletic Director Ray Tanner sat his second-year coach for what he “deemed inappropriate verbal communication.”

On Monday, Martin divulged his activities while the Gamecocks (12-19) notched a 74-52 victory over Mississippi State.

“It was hard,” Martin said. “I was at my daughter’s cheerleading competition, which gave me sanity and gave me peace sitting there and watching my own daughter compete. That kept my emotions in her, and not in the situation, me not being able to be with my team.”

Georgia’s Fox optimistic

Under different circumstances, Georgia would enter the SEC tournament shoring up its seed for March Madness.

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs came slow out of the block with a 6-6 nonconference record, making their 12-6 league record and tying Kentucky for second place in the standings almost irrelevant.

No NCAA tournament gurus have the Bulldogs (18-12) among the teams just missing out on a spot in the field of 68.

Still, coach Mark Fox is optimistic.

“I don’t know if we have to win it, but it’d sure take the stress out if we do,” he said.