Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
SiriusXM: 92/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
|FLORIDA GATORS||MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS|
|Head Coach: Billy Donovan||Head Coach: Rick Ray|
|Record: 8-6 (1-0 SEC)||Record: 7-7 (0-1 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
Odds: -17.5 | O/U 115
HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS
» Florida is 60-49 all-time against Mississippi State with a 13-8 record under Donovan (7-2 in Gainesville) with four-straight victories in the series.
» The Gators were 86-10 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 71 points in a game; UF is 7-5 this season when doing so.
» Florida has put forward 10 different starting lineups in 14 regular-season games. Overall, 10 players have started at least one game for UF this season.
» The Gators learned to win close games last season, going 15-2 in contests decided by single digits; Florida is 3-5 in such affairs this season.
» UF is on pace for 17.7 wins in the regular season while looking for its 17th consecutive season with 20+ victories. Florida’s 16-straight campaigns with that many wins is the longest streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally. Only eight coaches have ever won 20+ games in 14+ consecutive seasons.
» Earlier this season, Miami snapped Florida’s program-record 33-game home winning streak, which dated back to Nov. 11, 2012, and was the second-longest in the nation. The Canes also broke the Gators’ school-record 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, which dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.
» Florida is on two program-record winning streaks – 19-straight games against SEC opponents overall (since Jan. 8, 2014) and 18-straight SEC games at home (since Jan. 9, 2013). UF has also won a school-record 10-in-a-row over SEC opponents on the road (since Jan. 11, 2014).
INJURIES AND ABSENCES
» Probable (1): Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter (foot)
» Questionable (1): Junior G Michael Frazier II (illness)
» Out (3): Redshirt senior center Jon Horford (coach’s decision), sophomore C John Egbunu (transfer – season), freshman guard Brandone Francis (academics – season)
After being benched on Wednesday, Frazier has been ruled questionable for Saturday’s game with a upper respiratory infection. Though he is expected to play, Fraizer will once again come off the bench even though Donovan was pleased with how he bounced back from his discipline earlier in the week.
“I was really proud of him. I wasn’t proud of the fact he shot the ball well, but I was proud it looked like it he was back to himself where he was really focused on competing and playing. I liked that,” Donovan explained. “Even the shots he missed – that’s the biggest problem with Michael. Sometimes when he misses shots, he gets totally taken out of the game, and he has be able to stay with it and stick with it because the next one that comes, he has to be in the right frame of mind to shoot it.”
NOT SUSPENDED … BUT NOT PLAYING
Through freshman walk-on Zach Hodskins remains suspended, Donovan announced Friday that he reinstated Horford after he did not travel to South Carolina on Wednesday due to conduct detrimental to the team. However, Horford will not suit up and play on Saturday, despite being on the bench with his teammates.
Donovan said he sat down with Horford, who is prepared to be fully invested in the team and doing what is necessary to contribute in every way possible.
“I think he needed a little bit of time, and we’re going to give him that,” said Donovan of Horford. “I think he’s an important guy for us going forward, and I really want him totally bought in. I shouldn’t say ‘bought in.’ He’s bought in, but I want him to get to a place where he can really invest like he needs to invest. I’m not saying he hasn’t invested but there’s also some times where I would think even he would admit that he can invest and give even more. And it’s not with his work ethic. It’s with his emotion and his passion and those kind of things.”
Donovan continued: “It wasn’t like this unbelievably bad thing he did. It’s just his attitude at that point and time coming into UConn was not where it needed to be. We’ve moved past that; it’s beyond that right now. … So I want to give him some space where he can really jump back in with the emotional and mental and physical passion that I know he can bring our team.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan on sophomore point guard Kasey Hill: “He needs to play faster. … From the time he gets the ball to the time he gets across half court, he needs to play fast. From there, that’s when he’s got to start to make better decisions. Jumping off of one leg, leaving the floor and being caught in the air with nowhere to go, charging over a guy – when he gets into the lane, that’s where the game has to slow down and he has to slow down and make better choices and decisions and do better things. That part of it, the ending part is good, but sometimes he can glide the ball up the court. He’s got an incredible speed that he needs to use to the best of his ability.”
» Donovan on Hill and Florida’s propensity for turning the ball over: “We’ve got to do a better job handling the ball. I thought there were some times we did a really good job of taking care of it. … When Kasey goes one assist, six turnovers, I think anytime your point guard’s got those kind of numbers – assists to turnovers – that’s always concerning. Kasey and I watched some film together [Thursday] on some of those things. We’ll try to get better and work on them. … I thought the turnovers were too high, but at the same point, I wasn’t really disappointed. Kasey is the one guy I’d like to see do a better job.”
» Donovan on what he wants the Gators’ culture to be like: “When I look at the best teams I’ve coached, the first thing that comes to mind is an enormous amount of love and care and acceptance for each other. So I would say that’s the foundation currently right now. We’ve got to really care about each other. And when you’re playing a team sport, you’re always as good as the guy standing next to you. What kind of investment are you going to make into the next guy? And that’s in a lot of different ways. That can be some guy after giving those guys a water break, running and grabbing a guy a bottle of water. It could be those guys going to dinner together. There’s things where you see guys reach out and they show that kind of love, care and acceptance for one another. Another thing too that’s big for me is being unselfish. Being an unselfish basketball team and thinking about others first. Try to invest. … I expect our guys to work really hard. I expect them to really, really work not only in basketball but in school and in the weight room, work to be the best they can be. And then obviously when games comes, it’s about competition. ”
» Donovan on Mississippi State: “Rick Ray has done a really good job. … He’s got more depth, a team that has more experience. The last couple of years, they’ve been a really inexperienced team. They rebound the ball well, they’re very good on defense, they’re good with their hands, and a good steals team. There will be some similarities to South Carolina in terms of the pressure we’ll face and then obviously there will be some differences. They mix up their defenses; they plan man and zone. They full-court press you some. They do a lot of different things, and it will be a great challenge for us.”