No. 7 Florida at Auburn preview: Prather cleared

Location: Auburn Arena – Auburn, AL [Capacity: 9,121]
Date/Time: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Joe Davis, Joe Dean) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 136/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
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(7) FLORIDA GATORS AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Tony Barbee
Record: 14-2 (3-0 SEC) Record: 8-6 (0-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -8

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Auburn actually leads Florida 87-73 in the all-time series, but the Gators boast an 18-4 record under Donovan. UF has won five-straight against AU, 15 of the last 16 and seven in a row on the road.
» The two teams will square off in a home-and-home series this season for the first time since 1991. Florida won both games by a combined five points.
» The Gators on Tuesday broke program record for longest home winning streak. UF has now won 25-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to last season when it went undefeated in its home gym. The streak is the third-longest nationally.
» Florida is on an eight -game winning streak and has won 13 of its last 14 games.
» The Gators are 66-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 6-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. UF is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» The Gators on Tuesday used their seventh different starting lineup in 16 games.
» UF is 1-2 in true road games this season.

INJURY UPDATES

Donovan started off by announcing that senior forward Casey Prather, who has missed consecutive games with a “pretty significant” bone bruise and fluid build-up in his knee, was cleared to do contact work on Friday. However, even if Prather plays, he will likely be on a minutes limit. “I’ll have a better feel for what he can do after practice,” Donovan said, “but he’s cleared to practice and cleared to play in the game.”

He also noted that senior center Patric Young is still battling tendinitis in his knee and has missed some practice time to give his joints a break.

“He’s a veteran guy. He’s an experienced guy. I’m certainly not going to sit him out of an entire practice. He doesn’t have what Will Yeguete has where Will Yeguete legitimately needs a day off from time to time, which we’ll provide to him,” explained Donovan. “But Patric needs to do a good job communicating, where maybe cut down some of his reps in practice. Maybe instead of being out there for every single rep, he’s out there for half the reps. … He’s very, very conscientious in terms of getting treatment, rehab, trying to stay on it. But he’s got to do a better job communicating what he’s feeling, what he’s experiencing at a given time.”

Young has no concerns going forward: “[My knees] feel pretty good. Ready to go.”


AVOIDING THE TRAP

Florida has beaten some good teams in some tough environments through the first half of the 2013-14 campaign. Heading on the road to face an Auburn team that is just one game over .500 and winless in league play could be a situation in which the Gators take their opponent lightly and unexpectedly struggle or lose to the Tigers.

Young does not believe that will happen with his team’s current mindset.

“We talked after our practice [Thursday] and Duke [Werner] was talking about how when it comes down to those last four or five games in the SEC, when you’re trying to close it out, we’re not going to want to look back and say, ‘Oh, man we should have pulled out that game. We know we could have won it,’” he explained.

“So we have to go into this game [focused]. Auburn is a good team. All the games they have lost this year in conference have been close. It’s not as though they have been blown out. It could have gone either way for those guys. We have to go in there with a humble mindset knowing we have a fight on our hands.”

NOTES & QUOTES

» Donovan on Florida’s experience playing a factor in ensuring Auburn is not a trap game: “That’s something that we’ve talked about. I think Auburn is clearly much, much better this year than they were last year. … This is a totally different team and I think our guys have to realize it’s a totally different team we’re playing this year.”

» Donovan on if it is easier for the Gators to defend a team with all of its points coming from one position group (backcourt): “I think Tony Barbee has done a great job of putting those guys in situations to be very, very effective. They put those guys in good places on the court where you can’t get a lot of help. They’re isolated a lot of times. They’re a good enough three-point shooting team that if you just starting running at them, they’re going to be able to swing the ball and move it. Because of the spacing and their ability – to score, drive, pull-up and make mid-range jump shots, layups and threes – the more help you give the more it frees up their frontcourt to offensive rebound. That’s what they’ve done. They’ve really offensive rebounded well.”

» Donovan on former Florida assistant Richard Pitino and his Minnesota team pulling off a big upset over Ohio State: “I was happy for Richard. He’s going to do a great job there. I think Tubby [Smith] left him a pretty solid team.”

» Donovan on if he taught Pitino to remove his jacket and sling it: “Mine comes off way before I get upset.”

» Donovan on if the Gators are enjoying their success: “I think that they’ve enjoyed it. I still think that we can make some strides and we can still get better. … I think these guys have kind of shifted their mindset a little bit and are saying, ‘We needed struggle, we needed adversity, this is going to help us get better.’ I’m not sure that mentality was there a few years ago. It was, ‘This is too hard [or] this is too tough [or] it’s not my fault,’ or you have a tendency to cast blame elsewhere. I think they’ve done a good job of understanding … if life was just easy all the way through, there would be no chance to grow. And no one likes struggle, but the sooner you can realize that the struggle and that stuff, there’s a lot of good things that can come out of it. You may not get the results at the end of the day, but you’re going to learn a lot and have a real opportunity to grow.”

» Young on whether he finds enjoyment in the game: “The whole process is the enjoyment part. There’s a lot of ups and downs and a lot of getting yelled at sometimes but when you see those Ws getting thrown up every single night and everything is clicking and you’re really connected with your teammates, just knowing you’re not in it alone, you’ve got guys that are going to lift you up, that’s where the enjoyment comes.”

» Donovan on if he lightens things up for the team on occasion: “We joke here and there and we’ll have some fun on different things. I’d say for the most part between the lines it’s pretty serious. I think, off the court, we probably joke and rib each other a little bit more and have some enjoyment there. There’s a difference. I tell our guys all the time that if you want to have fun, go to Southwest Rec[reational Center] and go play pick-up ball and play on your terms. But I think when you’re playing in a competitive environment like this, you can’t play on your terms. There’s certain things that go into winning. There’s certain things that go into performing and playing the right way and playing together and being a team. That’s where the fun lies.”

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7 Responses to “No. 7 Florida at Auburn preview: Prather cleared”

  1. John says:

    Did they just not ask him about Chris Walker?

  2. Timmy T says:

    This team will do great things. The recipe is just about perfect. Just need the ball to bounce our way when we have to have it.

  3. John says:

    In your opinion, when and at this point I’ll say if the NCAA will clear Chris Walker?

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