Location: Stegeman Coliseum – Augusta, Georgia [Capacity: 10,523]
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
|FLORIDA GATORS||GEORGIA BULLDOGS|
|Head Coach: Billy Donovan||Head Coach: Mark Fox|
|Record: 10-6 (3-0 SEC)||Record: 10-5 (1-2 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS
» Florida leads the all-time series over Georgia 109-99 with a 26-10 record against its rival under Donovan’s leadership. UF is 10-7 under Donovan when playing UGA in Athens.
» The Gators were 86-10 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 71 points in a game; UF is 9-5 this season when doing so.
» Florida has put forward 10 different starting lineups in 16 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 19.4 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 three program-record regular-season winning streaks – 21-straight games against SEC opponents overall (since Jan. 8, 2014) and 20-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 forward Jacob Kurtz (illness)
» Out (2): Sophomore center John Egbunu (transfer – season), freshman G Brandone Francis (academics – season)
MORE IMPACT NEEDED FROM EXPERIENCED PLAYERS
Dealing with an upper respiratory infection and strep throat, junior guard Michael Frazier II has come off the bench for Florida during its last three games. Though one may expect Frazier to jump back into the starting lineup once fully healthy – which could come as soon as Saturday – Donovan said it may be in the cards to leave him in a bench role as long as it does not affect him otherwise.
“I see it changing going forward down the road, but I’m really basing it on practice, basing it on guys that I feel are really bought into what we’re trying to get done. I think Michael has done that, but you know what, Chris Chiozza and Devin Robinson, those guys have done pretty well, they continue to improve and get better in practice,” Donovan said. “I got a lot of confidence in Michael; I think if you look at his minutes, there’s not a drastic dip in minutes from what he’s playing beforehand. I think that starting position has got to be earned.”
Chiozza has started the last four games for the Gators, while Robinson has been in the starting lineup for three-straight contests. Overall, the freshmen have combined for 15 starts this season due in large part to veterans being injured and absent.
As far as Frazier goes, Donovan is still hoping to see an improvement in leadership and overall skillset. His three-point percentage is down because he is doing so much more on the court, but Frazier needs to be protective of the ball and simply a better leader while out on the hardwood.
“Michael needs to grow and mature in what leadership looks like. This ego part of any player, thinking that they want to put a team on their back, he isn’t capable of putting anybody on his back. So is everybody else on our team; we need to be a team,” the coach said.
“Out of all good intentions … from a leadership standpoint, this has been something that he’s needed to work on and get better and kind of go through. He’s not a bad leader; I think he has a chance to be a great leader, because he cares. It’s a shift of mindset, a shift of focus. In a leadership role, it’s not about what I’m going to do, it’s about how do I impact everybody else around me. That’s what he’s working on.”
On his way to following that advice from Donovan is sophomore point guard Kasey Hill, who has played controlled basketball over his last two games, combining to register 14 assists to just one turnover. Hill also had his jump shot hitting on Thursday as he scored 12 points, but he continues to struggle with simple layups as his momentum either causes him to mistime his attempts or he pushes the ball too hard off the backboard.
“I think Kasey’s greatest struggle as a player is his ability where he gets very, very comfortable. When he does not perform and play well, he gets very, very uncomfortable and then he usually, generally, bounces back. His trick in his career and his life, in my opinion, is going to be his ability to really stay uncomfortable, constantly challenge himself,” Donovan said.
“He’s trying. I’ve noticed a big difference in him from a year ago. I see him trying to be more consistent, trying to be more reliable. But he’s been more consistent than he has in the past, but he’s not consistent to the level where we need him to [be]. That’s where he’s got to get better.”
NO SLEEP ‘TIL ATHENS
Outside of playing in a tournament, Florida’s turnaround to play Georgia on the road Saturday is as quick – and many would say, unfair – as there is in college basketball. The Gators left their home court Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. only to be in action 38.5 hours later on the road against the Bulldogs in Athens.
Suffice to say, it is not an ideal scenario for coaches or players.
“It’s not just myself. It’s every coach in the league. We all talk about the same thing. … We’re open because of TV to be able to do that. … If you’re going to play a Thursday night game, you shouldn’t be called or asked to play until after 5:00,” explained Donovan, who noted that it is all about preparing one’s team. “It’s not an excuse. Everybody’s had to do it here or there. It has been talked about. It’s something that I think the league office and TV, they make those decisions. They’re trying to do that as best they can to handle those situations.”
Donovan also noted that the experience may ultimately be good for Florida, especially if it plans to do well in the SEC Tournament, where the turnaround is less than a full day between games. The Gators also participated in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament earlier this season in which they played three games in consecutive days.
“You’re going to be in these situations anyway if you’re fortunate enough to be in them, so you got to be excited about them, you got to enjoy them. I think every coach will tell you the same thing. After a game, everybody would like to have a few days of practice to clean up and get better and improve and go into the next game. But sometimes the schedule doesn’t work like that,” he said.