Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST
|(6) FLORIDA GATORS||TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS|
|Head Coach: Billy Donovan||Head Coach: Cuonzo Martin|
|Record: 16-2 (5-0 SEC)||Record: 12-6 (3-2 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
|Roster | Schedule||Roster | Schedule|
Odds: Florida -8.5 | O/U: 129
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Tennessee leads Florida 72-52 in the all-time series, and the Gators are just 16-18 against the Vols under Donovan. However, UF is 32-24 against UT at home, 10-6 in games coached by Donovan.
» Florida is looking to break a three-game losing streak to Tennessee; Martin is 3-0 against Donovan since taking over the Vols.
» Saturday marks Donovan’s 600th game at UF.
» The Gators are on a 10 -game winning streak and have won 15 of its last 16 games.
» Florida is currently riding a school-record 25-game home winning streak (third longest in the nation) with 11 wins in a row against SEC opponents in the O’Dome.
» Saturday marks the first of consecutive Thursday-Saturday turnarounds for the Gators. UF’s senior class is 9-1 overall in its last five Thursday-Saturday situations having swept four-straight instances when playing two games in that three-day period.
» Florida is 8-2 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 are 68-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» 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.
» An unranked UT team is hoping to knock off a ranked UF squad for the 12th time.
» 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.
» UF has used seven different starting lineups in 18 games.
» Florida’s four seniors reached the 100 career wins on Thursday. That benchmark has only been reached by 11 other players in school history.
Read the rest of the Florida-Tennessee preview…after the break!
WHAT’S AT STAKE / PLAYER TO WATCH
The Gators have faced a number of challenges this season – injuries, suspensions and the like – but will be faced with another tough test Saturday when they face the Volunteers in a Thursday-Saturday turnaround. Not only that, but Florida was forced to spend Thursday night in Alabama due to mechanical problems on the team’s plane, meaning UF will only have been in Gainesville for 28 hours before tip-off on Saturday. The Gators have another great opportunity to overcome an obstacle and grow as a team, both of which should help the program come tournament time.
» Redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith (#10) has come on for Florida over the last two weeks, exploding on the road at Arkansas with a double-double of 22 points and 15 rebounds, scoring 14 points the next game against Georgia and then grabbing 11 boards on Thursday at Alabama. Though his shooting percentages remain lower than Donovan would like, Finney-Smith has also helped the Gators find some buckets from long-range, going 8-for-18 in the last 14 days. He must cut down his turnovers and improve his ability to finish at the rim.
The Volunteers have put up a fight in their two ranked losses this season, which means Tennessee is seething for a win against No. 6 Florida. UT is also looking to extend its winning streak against UF to four games, which would improve Martin to 4-0 when going head-to-head with Donovan. The Vols are also badly in need of a marquee win if they hope to claw their way back into the NCAA Tournament before league play concludes.
» Junior F Jarnell Stokes (#5) dominated Florida on the boards the last time these two teams faced, grabbing 14 rebounds. The Gators, however, were successful in limiting his scoring with Stokes posting just eight points in the contest. He’s now averaging a team-high 9.7 boards for Tennessee along with 13.4 points per game. Expect a big-time battle in the post with Stokes, whose 618 career rebounds is second in the SEC among active players only to Florida senior center Patric Young (721).
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan on Florida having to face Stokes and Jeronne Maymon together: “They’re both really, really good players. I felt bad for Maymon last year. He had such a good year before he got injured. Certainly I think it changed their team last year. This year, obviously having him back, they have the ability to go really, really physical up front with he and Stokes. And then also they can go a little bit smaller as well. So he’s a big, strong, physical guy. … Those two guys are really, really good frontcourt players. They rebound the ball very well. I think they’re one and three in the league rebounding-wise, and they give a great effort all the time.”
» Donovan on how the team watches film during a Thursday-Saturday turnaround, especially this time being stuck in Alabama overnight: “Basically just set up shop in a room and start watching tape. Watching tape of the Alabama game, watching tape of Tennessee. … In this league, when you play Thursday-Saturday, you’re dealing with some of that. So instead of watching tape on the flight home and getting in [Friday] morning and coming in here, it just kind of was a little bit different. We were able to stay there and get some work done [Thursday] night and then get some work done on the flight coming in and then be able to sit down as a staff and prepare practice. Wasn’t a whole lot we could do [Friday] physically just with that one day in between and then kind of just being a little bit delayed getting in. But I don’t think that it’s really that big of a deal or issue or problem for us. By the time we would have gotten back here with class and everything else, they would have been up early anyway. So I think those guys got up at 8:30, we left the hotel at 9. We lost an hour coming here and we were back here before noon.”
» Donovan on the Gators doing well in Thursday-Saturday situations: ”It’s quick. I think you have to put last night behind you here, you’ve got to be looking forward, focused on the next game, so to speak. … I think the biggest thing you try to do is you’ve really got to get into the meat and potatoes of what needs to be done: talk about concepts, talk about how you’re going to defend things and things you want to do offensively. And get them focused on the things that they need to be productive in during the game.”
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Young is one of four true seniors on the roster but the only one steadily inching his way up many of Florida’s all-time lists. He has played in 127 career games and will only add to his totals as the season progresses. Earlier this season, Young became just the 50th player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
45. Lee Humphrey – 1,080
46. Walter Hodge – 1,074
47. Patric Young – 1,069
1. Dwayne Schintzius – 272
6. Eugene McDowell – 150
7. Patric Young – 135
Field Goal Percentage (minimum 500 attempts)
1. Dwayne Davis – .641
4. Eugene McDowell – .597
5. Al Horford – .588
6. Ronnie Williams – .585
7. Patric Young – .584
7. Udonis Haslem – .584
Dunks (unofficial statistic)
1. Dwayne Davis – 168
5. Joakim Noah – 130
6. Patric Young – 124
Wins at an SEC school
1. Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) – 875
2. Dale Brown (LSU) – 448
3. Billy Donovan (Florida) – 431