|No. 6/7 FLORIDA GATORS||AUBURN TIGERS|
|Head Coach: Billy Donovan||Head Coach: Tony Barbee|
|Record: 20-3 (10-1 SEC)||Record: 9-15 (3-8 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
Location: Auburn Arena – Auburn, AL [Capacity: 9,121]
Time: 1:30 p.m. EST
TV: SEC Network (Clay Matvick, Joe Dean) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 93/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app
Odds: TBD | O/U TBD
NOT-SO-GREAT MEMORIES AT AUBURN
Taking on Auburn this Saturday in a game that is sure to have plenty of good seats available, Florida is looking to win its fifth-straight contest in the series and 15th in the last 16 meetings between the two teams.
And while the Tigers do hold a 87-72 all-time record against the Gators, head coach Billy Donovan has dominated Saturday’s hosts by winning 17 of the 21 games he has coached including six of eight at Auburn.
However, the last time Florida came to town (Jan. 20, 2011), it was truly anyone’s game. The Gators shot 28.3 percent from the field and 19.2 percent from downtown, needing eight-straight points to come back from a three-point deficit with two minutes left.
Reflecting back on that game during a media availability on Thursday, Donovan said an overriding lesson can be learned from how the team persevered that day.
“What it shows is when you’re playing in a league, regardless of who you’re playing against, if you don’t come out and you don’t play well, it’s really, really hard to win. That was probably a game for us that we were fortunate to win,” he said. “Almost being three years ago, I don’t know what we take from that game in particular just because I think both teams are different. But at the same point, that game is no different than right now any game you play. You have to come in and you really have to play well because if you don’t play well, it’s hard to win.”
With a starting lineup featuring four seniors and one junior, Florida’s experience can help it overcome many – but not all – of the obstacles teams face during the season.
“Our guys have been through a lot in terms of their own personal experiences playing,” Donovan said. “Those guys have been through a lot, and I think that they know what to expect. With all that being said, if you don’t come and you don’t play well, it doesn’t make a difference how much experience you have.”
MAKING AN IMPACT OFF THE BENCH
Just as he was last year when he played big minutes for the Gators down the stretch, junior forward Casey Prather has made his presence known ever since classmate Will Yeguete (knee) went down with another injury. He has scored a season-high of 12 points in each of Florida’s last two games and done so efficiently, combining to hit 11-of-17 shots from the field. He has also combined for eight rebounds, two assists and three blocks over the same stretch while giving great energy and effort off the bench and ensuring that UF did not lose a step defensively.
Donovan on Thursday had plenty of praise for Prather and his impact thus far.
“The thing I’m most pleased about with Casey is… I really felt like when Will got hurt and [Prather] was dealing with his high-ankle sprain, he really, I thought, made a collective commitment all the way around [to] come in here and do extra rehab, come in here and get extra workouts in on his own understanding that he was going to have to step up. I think him maybe being a junior right now, maturity-wise he understood that he needed to get back,” he said.
“I think Casey felt like maybe coming out of last year at the end of the year with Will, he had stepped up and given us some great minutes in the SEC Tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament. So I think he had a confidence that he can do it because he’s done it before. The unfortunate part for Casey this year, to me, has been that every time he has kind of gotten back and started to do good [he got injured]. … The one thing I think he can hold on to is the facts that he has had success at this level. He has performed well in some big games, and he has helped our team win.”
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Senior guard Kenny Boynton is in his fourth year as a starter for the Gators. He is quickly making his way up many of Florida’s all-time lists and is already first in school history in three-point field goals made (311) and attempted (903). He currently leads the SEC in career points (1,886) and three-pointers among active players and is sixth all-time in SEC history in three-pointers made.
1. Ronnie Williams – 2,090 points
2. Andrew Moten – 1,930 points
3. Kenny Boynton – 1,886 points
1. Erving Walker – 4,358
2. Kenny Boynton – 4,236
1. Kenny Boynton – 128
1. Andrew DeClerq – 128
Field goal attempts
1. Stacey Poole – 1,578
2. Andrew Moten – 1,572
3. Kenny Boynton – 1,538
Field goals made
1. Ronnie Williams – 772
7. Udonis Haslem – 633
8. Kenny Boynton – 617
1. Walter Hodge – 151
7. Lee Humphrey – 136
8. Kenny Boynton – 131
8. Matt Bonner – 131
Boynton is also approaching the top 10 in free throws made (nine away – 341) and assists (one away – 366).