On a three-game winning streak and looking to be victorious against a long-time rival, the No. 11/12 Florida Gators travel to Athens, GA to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Friday to discuss his team heading into the upcoming game.
YEGUETE’S ABSENCE CREATES OPPORTUNITIES FOR LARSON, PRATHER
Florida was excited to get sophomore forward Will Yeguete back on Tuesday after the defensive specialist missed just one game after suffering a concussion. The Gators were less enthused when Yeguete (broken foot) got injured in the second half of Tuesday’s game and was ruled out for the remainder of the season.
“No question he’s our most complete defensive player of what he can do because you can press with him in a great way, he can guard other people’s frontcourt players, you can switch with him and he can guard other people’s perimeter players. As a defender and a rebounder, he’s one of our more complete guys,” Donovan said on Friday.
“I’m disappointed he’s hurt. I’m disappointed he’s out. But there’s an opportunity for Casey Prather to grow here and really step up, for Cody Larson to step up, for our team to take on this challenge. A lot of times losing a key player is a great life lesson or teaching lesson for them to come together and try to overcome however you got to do it. It’s a great challenge.”
As Donovan noted, Prather and Larson are the two bench players who will most likely earn addition minutes in place of Yeguete. However, it will be a complete team effort to replace him on the court, something it appears as if the players realize.
“It’s a tough situation for him obviously. He’s a big part of this team. Mentally just knowing you’re not coming back the rest of the season is tough to deal with,” junior F Erik Murphy said. “The players know everybody needs to step up, do more and fill in the [blanks] that he left.”
Though Prather will see some time at the four, it will most likely be Larson who gets the most additional court time as Murphy and sophomore center Patric Young will also be shifted around and played in different lineups. Both Donovan and Murphy are confident that Larson can help Florida – especially on one end of the court.
“He knows what he’s doing defensively and he can physically battle inside,” Donovan said. “He is not totally confident offensively. He’s not really a scoring threat. Cody defends and impacts the game – not necessarily like Will does – but with the things that he can do.”
Murphy added, “Cody’s gotten a lot better since last year and he’s continuing to improve throughout the season as he gets more experience. He’s a physical guy. He plays hard. He puts his body in the right places.”
HISTORY AND STREAKS
» Florida leads the all-time series against Georgia 106-96; the Gators have won 15 of the last 17 meetings between the two teams, and UF is 9-5 at UGA under Donovan.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 19 of 28 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 679 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» The Gators enter Saturday’s contest on a three-game winning streak while the Bulldogs are on a three-game losing streak.
» Florida, offensive juggernauts this season (first in the SEC, No. 18 nationally), will face a Bulldogs defense ranked No. 3 in the SEC.
» The Gators are 287-37 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points.
» Florida has won 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season after defeating Alabama. That mark is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.
» The Gators are undefeated (17-0) this year when posting a positive assist-to-turnover ratio and just 5-6 when that margin is even or negative.
» Struggling from the line in nonconference action, UF is shooting a league-best 75.3 percent from the charity stripe.
WALKER CLIMBING UP ALL-TIME LISTS
Senior point guard Erving Walker is steadily making his way up a number of Florida’s career lists, moving into No. 1 all-time in assists (515) and already holding the top mark for career three-point attempts. Below are some of the achievements he is about to make in UF’s record books.
» Minutes: Walker (4,068) can move into No. 1 all-time in time on the court by playing 33 more minutes, passing Eugene McDowell (4,100).
» Three-pointers made: Walker (273) can move into No. 2 all-time with two treys, passing Brett Nelson (274).
» Scoring: Walker (1,678) can move into No. 3 all-time with 104 points, passing Udonis Haslem (1,781).
» Free throws made: Walker (413) can move into No. 6 all-time with 35 makes from the charity stripe, passing Andrew Moten (447).
» Free throws attempted: Walker (522) can move into No. 7 all-time with four foul shots, passing Dan Cross (525).
» Games Played/Started: Walker has played in 135 games and started 104, placing him No. 7 and No. 10 on the respective all-time lists.