Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers – Time running out for UF to improve

By Adam Silverstein
February 28, 2015

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 6:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Kara Lawson)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: Watch ESPN app

SiriusXM: 134/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Donnie Tyndall
Record: 13-15 (6-9 SEC) Record: 14-13 (6-9 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -6 | O/U 116


HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS

» Tennessee holds a 72-55 advantage in its long-time series with Florida, but the Gators have earned a 19-18 edge under Donovan. UF is 33-24 all-time at home against UT with an 11-6 record under Donovan.
» Florida is 1-6 in its last seven games and looking to avoid its third losing streak of three games or more in the last six weeks.
» The Gators were 86-10 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 71 points in a game; Florida is 12-11 this season when doing so.
» UF is scoring 64.3 points per game, the third-lowest average in program history (since the statistic was tracked) and worst since 1950-51 (62.7).
» Florida is shooting .432 from the field, its worst mark since 1995-96 (.426) and the second-lowest in program history.
» The Gators are hitting at a .644 clip from the free throw line, their worst average since 1992-93 (.635).
» UF is shooting the three at a rate (.318) that is its fourth-lowest in the 29 years the shot has been part of the game, its worst such mark since 2009-10 (.313).
» The Gators have double-digit losses for the first time since 2011-12. In the last 16 seasons, Donovan has only lost 10+ games six times (including 2014-15).
» Florida has put forward 12 different starting lineups in 28 regular-season games. Overall, 10 players have started at least one game for UF this season. Florida’s current starters do not include a single player averaging in double digits.
» The Gators learned to win close games last season, going 15-2 in contests decided by single digits; Florida is 6-11 in such affairs this season, 2-6 in games that have come down to two points or fewer.
» UF is on pace for 14 wins and is therefore unlikely to reach 20+ victories this season, breaking a streak of 17 consecutive seasons with that many wins. Florida’s 16-straight such campaigns marks the longest streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally. Donovan is one of only eight coaches that have ever won 20+ games in 14+ consecutive seasons.
» With the NCAA Tournament seemingly out of the picture, UF still needs to play better just to make the NIT. No SEC team with fewer than 19 victories earned an NIT berth in 2013-14.
» The Gators have a record of .500 or worse during the spring semester for the first time since 1997-98.
» Donovan will coach his 704th game on Saturday (Florida and Marshall combined). He is looking for win No. 500.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES

» Active (1): Redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith (suspension)
» Questionable (1): Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter (strep throat)
» Doubtful (1): Junior G Michael Frazier II (high-ankle sprain)
» Out (3): Junior F DeVon Walker (ACL), sophomore center John Egbunu (transfer – season), freshman G Brandone Francis (academics – season)

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on what he expects from Tennessee: “They do a great job in their zone. They force turnovers; they’re a high-steal team. They’ve got a lot of guys on the offensive end of the floor that are real match-up problems. … Clearly they have one of the best players – not only in our league but in the country – in [Josh] Richardson. He’s had a terrific year and he’s a terrific player. They’re a team that really all year long has played very, very well. … They are a phenomenal rebounding team; they give incredible effort. … They are relentless on the offensive glass, manufacturing extra points, extra possessions.”

» Donovan on Florida’s terrible decision making at Missouri: “You’re always, as a coach, trying to show those things, explain those things, trying to get an understanding of why guys do some things [wrong]. … After every game, I always say they’re residual effects that you got to show and continue to teach and help those guys grow and get better from it.”

» Donovan on freshman forward Devin Robinson: “I think Devin’s grown. I think he’s gotten better. I think he’s improved. I think he has a lot to learn. He at times makes mistakes out of inexperience. These last few weeks, with those guys being out, he’s been able to gain more experience; I think that will only help him. … He responds to coaching and challenges.”

» Donovan on the Gators – and specifically sophomore point guard Kasey Hill struggling at the charity stripe: “There has got to be a commitment level where a guy like Kasey Hill says, ‘You know what? I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough. I’m going to start shooting the ball better from the free throw line.’ … You can get in the gym and just shoot shots, shoot shots and you’re mind is all over the place. .. There is a certain level of preparation and commitment that goes into resolving those issues. When Kasey Hill gets to a point that he’s had enough and it becomes that important to him, then it’ll get better. He doesn’t really have a lot of flaws in terms of his technique and all that kind of stuff. … It’s more of a mental thing in terms of you get to a place where you sit there as a player and say, ‘I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough. Whatever I got to do, I’m going to resolve this.’ That’s the kind of commitment it takes.”

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