No. 16 Florida basketball vs. Middle Tenn. preview

By Adam Silverstein
November 21, 2013

Event: Global Sports Challenge
Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST

(16) FLORIDA GATORS MIDDLE TENN. BLUE RAIDERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kermit Davis
Record: 3-1 Record: 4-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

TV: Sun Sports (Larry Vettel, Bill Koss) [Channel Finder]
SiriusXM: 108/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Odds: Florida -12

PRE-GAME READING MATERIAL

» Notebook: Billy Donovan talks point guard situation, Will Yeguete’s explosiveness
» Notebook: Florida-Southern post-game report. Gators PG Kasey Hill suffers high-ankle sprain, G Dillon Graham (hips) ruled out for the season.
» The Fastbreak: Breaking down No. 14/16 Florida easing past Southern 67-53
» Story: Gators down to No. 14/16 in new top 25 polls

HISTORY / STATS / STREAKS

» Florida is 1-0 all-time against Middle Tennessee, defeating Thursday night’s opponent last season 66-45 in a neutral site game in Tampa, FL.
» The Gators are playing their third game in the last six days.
» UF is currently 3-0 in the Global Sports Challenge, an exempt tournament, with wins over North Florida, Arkansas-Little Rock and Southern. Thursday night’s game happens to be for the non-existent event title as MTSU is also 3-0 in the tournament.
» Florida is 7-1 against Sun Belt teams under Donovan.
» Middle Tennessee advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season but fell in the First Four to St. Mary’s.
» The Gators have won 18-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to the 2011-12 season as well as 19 consecutive non-conference home games.
» Florida is replacing its three leading scorers from 2012-13.
» UF is looking to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2006-07 after having its season end in the Elite Eight in each of the last three years.
» The Gators are now 4-3 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all three losses coming away from its home court.
» Florida is 57-8 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» The Gators are 0-7 dating back to last season in games decided by single digits.
» Florida’s defense has started off allowing just 59.2 points per game through four contests, good for lowest in the SEC. Three-straight opponents have failed to reach 60 points against UF.
» Donovan is looking for his 16th consecutive 20-win season. The Gators have him ranked sixth all-time in that category behind only Dean Smith, Lute Olson, Mike Krzyzewski, Tubby Smith and Jim Boeheim.
» Donovan (418) enters the game 30 wins behind Dale Brown (448) for second-most in SEC history. He is currently the longest-tenured head basketball coach in the league.


PLAYER NOTES

» Senior forward Casey Prather has broken out in a major way through his team’s first four games. Prather is averaging team-highs of 19.3 points in 32.0 minutes per game while picking up 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per contest. He is shooting 57.4 percent from the floor and has also made 75.9 percent of his free throw attempts.
» Senior center Patric Young eclipsed 900 career points on Monday and now has his sights on becoming the 50th player in school history to score more than 1,000 points. He has struggled in the early going this year, however, averaging just 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 44.4 percent from both the field and charity stripe.
» Redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith has been impressive in his first two games with the Gators, averaging 12.5 points and a team-high 8.0 boards. He is also shooting 57.1 percent from downtown.
» Sophomore F DeVon Walker nearly transferred in the offseason. When he decided to stay at Florida, he had chosen to take a redshirt for 2013-14. Instead, after Donovan asked him to reconsider, Walker decided to play this year and has started all four of UF’s games thus far. Walker averaged just 4.0 minutes per game in 2012-13 but has played 22.5 minutes per contest this season. He will start at point guard on Thursday.
» Redshirt junior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz has done a great job filling in for some of the Gators’ injured and suspended scholarship players. He has already played more minutes this season (74) than the rest of his career combined (48) and currently leads the Gators in field goal percentage (.600).

INJURIES AND ABSENCES*

» Active (2): Senior forward Will Yeguete (knee), junior guard Eli Carter (ankle)
» Suspended (1): Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, redshirt junior center Damontre Harris (indefinitely)
» Injured (2): Freshman PG Kasey Hill (high-ankle sprain), sophomore G Dillon Graham (hips – season)

Part I (Nos. 42-12) | Part II (Nos. 10-0)

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