No. 15 Florida basketball at Jacksonville preview; Wilbekin to play first game of 2013-14 season

By Adam Silverstein
November 25, 2013

Location: Veterans Memorial Arena – Jacksonville, FL [Capacity: 8,500]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

(15) FLORIDA GATORS JACKSONVILLE DOLPHINS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Cliff Warren
Record: 4-1 Record: 2-3
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Sun
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

TV: FOX Sports Florida* (Larry Vettel, Bill Koss) [Channel Finder]
* Game airing live in north and central Florida. Replay on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

SiriusXM: 119 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Odds: OFF

PRE-GAME READING MATERIAL

» Story: Gators up to No. 13/15 in new top 25 polls
» Story: PG Scottie Wilbekin reinstated after six-game suspension
» Notebook: Florida vs. Middle Tennessee post-game report
» The Fastbreak: Breaking down No. 14/16 Florida running through MTSU 79-59

HISTORY / STATS / STREAKS

» Florida is 29-5 all-time against Jacksonville, boasting a 10-1 record under Donovan. UF is also 26-1 against current Atlantic Sun teams since Donovan took over.
» The Gators are 8-0 all-time at Veterans Memorial Arena.
» UF is set to play four of its next six games – contests that span from Nov. 25 to Dec. 21 – away from home starting with Monday’s contest against JU.
» Florida is playing its fourth game in the last 10 days.
» The Gators swept the Global Sports Challenge exempt event with four victories over North Florida, Arkansas-Little Rock, Southern and Middle Tennessee State.
» Florida is 4-3 against top-25 ranked opponents dating back to last season with all three losses coming away from its home court.
» The Gators are 58-8 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 0-7 dating back to last season in games decided by single digits.
» UF’s defense has started off allowing just 59.2 points per game through five contests, making it the stingiest in the SEC. Four-straight opponents have failed to reach 60 points against the Gators.
» Donovan is looking for his 16th consecutive 20-win season. Florida has him ranked sixth all-time in that category behind only Dean Smith, Lute Olson, Mike Krzyzewski, Tubby Smith and Jim Boeheim.
» Donovan (419) enters the game 29 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 point guard Scottie Wilbekin, Florida’s starter in 2012-13, will play his first game of the season for the Gators after being suspended for the first six contests (including the exhibition opener). Wilbekin will play starter’s minutes even if he does not actually start the game and has been UF’s most impressive player in practice according to sources close to the program.
» Senior forward Casey Prather has broken out in a major way through his team’s first five games. Prather is averaging a team-high 17.6 points on a team-best 59.6 shooting while playing a team-most 29.4 minutes per game. He is also picking up 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest.
» Redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith has made a huge difference in his first three games as a member of the Florida basketball program, averaging 13.0 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds.
» Senior center Patric Young struggled in the early going this but broke out in UF’s last game. Nevertheless, he is averaging career-lows (as a starter) of 9.6 points and 5.6 boards while shooting just .472 from the field. Young scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds the last time he faced his hometown team in Jacksonville on Nov. 25, 2011.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES*

» Active (3): Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (suspension), senior forward Will Yeguete (knee), junior guard Eli Carter (ankle)
» Suspended (1): Redshirt junior center Damontre Harris (indefinitely)
» Injured (2): Freshman PG Kasey Hill (high-ankle sprain), sophomore G Dillon Graham (hips – season)

» On Hill progressing following his injury last Monday: “[He’s] just out of the boot right now. They’re trying to get him to walk around a little bit. … Like the trainer told me, this first week is the easiest week because what ends up happening is he’s in a boot, he’s on crutches, he’s getting ice, he’s getting therapy, then he’s going to get to a point where that pain’s going to go away and he’s going to be able to walk. Then it becomes tricky after that. When do you starting running him? When he starts running, are you cautious in terms of a guy whose game is based on speed and quickness? Do you sit there and push too far? A lot of it going to be pain tolerance of where he’s at. He’s anxious to get back but he also understands that he has to be very, very forthright with what he is experiencing physically, so we can help him get better.”

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