Coming off a tough loss to the consensus No. 1 team in the country, the No. 7/8 Florida Gators are looking to avenge their first Southeastern Conference loss of the season by hosting the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday afternoon. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media late in the week to discuss a number of topics.
HANDLING ADVERSITY DURING GAMES AN ISSUE
Donovan continues to be pleased with how the Gators rebound from tough losses (When we’ve lost, we’ve come back and we’ve tried to get better.”) but is not nearly as happy with the way Florida handled Kentucky’s onslaught during the game on Tuesday. He believes the team did not respond the same way they did in-game against Ohio State and Syracuse, two contests in which they fought back until the final buzzer.
“You’re going to have some games where you don’t shoot the ball well, and we did not shoot the ball well. Some of it had to do with Kentucky’s defense and some of it had to do with we didn’t make shots,” he said. “The plays that hurt us more than the missed shots – because that’s going to be part of the game, you’re always going to have that – were our turnovers or a bad drive or a blocked shot that gapped them out in transition.”
Donovan continued, “There’s got to be better resiliency in those situations. Everything’s a grind and everything’s a struggle. It’s a lot easier playing [defense] when the ball goes in the basket. For those guys, they probably thought they were playing fairly decently for a while but there’s no question there has to be at tough mental fortitude to move past this and find a way collectively as a group to keep ourselves in the game. That was the thing I was most disappointed about in the game.”
He believes that Florida “got away from focusing” on the little things during the game and was completely disconnected as a team, something that the Gators will have to prevent from happening Saturday if they find themselves down against the Volunteers.
“We have a group of guys that really care that are good kids that want to do well. What happens is you can go into a game – and I think this did happen in the Kentucky game – we went into the game with fractured minds,” he explained.
“What I mean by that is nothing to do with adversity or anything else. We went in there where each guy wanted to do his part and to play well. What happens is you’re playing the game as a group of individuals – not with any bad intentions. You have to have, in that kind of environment against a really good team like that, five guys unified mentally in the game about what is going on.”
HISTORY AND STREAKS
» Florida is 13-0 at the O’Dome this season and trying to continue a 19-game winning streak in the House of Horrors.
» The Gators will be wearing special Nike Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms for Saturday’s game, which you can take a look at by clicking here.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 16 of 24 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 675 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» The Gators are 284-37 since 1988-89 when holding opponents under 70 points.
» Florida is one victory away from winning 20+ games for the 14th consecutive season, which is currently the longest active streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally.
WALKER CLIMBING UP ALL-TIME LISTS
Senior point guard Erving Walker is steadily making his way up a number of Florida’s career lists. Below are some of the marks he is about to pass in UF’s record books.
» Assists: Walker (496) can move into No. 1 all-time with eight dimes, passing Ronnie Montgomery (503).
» Minutes: Walker (3,932) can move into No. 2 all-time with 32 minutes on the court, passing Chandler Parsons (3,964).
» Three-pointers made: Walker (264) can move into No. 3 all-time with four treys, passing Anthony Roberson (267).
» Scoring: Walker (1,620) can move into No. 5 all-time with five points, passing Dwayne Schintzius (1,624).
» Free throws made: Walker (400) can move into No. 7 all-time with 12 makes from the charity stripe, passing Dan Cross (411).
» Free throws attempted: Walker (506) can move into No. 9 all-time with nine foul shots, passing David Lee (514).
» Walker is also near the top 10 all-time in games started (four away), field goal attempts (28 away) and steals (six away).
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan said sophomore center Patric Young’s early foul trouble in games is what has prevented him from achieving high rebounding numbers recently.
» He believes the Gators must do a much better job defending the three seeing as opponents have been shooting quite well from long range against UF in SEC play.
» On why redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson is not seeing much time on the court: “Cody keeps getting better. One of the things that’s hard sometimes – unless I can get him in the flow – sometimes I feel like I’m putting him into a situation where I throw him in there and he’s sat for 30 minutes and I might be setting him up for failure a little bit. I got to find him a way to plug him in sooner. When Murphy’s not in foul trouble and he’s on the floor, it adds a different element to us offensively whereas Cody doesn’t bring that element. Cody, I think, probably needs to be backing up Patric some.”