Looking to continue their winning ways after a decisive victory on Tuesday at Alabama, the No. 12/14 Florida Gators travel to Fayetteville, AR to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media Friday to discuss his team heading into the upcoming game.
YEGUETE SET TO RETURN; ROSARIO NOT SO MUCH
Both still recovering from injuries, sophomore forward Will Yeguete (concussion) and redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) returned to practice on Friday before the team left for Arkansas. However, despite Yeguete passing all five necessary concussion tests and Rosario practicing for the first time in over a week, Donovan was unsure if either would be available on Saturday.
“As it relates to me playing or not playing him, that will always be predicated on what the medical team says and how they feel,” he said of Yeguete. “When you’re out of practice and out of games for over a week, there probably is a level of rust, there probably is a level of timing that needs to get back,” he added when speaking about Rosario.
The Gators announced just under two hours before game time that Yeguete has been cleared to play; Rosario, on the other hand, did not travel with the team and will miss his sixth game (third-straight) this season.
A MEASURE OF REVENGE FOR PELPHREY
Now back with Florida as an assistant, former Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey will return to Fayetteville for the first time since the team fired him one year ago. Though he is still close with many of the players he recruited on the team, Donovan suspects that he will certainly feel something when he steps into the arena on Saturday.
“I’m sure internally there’s probably a lot of emotions there for him,” he said. “Any time there is a change like that, it’s always difficult. […] I’m sure for him there will be some emotions and some feelings going back there.”
HISTORY AND STREAKS
» Florida leads the all-time series against Arkansas 14-10; the Gators hold a 14-5 advantage over the Razorbacks since Donovan took over UF’s program and is on a four-game winning streak against Saturday’s opponent.
» The Gators are 4-0 against traditional SEC West opponents this season.
» All five of Florida’s normal starters are averaging double figures in scoring.
» The Gators have made 10+ three-pointers in 17 of 26 games this year, a season-high mark under Donovan.
» Florida has made a three in 677 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 1992.
» The Gators are 285-38 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.
» Arkansas is 17-0 at home this season and 0-9 in away and neutral site games.
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 against Alabama (505) 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 (4,002) can move into No. 1 all-time in time on the court by playing 99 more minutes, passing Eugene McDowell (4,100).
» Three-pointers made: Walker (265) can move into No. 3 all-time with three treys, passing Anthony Roberson (267).
» Scoring: Walker (1,634) can move into No. 4 all-time with 45 points, passing Stacey Poole (1,678).
» Free throws made: Walker (403) can move into No. 7 all-time with 9 makes from the charity stripe, passing Dan Cross (411).
» Free throws attempted: Walker (512) can move into No. 9 all-time with three foul shots, passing David Lee (514).
» Walker is near the top 10 all-time in games started (two away) and steals (six away).
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Donovan if recruiting “bench” players is difficult: “Assembling a team in college basketball in a lot of respects is challenging and a lot different than it was when I first got here. You always have the opportunity with good players where they have an opportunity to make a decision at the end of the year. Teams’ dynamics and personalities can alter and get changed pretty quickly with departures.”
» Asked what injuries he had suffered as a basketball player, Donovan disclosed that he had broken his ankles, dislocated a knee cap and even broken some ribs when he fell onto an opponent’s knee. He also made a joke when discussing Yeguete’s concussions and how in years prior they may have gone undiagnosed. “Sometimes with the way I think, I think I’ve had a few concussions in my day,” he said.
» Sophomore center Patric Young on freshman G Bradley Beal’s dunk and technical foul against Alabama: “It’s kind of my fault on the technical. I kind of made him do it. I like when he dunks on guys. Of course we need that kind of energy. It gets me fired up, and it got him fired up as well. He doesn’t need to stare the guy down like he did, that was kind of a little much. We need each one of our guys to bring some energy like that.”
» Young on the picture of him floating around from the Alabama game: “I’m kind of annoyed because people keep Tweeting me as if I haven’t seen it yet.”
» Junior F Erik Murphy on Walker’s recent struggles: “I’m always confident in Erv no matter what. He’s been great in practice lately. His attitude and stuff is fine. He’s mentally there. I think he’ll break out of this slump pretty soon.”