The Florida Gators (15-4, 4-1 SEC) put together arguably their most complete game of the season Saturday in a dominating 75-43 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks (12-6, 2-3 SEC) just two days after escaping a potentially resume-killing loss in a close 45-40 win on the road against Auburn. Head coach Billy Donovan and a few players spoke to the media after Saturday night’s game.
STRONG PERFORMANCE FROM START-TO-FINISH
For every disappointing showing that Florida has put forth this season, they have seemed to match it with an impressive performance. The juxtaposition between Thursday’s nail-biting win and Saturday’s rout could not have been greater.
“From start-to-finish, it was a real complete game for us. We’ve had some games where we’ve had some double-digit leads going into the half and we haven’t come out and handled it always the best. Our guys really did [that] in the second half,” Donovan recounted. “There was a limited amount of physical work we did, but there was a lot of mental work. Larry Shyatt, he scouted the game, I thought he really did a terrific job. There’s a fine line, when you have a one-day prep day, you can overload your guys mentally. […] He just tried to simplify it.”
He also spoke about what it took for the Gators to rebound from what was no doubt a depressing performance on the road. “Tonight was a display of their resiliency. I love that about those guys,” Donovan said. “But there’s times where I want to see more fire, more passion, more energy, more excitement, enthusiasm when the game is not going their way. I’d like to see a little bit more of that.”
VICTORY HAS A GREATER LONG-TERM SIGNIFICANCE
Aside from proving that Florida is resilient at times, Saturday’s game also showed that the Gators are able to forget about negatives and move forward as a team. Donovan, still shell-shocked by his team’s performance Thursday, explained it thoroughly.
“It was important because I thought our guys, mentally coming out of the Auburn game, had never ever been through anything like that before. I had never been through anything like that before,” he said. “I mean we shot 27 percent from the field and 19 percent from the three-point line and we scored 45 points in a game against a team that’s 0-4 [in the SEC] at the time and 7-10 in the league. And that’s not any disrespect to Auburn. When you have a game like that, I think it was important how we responded on a one-day turnaround. That’s what I was more concerned about.”
UF handled that turnaround quite well it seems, but Donovan remains concerned whether or not Florida can keep up the momentum once again on such short rest. “The goal is – we play this well tonight – can we come back on Tuesday and play better than we did today? That’s the challenge you try to get across to them,” he said. “[You try] to get them to say, ‘OK, we need to try to get better.’”
QUOTES (After the break…)
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