No. 2 Florida vs. Auburn preview: Maturing Scottie Wilbekin becomes go-to player Gators need

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports / FSN (Dave Baker, Larry Conley) [Channel Finder]
SiriusXM: 108/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(2) FLORIDA GATORS AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Tony Barbee
Record: 23-2 (12-0 SEC) Record: 12-11 (4-8 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -17.5 | O/U: OFF

This is what it takes to get Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan off your back for a second: 44 points, eight assists, six rebounds and most importantly, zero turnovers, combined in a two-game road stretch in two of the toughest places to play in the Southeastern Conference.

Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin achieved just that last week, and his reward was Donovan sticking purely with praise – rather than adding his customary remark about improvement – when asked about his rising floor general’s ball control during two huge wins against Tennessee and Kentucky.

“I trust him with the ball in his hands,” Donovan said on Monday. “I think as time goes on and we run things on offense, everyone gets more comfortable. Everyone starts to fit into roles. But that is a tribute to him taking care of the basketball and making good decisions.”

A special effort is required to get Donovan to praise a player without offering some form of suggestion for how he can improve. Yet Donovan chose to ignore that Wilbekin made some careless drives and took some rushed shots last Tuesday in Knoxville, TN, plays that are not technically turnovers but nevertheless resulted in wasted possessions.

Continue Reading » No. 2 Florida vs. Auburn preview: Maturing Scottie Wilbekin becomes go-to player Gators need

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No. 7 Florida at Auburn preview: Prather cleared

Location: Auburn Arena – Auburn, AL [Capacity: 9,121]
Date/Time: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Joe Davis, Joe Dean) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 136/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(7) FLORIDA GATORS AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Tony Barbee
Record: 14-2 (3-0 SEC) Record: 8-6 (0-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -8

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Auburn actually leads Florida 87-73 in the all-time series, but the Gators boast an 18-4 record under Donovan. UF has won five-straight against AU, 15 of the last 16 and seven in a row on the road.
» The two teams will square off in a home-and-home series this season for the first time since 1991. Florida won both games by a combined five points.
» The Gators on Tuesday broke program record for longest home winning streak. UF has now won 25-straight games in the O’Dome dating back to last season when it went undefeated in its home gym. The streak is the third-longest nationally.
» Florida is on an eight -game winning streak and has won 13 of its last 14 games.
» The Gators are 66-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» Florida is 6-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. UF is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators defeated top-15 teams in consecutive games for the fourth time in program history and first time ever in non-conference regular season play.
» Florida is 2-2 against ranked opponents this season with both losses coming in true road games and the victories occurring in a home contest and neutral-site game.
» The Gators on Tuesday used their seventh different starting lineup in 16 games.
» UF is 1-2 in true road games this season.

INJURY UPDATES

Donovan started off by announcing that senior forward Casey Prather, who has missed consecutive games with a “pretty significant” bone bruise and fluid build-up in his knee, was cleared to do contact work on Friday. However, even if Prather plays, he will likely be on a minutes limit. “I’ll have a better feel for what he can do after practice,” Donovan said, “but he’s cleared to practice and cleared to play in the game.”

He also noted that senior center Patric Young is still battling tendinitis in his knee and has missed some practice time to give his joints a break.

“He’s a veteran guy. He’s an experienced guy. I’m certainly not going to sit him out of an entire practice. He doesn’t have what Will Yeguete has where Will Yeguete legitimately needs a day off from time to time, which we’ll provide to him,” explained Donovan. “But Patric needs to do a good job communicating, where maybe cut down some of his reps in practice. Maybe instead of being out there for every single rep, he’s out there for half the reps. … He’s very, very conscientious in terms of getting treatment, rehab, trying to stay on it. But he’s got to do a better job communicating what he’s feeling, what he’s experiencing at a given time.”

Young has no concerns going forward: “[My knees] feel pretty good. Ready to go.”

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