Sitting at 3-1 on the season, the Florida Gator men’s basketball team will play host to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee Thursday night.
The Gators are riding somewhat of a high coming off a 67-53 victory over the Jaguars of Southern University. However, the Gators were dealt yet another blow as freshman point guard Kasey Hill went down during the second half of Tuesday’s game. The doctors are calling the injury a high ankle sprain and head coach Billy Donovan says Hill will be out for at least a month. Hill was averaging 10.3 points per game; a team high 4.3 assists and committed just four turnovers in his first four games of the year.
This means that the Gators will be without a true point guard for Thursday’s game as the only other point guard Scottie Wilbekin, remains suspended.
On Wednesday, Donovan talked about how his team would cope without the presence of a true point guard on the floor.
“I believe that we have enough ball handling on this team to initiate offense, and I think we’ll be okay,” he said.
On Thursday night, the Gators will look to guys such as sophomores Dorian Finney-Smith, Michael Frazier II, and DeVon Walker to take the ball up the court and create offensive opportunities for this team. Even senior Casey Prather will be called up to contribute if need be as a point guard. The Gators are not short of playmakers and with Hill out at least a month, and with Wilbekin’s return date unknown, the Gators will need someone to step up.
This will be the second meeting all time between the schools with the first meeting coming one year ago in Tampa where the Gators came away the victors 66-45. The Blue Raiders are coming into this game undefeated at 4-0 with three of their victories coming against teams the Gators have already played this season. The Raiders, led by head coach Kermit Davis are a team known for playing great defense and Donovan talked about the different defensive sets his team will see on Thursday night.
“They have done a very good job defensively, they change their defenses and we’ll see full court pressure, 2-2-1, we’ll see 1-3-1, half-court traps, 2-3 zone and man to man. There will be a lot of different things that they will do.”
For the Gators defensively, they will have to target the Raiders leading scorers in seniors Kerry Hammonds II and Shawn Jones who both average just over 16 points per game. In their last outing against Arkansas Little-Rock, both Hammonds and Jones scored in double digits and will look to repeat that same success Thursday night.
There will also be some streaks on the line in this game as the Gators boast an 18 game home winning streak, while the Raiders hold the nation’s longest active road winning streak at eight games. One streak and team will fall; tip-off is set for 7:30 tonight with live coverage of the game on Country 103-7 The Gator starting at 6:55pm.
To hear head coach Billy Donovan on Thursday’s matchup and the team’s point guard situation click on the links below.