With?Kentucky’s overtime loss at home?Thursday night, the Florida Gator men’s basketball team (26-2)?has won an outright SEC regular season title with three games still to play.
The first of those three games is Saturday when the Gators host the LSU Tigers (17-10, 8-7 SEC) and Florida head coach Billy Donovan addressed the possible loss of focus for his team after clinching the regular season and made it clear that would not happen on his watch.
“You know, the league’s not over. We still have three games remaining,” Donovan said. “Playing against a?very?talented,?very good team in LSU… you know I think our guys set out to compete for an SEC championship when this started back in early?January. But at the same?point too, the season’s?not over,?we still have?three games left to be played.”
The Tiger will try to be the first SEC team to defeat the Gators this season and have the kind of size and firepower to do so.
LSU only lists one guard in their starting lineup (Anthony Hickey)?and with him the only player listed under six-foot-five as well. The Tigers will look to control the paint starting with Johnny O’Bryant III, a player Florida head coach Billy Donovan compared to Kentucky’s Anthony Davis from a few years ago. Donovan did compare their talent, but more their ability to change the game with their dominant defense in the paint with shot blocking and rebounding. And just to reference the size of LSU’s starting five, they start Shavon Coleman at shooting guard this year, a player who played power forward for them last season.
Florida must be able to keep up with whatever LSU throws at them from an offensive stand point and Dorian Finney-Smith could play a big role in setting the tone off the bench for the Gators. Finney Smith scored 19 point in the team’s last outing, getting him out of a shooting slump that he maintained through the month of February. Finney-Smith said through the struggles, his teammates just encouraged him to keep shooting.
“Pretty much all of them, even down to Jake, BD, everybody just kept telling me to shoot,” Finney-Smith said. “Scottie would shoot with me after practice, Frazier would shoot with me after practice. Everybody was just telling me to keep shooting.”
Florida has equaled its best regular-season win total in program history, matching the 2006-07 team?s 26 wins (26-5), and tonight, they look to make history — again.
Donovan also confirmed Friday Florida freshman Kasey Hill will play in the team’s game versus LSU. He said Hill probably could have played against Vanderbilt, but the trainers held him out for precautionary reasons (groin).
Tip off is set for 4:00 pm and can be seen on CBS as well as heard on Country 103.7 The Gator.
For audio on the quotes above, click here: