The Florida men’s basketball team (3-1) will open its doors to the Jaguars of Southern University (1-3) tonight in Gainesville.
The Gators are coming off an 86-56 home win versus Arkansas-Little Rock where senior forward Casey Prather continued his 2013 scoring tear with 27 points on 10-for-11 shooting. Prather is averaging 22.3 points per game and has surpassed his previous scoring high per game (14) all but once to start the year.
Florida head coach Billy Donovan was the first to praise Prather’s increased contribution this season, and credits his results to increased awareness and overall understanding of his game.
“I think its been a testament to his awareness of himself; he has an awareness of himself as a player,” Donovan said. ” He does now what he’s capable of doing, where early on in his career, he did what he would have loved to do.”
The Gators will look to see strong performances again from their “under the weather” players, Michael Frazier II and Dorian Finney-Smith. In Frazier’s first game back from illness against North Florida, he was only scheduled to play 8-10 minutes, but instead played 24. The same was the case for Finney-Smith, who played 16 minutes, despite preconceived limits, totaling 17 points and nine rebounds against Arkansas-Little Rock.
Donovan spoke on the new strategies UF could implement now that Finney-Smith is available to stretch the floor. Donovan’s main focus was defense, and said being a good press team is now a possibility.
“We have a chance to be a very good pressing team with our length. We have some guys we can put on the ball,” Donovan said. “One of the things that makes the press effective in my opinion is when you have multiple guys that can go in front of the press, and if you can keep them fresh, that’s really good.”
On the other side of the scorer’s table, the Gators will have to watch out for Southern’s junior forward Calvin Godfrey who’s averaging a double-double through four games (13.0 PPG and 10.3 RPG). Florida will also try and neutralize the Jags’ leading scorer, guard Malcolm Miller. Miller is a 6’6″ senior who should see Gators sophomore guard Devon Walker — also 6’6″ — at his side for most of the game.
The match between Florida and Southern is set to tip off at 7:00 pm. This will be just the second meeting between the two programs. UF took the first game 83-27 in 2006 on their way to winning their second national championship.