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January 23, 2014

Gator Gameday: No. 6 Florida vs. Alabama

GAME DAY LINKS: Notebook: Donovan done talking Walker | UF-UA Game Day Thread

No. 6 Florida at Alabama
Thursday, Jan. 22, 2014 - 7:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN2 / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network
Alabama Crimson Tide (8-9, 2-2 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Missouri 68-47
G Retin Obasohan (attended high school in Belgium, averaging 12.2 PPG) So. 6-1 205
G Trevor Releford (seventh in the SEC in scoring at 18.3 PPG) Sr. 6-0 190
G Levi Randolph (started more games last season than any other Alabama returning player) Jr. 6-5 205
F Shannon Hale (four-star prospect playing 17.5 minutes per game) Fr. 6-8 220
C Carl Engstrom (Averaging 2.64 RPG and looking for third start) Jr. 7-1 265

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (15-2, 4-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 9
Last Game: Defeated Auburn 68-61
G Scottie Wilbekin (averaging 2.6 assists per game in last five outings) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (went scoreless in last game after scoring 21 the game before) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (making his first start since Jan. 8) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (has 17 rebounds in his last three games) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (committed 13 fouls in four SEC games) Sr. 6-9 240

Amp up perimeter defense

Alabama is hardly known as a 3-point shooting team. Only five SEC teams have made fewer 3-point baskets than the Crimson Tide this season. Then again, one of those teams is Auburn, a squad that nearly sank the Gators with a surprising first-half assault from beyond the arc. Opponents are shooting 44.6 percent from deep against the Gators since SEC play started. Look for Releford to test that statistic early.
Win up front

Florida has one more game against a questionable frontcourt before facing some of the best big men in the SEC Saturday when Tennessee comes to town. Only Mississippi State gets less second chances on offense thanks to rebounds. Alabama is even in rebounding margin and catches Florida just in time as Prather returns to the starting lineup.
Force bad shots

Alabama can score, especially with its guards, but the Crimson Tide aren't particularly strong at manufacturing opportunities in a half-court setting. Similar to Florida, Alabama has low assists numbers (11.2 per game). Unlike the Gators, the Crimson Tide only have one backcourt slasher who can consistently make plays. Florida can mix up defenses and pressure Alabama into taking plenty of low-percentage shots.

Billy Donovan on another meeting with Anthony Grant

"Any time you compete against friends or somebody close to you, that's always difficult. For me as I've gotten older there are more and more guys. For a while it was Anthony, we'd have one year where we'd play against Coach Pitino's team, we'd play against John Pelphrey at Arkansas, played against Alabama, played against Donnie Jones, they are not great comfortable teams to play against, but Anthony's team they are going to go out and play hard, so is our team and really it's going to be the players that decide it."
Will Yeguete on how Florida can improve:

"We can improve on defense and offense as well. Coach D doesn't care about offense that much. He wants us to improve on defense. We have to do a better job of becoming a better defensive team and more consistent. I guess we can do a better job of taking care of the ball. Offensively, we are going to be better if we play defense. It starts with being a better defensive team for us."

Florida 70-58: As Donovan will tell you, stopping Releford is no easy task. Alabama's score-first point guard has led the team in scoring in seven of its last eight games and five of its eight wins this season. Florida is coming off a game in which Auburn's guards -- two of the SEC's top scorers -- made things more interesting than they should have been. Alabama is not as balanced, but the Gators have a proven tendency to sleepwalk through games like this.

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