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January 25, 2014

Gator Gameday: No. 6 Florida vs. Tennessee

GAME DAY LINKS: Notebook: Gators look to snap three-game skid against Vols | UF-UT Game Day Thread

Tennessee at No. 6 Florida
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014 - 4:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network, Sirius/XM 91
Tennessee Volunteers (12-6, 3-2 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Won 1
Last Game: Defeated Arkansas 81-74
G Antonio Barton (played three seasons at Memphis before transferring) Sr. 6-2 180
G Jordan McRae (leads Volunteers in scoring, blocks, assists and minutes) Sr. 6-6/td> 185
G Josh Richardson (shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 43.4 percent from beyond the arc) Jr. 6-6 196
F Jerrone Maymon (points and rebounds in SEC play are above his overall season averages) RS Sr. 6-8 260
F Jarnell Stokes (averaging 12.4 PPG and 11 RPG in SEC play) Jr. 6-8 260

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (16-2, 5-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 10
Last Game: Defeated Alabama 68-62
G Scottie Wilbekin (tied a season-high with seven 3-point attempts against Alabama) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (has attempted 41 of 46 shots from beyond the arc in SEC play) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (scored 48 points in three SEC appearances) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds Thursday) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (snapped a six-game double-figures scoring streak against Alabama) Sr. 6-9 240

Big day for big men

It is no coincidence that Tennessee has had Florida's number under Cuonzo Martin. The Volunteers have done what has traditionally hurt the Gators -- punch them in the mouth. But now it would appear the Gators have the frontcourt pieces to punch back. Seniors like Young, Yeguete and Prather, matched with Dorian Finney-Smith are the SEC's best answers to Maymon and Stokes if they're on their game. Expect this game to take on the feel of two heavyweights in the octagon.
Don't forget about McRae

Maymon and Stokes get plenty of attention -- and rightfully so -- but keep in mind we haven't talked about Tennessee's most prominent scorer (and passer and shot-blocker) yet. Florida has faced big-time guards in its last two games, including a good job against Trevor Releford and a not-so-good job against Chris Denson. McRae poses a different challenge at 6-6 with a well-rounded game. Backcourt length is not something the Gators possess.
Make some 3s

A funny thing has happened during SEC play. The Gators, thought to have left their trigger-happy ways in the past, have rediscovered the 3-point shot. In fact, Florida has attempted at least 25 3-point shots in three of its five conference games. Though the Gators might be better equipped than ever to go inside against the Volunteers, timely long-range buckets would go a long way to rejuvenating the O'Dome and pumping life into a team that has been intensity-challenged lately. Only Auburn is allowing a higher opponent 3-point percentage than Tennessee, but no SEC team has had fewer 3-pointers attempted against it.

Billy Donovan on why his team has been successful with quick turnarounds:

"I think the biggest thing you try to do is you've really got to get into the meat and potatoes of what needs to be done: talk about concepts, talk about how you're going to defend things and things you want to do offensively. And get them focused on the things that they need to be productive in during the game."
Prather on a plane issue forcing Florida to spend an extra night in Alabama:

"I still got pretty good sleep. I like sleeping in hotels. They got nice beds. It wasn't too bad."

Florida 72-69: Let's face it. The Gators won't play many SEC games that will be truly challenging unless they make said games challenging for themselves. Tennessee is one of the few opponents that can truly push Florida even if it is playing a good game. Today is easily Florida's toughest game in more than one month. A comfortable win would be reassuring for a team that doesn't get many accurate measurements of itself in conference play, but don't expect it. This should be a close one throughout with Florida's versatility the key in a tight win.

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