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February 4, 2014

Gator Gameday: Florida vs. Missouri

GAME DAY LINKS: Chris Walker set to debut | UF-MIZZOU Game Day Thread

Missouri at No. 3 Florida
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 - 9:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network, Sirius/XM 85
Missouri Tigers (16-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to No. 18 Kentucky 84-79
G Jordan Clarkson (played a combined 73 minutes in last two games) Jr. 6-5 193
G Jabari Brown (leads the SEC in scoring and 3-point field goal percentage) Jr. 6-5 214
G Earnest Ross (second on the team in rebounding at 6.6 RPG) Sr. 6-5 228
F Johnathan Williams III (averaging 6.5 PPG to go along with 7.4 RPG) Fr. 6-9 223
F Ryan Rosburg (playing 22.6 MPG in his first season as a starter) So. 6-10 252

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (19-2, 8-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 13
Last Game: Defeated Texas A&M 69-36
G Scottie Wilbekin (3 of 10 from beyond the arc in last two games) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (attempted 39 3-point shots in Florida's last four games) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (missed practice Sunday with soreness in his left ankle) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (double-digit rebounds in two of last four games) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (career-high 14 rebounds against Texas A&M) Sr. 6-9 240

Guard the perimeter

On Paper, Florida's once-maligned 3-point defense has improved drastically. In the Gators last four games, opponents have shot 16.9 percent from beyond the arc. How much of that is defense is debatable. Plenty of open looks have been missed. Only two SEC teams have made more 3-point field goals than the Tigers this season.
Make guarding the backcourt a group effort

It's been a little more than one week since Florida sold out on Tennessee's frontcourt players and forced the Volunteers to beat them with their guards. Similar idea, just flip the titles. Missouri's frontcourt is not much of a concern from a defensive standpoint, but its three starting guards average a combined 53 points per game. With three 6-5 guards, the Gators will need to allow forwards to help Wilbekin and Co. with on-ball duties.
Attack the basket

Florida hasn't been much better than its opponents recently when it comes to perimeter shooting. Playing against lengthy guards won't do much at all to help that. That leaves the door open for the Gators to prove their worth with a little self-realization. Florida has the vastly better and more versatile forwards in this game. Expect big games from Prather, Young, Dorian Finney-Smith and some chances for the debuting Chris Walker.

Billy Donovan on Missouri's guard trio:

"They have the ability to shoot over top of people even when you're on them. I think that's what makes them such a tough cover. On the perimeter, they've got very big, strong ,physical guards. I would say from an offensive perspective, there is not a trio in the country more talented and gifted than them."
Young on if Florida can play a more up-and-down offensive game:

"Yes, I think we'll be very comfortable with that. The way our offense goes, we're supposed to be scoring a lot more points, we just have been missing a lot of opportunities. The coaches showed that to us on film. We would like to not allow them to score as many points as us, of course, but if that's what it comes down to it's just going to come down at the end who wants the game more."

Florida 78-68: The Gators have been fortunate to look better on paper than they do in person at times this season on the defensive end. A big part of that has been playing teams that haven't been able to truly make them pay for lapses. The Tigers should present that challenge from a scoring perspective. But what little advantage Missouri might have with backcourt offense is more than made up for by Florida's versatility and scoring ability up front. This should be the kind of game the Gators have no problem getting up for.

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