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February 8, 2014

Gator Gameday: Florida vs. Alabama

GAME DAY LINKS: Gators look to cut down on wasted possessions | UF-UA Game Day Thread

Alabama at No. 3 Florida
Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 - 12:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network, Sirius/XM 85
Alabama Crimson Tide (9-13, 3-6 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Lost 3
Last Game: Lost to Arkansas 65-58
G Rodney Cooper (scored season-high 22 points against Arkansas) Jr. 6-6 215
G Trevor Releford (shooting 29.4 percent from 3-point range in last three games) Sr. 6-0 190
G Retin Obasohan (didn't play in Alabama's first meeting with Florida) So. 6-1 205
F Shannon Hale (6 of 24 from the field in his last three games) Fr. 6-8 220
C Carl Engstrom (only played more than 19 minutes twice in SEC play) Jr. 7-1 265

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (20-2, 9-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 14
Last Game: Defeated Missouri 68-58
G Scottie Wilbekin (13 of season-high 19 points against Missouri came from free throws) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (fourth in SEC in 3-point field goal percentage at 42.8) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (was in and out of practice Friday with soreness in left ankle but will play) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (16 rebounds and eight shot attempts in his last two games) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (34 points and 28 rebounds in last three games) Sr. 6-9 240

Hit your 3s

Last time these two teams met, Anthony Grant had his Crimson Tide challenge a less-than-dominant Gators offensive attack by playing a 2-3 zone defense the entire game. The opportunity was created for a big 3-point shooting day, though Florida only made 10 of 28 en route to a closer-than-expected 68-62 victory. If Frazier breaks his recent slow-start trend and gets hot early, this game will be different.
Play balanced defensively

Releford is the major offensive player who stands out for Alabama, but the Crimson Tide attacked all over the floor when these teams met in Tuscaloosa. Four players scored in double figures, including two bench players. The Gators have been on top of their game defensive as of late with opponents shooting 33.6 percent from the field since they last saw the Crimson Tide. If Florida is looking for a blowout, it should start on the defensive end.
Get Chris Walker involved

No, this is not critical for victory, but this will be Florida's best chance to get the star freshman -- who played seven minutes in his debut -- acclimated before next week's games at Tennessee and at Kentucky. The Gators should not have much trouble discarding Alabama in the building where they have a school-record 25-game winning streak going. A comfortable early lead will allow Walker to see extended minutes and give Donocan and idea of how he can use him heading into more prominent games.

Donovan on this team's ability to play defense:

"This is one of our better teams in terms of coachability, buying in, wanting to do it, seeing the correlation between good defense, seeing the fact that we're really struggling offensively first half against Missouri and our defense keeps us within a three-point game. I think our guys see that we've got to play very good defense, and then I think it does take some pressure off you offensively."
Prather on the last meeting with Alabama:

"We need to do a better job of keeping the balls out of the lane, they had a great driving scheme. The one through three, including the four, he could shoot and we gotta do a good job of just keeping them out of the lane and rebounding."

Florida 74-46: After a lackluster performance in Tuscaloosa in which Donovan told his players they had won a battle but lost a war, expect this game to have an extremely different feel. A sold-out home crowd should offset any sleep effects from a noon tip-off, and Florida could certainly use a stronger shooting performance to build confidence before it heads into arguably its two most challenging games of the conference slate. Defensively, there might not be a team playing better than the Gators right now aside from the occasional lapse at the 3-point line. There's no reason to believe a surprise is in store for Florida Saturday.

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