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February 11, 2014

Gator Gameday: Florida vs. Tennessee

GAME DAY LINKS: Gators not taking defense for granted in rematch | UF-UT Game Day Thread

No. 3 Florida at Tennessee
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 - 7:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network, Sirius/XM 91
Tennessee Volunteers (15-8, 6-4 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Won 1
Last Game: Defeated South Carolina 72-53
G Darius Thompson (4.5 assist-turnover ratio since becoming a starter Jan. 29) Fr. 6-5 181
G Jordan McRae (shot a season-worst 1 of 15 in his last meeting with Florida) Sr. 6-6/td> 185
G Josh Richardson (shooting 49.7 percent on the season but went 0 for 7 against the Gators) Jr. 6-6 196
F Jerrone Maymon (maybe not the safest foul, shooting 18 of 20 from the free-throw line in his last six games) RS Sr. 6-8 260
F Jarnell Stokes (continues to average a double-double in SEC play with 14.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG) Jr. 6-8 260

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (21-2, 10-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 15
Last Game: Defeated Alabama 78-69
G Scottie Wilbekin (made 16 of 22 free throws in his last two games) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (39 of 49 points in last three game have come during the second half) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (back to normal after playing 33 minutes, scoring 15 points against Alabama) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (coming off a 12-point performance, tied for a season-high) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (played 30 minutes in each of the last two games) Sr. 6-9 240

Limit McRae's open shots

Chances are, the Volunteers' team leader in scoring isn't going to go 1 of 15 again tonight. The last meeting between these two teams was one of only three times this season McCrae did not score in double figures. That day was a mix of Florida's defense and McRae having an uncharacteristically cold afternoon. That can't be expected again, but keeping McRae from taking over the game has to be a major focus. Florida's perimeter defense was shaky against Alabama, and McRae has made 157 3-pointers this season.
Stick to the plan inside

While McRae is plenty dangerous, the reason for Tennessee's long-standing success at home against Florida -- seven of last eight, 12-5 against Billy Donovan -- has been physicality. Maymon and Stokes create the best one-two frontcourt punch in the SEC in terms of rebounding and strength. Florida countered that in the last meeting by playing a trap up front and forcing both to fight through double teams with the ball. It worked, even though they still managed to battle for points. Donovan would likely be alright with forcing the Volunteers to win with outside shooting again.
Force the issue offensively

The Gators are a better team driving the basketball than they have shown in recent games. One of their biggest offensive trouble has been droughts, created in large part by players not named Frazier settling for outside shots. That can't happen on the road in a tough environment. Florida needs to be aggressive attacking the basket with players like Prather, Finney-Smith and Wilbekin. At best, it's a more efficient way of running the offense. At worst, you're creating the chance of Maymon and Stokes registering fouls.

Donovan on Tennessee's perimeter offense after it went 2 for 29 in the last meeting between these two teams:

"If you look at the last several games what McRae has done behind the line, it reminds me very much of what (Missouri's) Jabari Brown was doing in this league. If you look at their numbers at home from the 3-point line, they're pretty incredible. They're not going to shoot that kind of percentage like they did. They're at home. They're more comfortable. But I think that they are a very dangerous, good 3-point shooting team. If you look at their home stats, they shoot a very high percentage."
Wilbekin on matching up with McRae again:

"I think McRae, he would've liked to have shot the ball better. Obviously he's a great player and is capable of going off for 30 points. I know he's going to come out looking to get something going in front of his own crowd."

Tennessee 68-66: Not to knock off the O'Connell Center's old nickname, but Thompson-Boling Arena has been a personal house of horrors for the Gators in recent years. Florida hasn't won in Tennessee's home arena in more than three years and the last win before that saw David Lee, Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh combine for 60 points. Throw out the previous meeting this season between these two teams. At best, this will be a stiff challenge for the Gators that comes down to the end. Tennessee will be hungry and angry, a bad combination for a hard-nosed, frontcourt team. This has the makings of a win-streak killer.

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