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February 21, 2014

Notebook: Gators prepare for Henderson



Marshall Henderson has spent most of his brief time in the Southeastern Conference making headlines and rubbing people the wrong way. His screaming, antics and facial expressions are made for television, while his off-court habits are often made for suspensions.

It can get old.

"He doesn't talk too much," center Patric Young said. It's more when he does something he just really wants everyone to know he did something good. He'll talk a little in pre-game warmups. Other than that, he's a pretty decent guy."

Last March, Florida came out on the losing end of Ole Miss' trigger-happy guard after defeating his team during the regular season. It was the final of the SEC Tournament, and Henderson finished with 21 points, just over his 19.4 scoring average he carries this season after opening SEC play with a two-game suspension.

Henderson reacted, predictably, with a round of mock Gator chomps. The video is currently running on a loop throughout No. 2 Florida's locker room.

No one seems to take Henderson as more personal of a challenge than UF senior guard Scottie Wilbekin. Often tabbed as the best on-ball defender in the SEC, Wilbekin isn't crazy about discussing Henderson. He usually brushes it off with a quick glance at the ground and a short cliché, no name-reference included.

Billy Donovan doesn't buy the notion Saturday's meeting with Ole Miss is a special game for Wilbekin. As usual, he doesn't like to admit that any one player makes the defensive difference.

"I don't even know if he'll be guarding Henderson. I don't know what we'll do there," Donovan said.

"It's always been about our team, not one match-up, one guy going against another guy. It's no different than the Kentucky game. When you look at their personnel and the match-ups, you probably say at every position Kentucky is more talented than we are. But you don't want to play like that. You've got to play as a team."

Yet teammates know Saturday will be something of a proving ground for their starting point guard. There's a noticeable spark that comes when these kinds of scorers are on the other side.

"He takes a lot of pride in his defense," Young said. "He's just a different animal … He's really looking forward to the challenge."

-- IN A RUT --

Florida has had to work around rough offensive outings from sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith in recent wins. Finney-Smith has struggled to find any kind of rhythm, missing his last 21 shots from beyond the arc. It was lowlighted Wednesday during a three-point, two-rebound night against Auburn.

"I talked to him a little bit yesterday," Donovan said. "What happens is you're desperate to make a shot. He has to get himself lost in the game and just go be aggressive and make sure he's taking good shots. He's a very unselfish guy. He's second or third on our team in assists, first in rebounds. I told him he needs to get his mind off that now. The biggest thing is just being aggressive. If you're not going to play well, have it be because you're not looking at yourself as being tentative. I think he's being tentative."

-- ETC. --

- Kasey Hill (groin) will again be listed as doubtful for Saturday's game. He did not practice Thursday, and Donovan said he would be surprised if he is ready to go against the Rebels.

- Donovan on Michael Frazier II's injured left wrist: "Te doctor looked at him. I'd say right now it's sprained. It's his left wrist. He is a little bit hampered by it. He is cleared to play and he will play, but he's having some issues with it."


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