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February 25, 2014

Gator Gameday: Florida vs. Vanderbilt

GAME DAY LINKS: Donovan on No. 1: 'That means nothing' | UF-VU Game Day Thread

No. 1 Florida at Vanderbilt
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 - 7:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network, Sirius 119/XM 199
Vanderbilt Commodores (15-11, 7-7 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Won 1
Last Game: Defeated Auburn 67-59
G Kyle Fuller (averaging 13.9 PPG and 5.1 APG in SEC play, the latter being a conference high) Sr. 6-1 188
G Dai-Jon Parker (made five 3s in a career-high 21-point game against Auburn) Jr. 6-3 190
F Rod Odom (big man can flex out to the perimeter, shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc) Sr. 6-9 212
F James Siakam (one point, nine rebounds in 28 minutes his last time out) Jr. 6-7 215
C Damian Jones (registered 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks Feb. 12 against South Carolina) Fr. 6-10 235

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (25-2, 14-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 19
Last Game: Defeated Ole Miss 75-71
G Scottie Wilbekin (averaging 18.6 PPG and 4.3 APG in his last six games) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (third in the SEC shooting 42.3 percent from beyond the arc) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (still battling a right ankle injury and tendinitis in his knees) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (has made 10 of his last 13 free throws) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (recorded at least five rebounds in all but one SEC game) Sr. 6-9 240

Take away the 3-point line for Odom

Similar to Erik Murphy during his time at Florida, Odom is a 3-point specialist in a forward's body. How much does he really on perimeter shooting? Odom has taken 67.9 percent of his shots from beyond the arc during SEC play. Odom's length makes difficult to defend him outside with a guard, meaning tonight is a big defensive day for the likes of Prather and Dorian Finney-Smith. Per usual, it will take a group effort to slow the Commodores' lone serious 3-point threat.
Test the matchup inside early and often

Jones, Vanderbilt's freshman center, is one of the more intriguing players in tonight's game. He's averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 5.8 rebounds per game but has flashed a ceiling at times that could prove him to be the next prominent big man in the SEC. That said, he's still a freshman and Vanderbilt's overall rebounding numbers haven't been overly impressive this season. Young hasn't always been a necessity for the Gators, but expect him to test the freshman and see if he has an advantage
Ignore the surroundings

Memorial Gym is a strange place. The fans are far away from the action. The court is elevated. The benches are at opposite ends of the floor behind the baskets. All of these factors have helped Vanderbilt keep a unique advantage at home. Florida is 2-4 in its last six games at Memorial Gym but maybe most impressive is how the Commodores have performed at home against top teams. The Commodores are 6-7 at home against No. 1 teams and have won four of their last five against teams that carry that title.

Donovan on coaching at Memorial Gym:

"You think about it. Run down the floor on offense, their backs are to me, and they come on defense and their backs are to me. In the second half, everything is facing me. Our defense is facing me, and obviously our offense is facing me. So that's kind of the unique part of it there. Our guys, like a guy like Scottie and the rest of our players, we need to get in and out of offenses, we need to get in and out of defenses, and we need to know what we're doing. You've got to address those things, but ultimately our guys have to go out there and play."
Yeguete on playing as No. 1:

"I think we know we're in this position. We know that teams are going to probably give us their best shots. It's obviously something that we need to respond and try to keep calm as well. Whether we're No. 1, I think every team wants to beat us, especially because we're undefeated in the SEC. So we just got to take one game at a time and just be able to be ready from the get-go and not let them get on a run early."

Florida 64-54: From a starting five standpoint, this could be an interesting game. Florida has been inconsistent guarding the 3-point line at times, and Odom is lengthy and fairly consistent. Jones could play a major role but it's difficult to anticipate how he will respond to a more veteran defensive team. Fuller presents a challenge Wilbekin and others in the backcourt will have to respond for. Despite those three, Vanderbilt is one of the worst offensive teams in the SEC -- 66.5 PPG -- because it entirely lacks depth. The Commodores are in a similar situation to the November Gators with seven scholarship players and only 10 bodies overall available. The Gators should scrap out another one.

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