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March 1, 2014

Gator Gameday: Florida vs. LSU

GAME DAY LINKS: Notebook: 'Chasing greatness' the theme for Florida | UF-LSU Game Day Thread

LSU at No. 1 Florida
Saturday, March 1, 2014 - 4:00 p.m. EST
TV: CBS / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network
LSU Tigers (17-10, 8-7 Southeastern Conference)
Streak: Won 1
Last Game: Defeated Texas A&M 68-49
G Anthony Hickey (career-high eight assists in each of last two games) Jr. 5-11 182
F Jarell Martin (made 4 of 5 from beyond the arc against Texas A&M) Fr. 6-9 241
F Johnny O'Bryant III (looking for his eighth double-double of the season) Jr. 6-9 256
F Shavon Coleman (coming off a season-high 21-point performance) Sr. 6-5 195
F Jordan Mickey (eight blocks away from becoming the first LSU Tiger not named Shaq to block 100 shots in a season) Fr. 6-8 220

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (26-2, 15-0 SEC)
Streak: Won 20
Last Game: Defeated Vanderbilt 57-54
G Scottie Wilbekin (played season-high 38 minutes in each of last two games) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (made 11 of last 30 from beyond the arc) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (more turnovers and fouls than points - 2 - against Vandy) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (fouled out Tuesday for the first time this season) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (grabbed at least five rebounds in each of Florida's last five games) Sr. 6-9 240

Test the perimeter early and often

From a percentage standpoint, this game features two of the four worst three-point defenses in the SEC. The Tigers are slightly worse than the Gators, allowing opponents to shoot 35 percent from beyond the arc on average. Florida opened last Saturday's game against Ole Miss hot from deep and could benefit greatly from a similar offensive start against LSU. Look for plenty of early opportunities for Frazier, Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith to get the crowd into the game.
Account for Mickey at both ends

LSU's freshman forward has been impressive throughout the season. He is currently second on the team in scoring but has also done plenty of damage on the defensive end. Only Kentucky has blocked more shots than LSU and the biggest reason is Mickey, who has accounted for 92 of the Tigers' 170 blocks. By comparison, Florida has blocked 80 shots.
Win the point guard matchup

If you're a Gators fan and you've been awake the last few weeks, the idea of Wilbekin having to be better than another point guard puts a smile on your face. And for good reason. Wilbekin is playing as well as any point guard in college basketball right now and should be the favorite for SEC Player of the Year. Today, he'll go toe-to-toe with Hickey, the lone true guard in the Tigers' starting five. The junior leads the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio, which has helped give LSU the No. 2 scoring offense in the conference."

Billy Donovan on winning with a fairly anonymous group:

"A lot of times people's determinations of great players are what is this guy's opportunity at the next level. There are a lot of great college players who have not had the opportunity to move on and play and have a long career in the NBA. Two totally different levels, but I would agree that we don't necessarily have a team full of lottery picks."
Frazier on dealing with Hickey's propensity for steals:

"Very careful. The coach emphasized to us yesterday they get a lot of steals, so we're going to have to do a good job taking care of the ball, executing on offense and getting stops on defense."

Florida 72-68: Don't be surprised if this becomes the kind of game where the Gators have to play a little bit outside of their usual comfort zone. LSU is inconsistent at times, but it can bring a variety of attacks offensively when that inconsistency is on the upswing. The Tigers can certainly score and can be almost Florida-like in their ability to move the ball. Saturday should bring an interesting challenge, especially for a Gators squad that looked mentally and physically exhausted by the end of its most recent road trip.

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