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April 5, 2014

Final Four Gameday: Florida vs. UConn

GAME DAY LINKS: Know Your Foe: UConn | UF-UConn Game Day Thread | Forde: How Patric Young transformed into a leader at Florida

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 7 UConn
Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 6:09 p.m. EST
TV: TBS / RADIO: Gator IMG Sports Radio Network, Sirius/XM 91
Connecticut Huskies (30-8)
Streak: Won 4
Last Game: Defeated No. 4 Michigan State 60-54
G Shabazz Napier (scored 17 of his 25 against MSU in the second half) Sr. 6-1 180
G Ryan Boatright (reached double figures in all four NCAA Tournament games to this point) Jr. 6-0 168
F DeAndre Daniels (27 points, 10 rebounds against No. 3 Iowa State in Sweet 16) Jr. 6-9 195
F Niels Giffey (played at least 29 minutes in every tournament game so far) Sr. 6-7 205
C Phillip Nolan (no more than 10 points or seven rebounds in any game this season) So. 6-10 212

Nebraska CornhuskersFlorida Gators (36-2)
Streak: Won 30
Last Game: Defeated No. 11 Dayton 62-52
G Scottie Wilbekin (notched 36 points in two games in Memphis) Sr. 6-2 176
G Michael Frazier II (shooting 38 percent from 3-point line in the tournament) So. 6-4 199
F Casey Prather (held to single digits in two of four tournament games) Sr. 6-6 212
F Will Yeguete (seven rebounds in each of his last two games) Sr. 6-8 230
C Patric Young (has only shot eight free throws in the NCAA Tournament, five makes) Sr. 6-9 240

Don't let Shabazz Napier take over

Billy Donovan has already said guarding will -- unsurprisingly -- not be an individual task for Scottie Wilbekin. It will be a group effort. The last time these two teams met, Napier capped off a 26-point day with "the shot" that will be replayed non-stop during pregame broadcasts. He isn't UConn's only weapon, but he is the one player who can completely take over a game. Force him to turn into a passer on enough possessions, and the Huskies become less intimidating.
Test the Huskies inside

Yes, UConn has improved inside since the last times these teams met but Patric Young should still be a substantial mismatch. He had one of his more active games of the season the last time these teams met with 17 points and seven rebounds. The more Florida can turn this into a game that's about the frontcourt and points in the paint, the better.
Press early and often

It's easy to forget the primary objective of Florida's full-court press when watching it during the first half. It isn't always suffocating. It doesn't always run teams off the floor. But it does create a serious challenge for opponents when it comes to fatigue. There aren't many teams that can run with the nine-deep Gators for 40 minutes, and UConn isn't breaking that mold. Florida will pressure Napier from start to finish getting up the floor and hope to wear out the Huskies for the portion of the game that matters most.

Donovan on his respect for UConn coach Kevin Ollie:

"You can watch his team play. They play hard. They're unselfish. They play together. They have energy and enthusiasm. He's done a great job. What impresses me even more with Kevin is the kind of person he is. Just the way he has incorporated Coach (Jim) Calhoun, the respect he gives Coach Calhoun as his former coach. I think he's handled that whole situation very, very well. At the same time he's been able to put his stamp, his fingerprint on Connecticut's basketball program the last two years. He's an outstanding coach and a great guy."
Wilbekin on what makes Napier tough to guard:

"His ability to pull up from anywhere and the quickness that he pulls up and with the efficiency that he makes difficult shots. That's what makes him hard to guard. He also has the ability to get in the lane with his quickness and his first step. So just the different weapons that he has on offense is what makes it hard for him to be guarded."

Florida 72-60: The initial meeting between these two teams will be brought up aplenty today. That game was won by the Huskies, but Kasey Hill wasn't on the floor and Chris Walker wasn't even a consideration. Wilbekin had not quite bloomed into the superstar he is these days. Both teams have improved, but the Gators are the team that has won 30 straight games since. UConn has sputtered at times and bounced back and forth. Napier is hot at the moment and that can't be denied. Then again, Donovan had a week to prepare for him and will have something effective in place. There's no reason to not believe the Gators get the upper-hand in the rematch and advance to the final.

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