How good is fourth-ranked Florida? We find out now. “I guess so,” said Gators senior forward Casey Prather, who bounced back from an ankle injury to score 15 points in a 78-69 win against Alabama on Saturday. In the morning, Coach Billy Donovan didn’t think Prather would be able to play. Florida (21-2 overall, 10-0 in SEC play) won its 29th straight at home that includes 15 league games (both school records), won its 15th straight game overall (two shy of the all-time mark for UF) and came into the weekend as one of 11 teams in the nation unbeaten in conference play. The Gators can break the school record for best start in the SEC with two wins next week. But now comes the hard part — games on Tuesday at Tennessee and Saturday at Kentucky. Then it’s back home the following Wednesday for Auburn before trips to Ole Miss and Vanderbilt to end February. So what have you got? The Gators, to a man agreed, they better have more what they had on Saturday. “I don't think we played great,” said Florida forward Will Yeguete, who helped save the day with 12 points — all in the first half to keep the Gators in the game when struggling. “We got it done but we didn’t play great and know we’ve got to do a better job if we want to win in Knoxville on Tuesday.” Donovan was a little more blunt: “We’re about to play some games where if you play defense like we did today, you’re not going to win.” The Crimson Tide, 9-14 after losing their sixth in the past seven, actually had a five-point lead at 31-26 with just over four minutes left in the first half thanks to 16 points from guard Trevor Releford. He finished with a game-high 25. Florida, which is 73-9 the past three years when holding an opponent below 71 points, has one of the nation’s elite defenses but forgot to bring it to the O’Connell Center on Saturday, where a sell-out crowd of 12,520 was getting restless after watching the Tide shoot 60.9 percent from the field, including 5-of-7 behind the arc, in the first 20 minutes.
Gators win again, but now comes the hard part: Tenn., Ky.
Florida Today | Feb 9