Sixth-ranked Gators not taking FSU lightly


Florida guard Kenny Boynton (1) and forward Will Yeguete (15) trap Florida State guard Michael Snaer during the first half at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on Dec. 22, 2011. Florida defeated Florida State 82-64.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 5:40 p.m.

Florida coach Billy Donovan provided a brief history lesson before his team's first road game of the season tonight at Florida State.

Facts

Today's game

Who: No. 6 Florida Gators (6-0) vs. Florida State Seminoles (4-3)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Donald L Tucker Center, Tallahassee
Gainesville TV: ESPNU
Gainesville radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM

Donovan was specifically asked about Florida State's struggles to start the season. The Seminoles are 4-3 and coming off back-to-back home losses against Minnesota and Mercer.

“I remember one year, it may have been with Noah and Horford and those guys, they lost back-to-back games and we went in there and they beat us,” Donovan said. “I don't think that means anything to me at all.”

No. 6 Florida (6-0) isn't about to take Florida State lightly. The memories of UF's 70-66 loss to FSU at the Donald L. Tucker Center in 2006 are still too fresh in Donovan's mind to suggest otherwise.

“We're expecting that Florida State is going to play their best basketball,” Donovan said. “That's what we're expecting and I don't think our guys are expecting anything less.”

It has been a topsy-turvy season for the Seminoles. Florida State lost its season opener at home to South Alabama, but looked terrific in winning back-to-back games against BYU and St. Joseph's in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Florida State's trademark smothering defense under 11th-year coach Leonard Hamilton has been spotty. The Seminoles are giving up 69.3 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot 41.1 percent from the floor.

“It's a rivalry game and they are going to be ready to play no matter what, no matter how many games they've lost before,” Florida junior forward Will Yeguete said. “They're going to think it's a good win for their resume. So I think they are going to play harder than any game that they've played before. We just have to make sure we're ready to face their physicality.”

The Gators have managed to play physical enough in winning their first six games by an average margin of 26 points. Florida is plus-11.2 in rebounding margin this season with 25 blocked shots. The Gators have held opponents to 48.5 points per game on 35 percent shooting.

In attacking FSU's defense, Yeguete said it will be important to play unselfish.

“We're just going to need to be strong with the ball and make sure we screen, make the extra pass,” Yeguete said. “I think it's going to be huge to be unselfish in this game because they pressure the ball a lot and they gamble a lot. So we're just going to make sure we play as a team.”

Florida could be without starting forward Erik Murphy, who has sat out practices since Friday with a hip injury he suffered against Marquette. If Murphy can't go, center Patric Young will likely return to the starting lineup with Yeguete, Scottie Wilbekin, Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario.

“We've played with guys out, such as Scottie, Casey (Prather),” Rosario said. “This is a major key right now, us not having Murph. But I feel like Will can give us good minutes at that spot, and you know, I feel like everyone is prepared.”

Donovan's message since Florida's 82-49 lopsided win over Marquette is to avoid complacency. In breaking down tape of the game, Donovan said he noticed some breakdowns in transition defense and said the margin of victory would not have been as great had Marquette hit some open shots.

“They need to guard against it,” Donovan said. “When you are walking around and people are telling you how great you are, how good you are, what we did to Wisconsin and Marquette and all of this other stuff, I just tell them there is nothing there that helps them become better players.”

FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS

G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Sr. 14.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg

G Mike Rosario 6-3 Sr. 11.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg

F Will Yeguete 6-7 Jr. 7.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg

F Erik Murphy 6-10 Sr. 12.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg

C Patric Young 6-9 Jr. 10.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg

FLORIDA STATE PROBABLE STARTERS

G Michael Snaer 6-5 Sr. 14.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg

G Ian Miller 6-3 Jr. 7.0 ppg, 3.0 apg

F Montay Brandon 6-7 Fr. 6.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg

F Okaro White 6-8 Jr. 13.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg

C Kiel Turpin 7-0 Jr. 4.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg

Notes: Florida is 41-22 all-time against Florida State. The Gators have won three straight in the series, including a 55-51 win in Tallahassee in 2010. … Florida is off to a 6-0 start for the ninth time in program history and fourth time under Billy Donovan. … At 1,676 career points, senior guard Kenny Boynton needs just eight points to tie Stacey Poole (1,678 points) for fifth on UF's all-time scoring list. …Defensively, the Gators have held opponents to 26 points or less in 10 of 12 halves this season. … Junior forward Casey Prather is averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds off the bench in two games since returning from post-concussion symptoms. Prather is a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor. … Florida State is coming off back-to-back home losses to Mercer (61-56) and Minnesota (77-68). … The Seminoles are shooting 47.6 percent from the floor and 39.1 percent from 3-point range. … Guard Terry Whisnant is shooting 47.6 percent from 3-point range for FSU while senior guard Michael Snaer is shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.

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