Gators up to No. 4


Florida coach Billy Donovan directs his players from the sideline in the second half last week against Georgia.

AP
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 1:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 28, 2013 at 1:37 p.m.

Florida made a big move in this week’s Associated Press men’s college basketball poll.

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Florida coach Billy Donovan directs his players from the sideline in the second half last week against Georgia.

AP

The Gators moved up four spots to No. 4 in this week’s AP Top 25, behind just Michigan, Kansas and Indiana. Florida also received one first-place vote, from Ron Morris of “The State” in Columbia, S.C.

It’s UF’s highest ranking since being ranked No. 3 on March 12, the last poll of the 2007 season. Florida (16-2, 6-0 SEC) takes an eight-game winning streak into its matchup Wednesday at the O’Connell Center against South Carolina.

Florida coach Billy Donovan compared the potential increased national attention to driving a car on a country road and all of a sudden seeing city lights.

“All of a sudden, you get into the city and all of a sudden there’s a bunch of sights and sounds and things you start looking at,” Donovan said. “You’re not paying attention to what’s in front of you. You drive the car right off the road into a pole.

“Our guys have got to understand that the chatter and stuff around them is on the peripheral. It's got nothing to do with us preparing to get ready for the next game. I think that any good team or any team that moves up in the rankings, you have to deal with that.”

The Gators have outscored their first six SEC opponents by an average margin of 26.5 points per game.

"It's nice to be recognized for the hard work we've been putting in,” Florida junior center Patric Young said. “It lets us know that we're doing the right thing so far, that we need to keep improving. Hopefully — no championships been won in January or February, so hopefully we can keep this thing going and have a one seed going into the tournament, but that's down the road and later on. We're going to worry about this game coming Wednesday."

Also, Donovan ruled out junior forward Casey Prather (high ankle sprain) for the South Carolina game. Prather did some running and cutting before the Mississippi State game, but has not been cleared for full contact.

Donovan said he would like to see Prather take part in a few full-contact practices before he returns to game action.

“Even if he was cleared to play on Wednesday, I'm not so sure it would be helpful to him because he's been out so long and he's been away from contact and playing,” Donovan said. “I think he's going to need to get some of that stuff back before we can start putting him in the game.”

Note: Tickets are available for UF's home games Wednesday vs. USC and Saturday against No. 16 Ole Miss. … The Gators were also ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches poll.

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