FLORIDA BASKETBALL

Donovan tells team not to overlook Arkansas


Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 1:21 p.m.

In breaking down tape of Arkansas in preparation for tonight's game, the Florida Gators could have taken one shortcut if they wanted to. They could have just ignored the tape of the Razorbacks' road games this season.

Enlarge

Kikko Haydar and the Razorbacks are 13-1 at home this season, but 0-7 on the road. (The Associated Press)

Facts

Who: No. 2 Florida Gators (18-2, 8-0 SEC) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (13-8, 4-4 SEC)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark.
Gainesville-area TV: ESPN
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM

Those tapes are useless. Those tapes do not reveal much of anything about the Arkansas team the Gators will face tonight in Bud Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks are a totally different team at home.

At home, Arkansas is 13-1 and has scored 73 or more points in 13 of those games.




On the road, the Hogs are 0-7 (including two tournament losses in Las Vegas) and average less than 60 points a game. Just nine days ago, Arkansas lost at South Carolina by 21 points. Only four days after that, the Gators beat that same USC team by 39 points.

But the Gators will not be facing the same Arkansas team that lost to the Gamecocks. UF is facing the Arkansas team that is confident, comfortable, and almost unbeatable at home.

“They've played very, very well at home, as the stats and their record show,” UF coach Billy Donovan said Monday. “They're a very, very good home team.

“The biggest thing you look at is the field-goal percentage. Their offensive numbers are different. That's not abnormal. Most teams shoot better at home than they do on the road. But those numbers are drastically different.

“There's probably a comfort level, a confidence level, for those guys playing in Fayetteville. It's a unique and really great environment, which I'm sure they enjoy very much. Most teams feel a little different when they're playing at home.”

The Razorbacks not only feel a little different at home, they play a lot better there.

Arkansas' only home loss was to No. 6 Syracuse 91-82 back on Nov. 30. Since then, the Razorbacks are 9-0 at Bud Walton, including an impressive 13-point victory over Tennessee on Saturday.

“Every team is better at home,” UF center Patric Young said. “They've been able to finish games out and win a lot. We're pretty good at home, too. We've got to come in there ready for their best shot.”

As good as the Razorbacks have been at home, they are not invincible. The Gators proved that a year ago when they buried the Razorbacks 98-68 in Fayetteville, handing Arkansas its worst loss at Bud Walton Arena since it opened in 1993.

“Their crowd really got into it last year. I remember that,” Young said. “We just came out with a lot of energy and were able to come away with the game.

“But that game last year has no bearing on the game this year. It's a similar situation because they were undefeated at home last year and they're 13-1 at home this year. So, we've got to come ready to play.”

That is one thing the Gators have done throughout their current 10-game winning streak — come ready to play, regardless of the opposition or where the games have been played.

This is a mature Florida team (the top seven players are all upperclassmen) that seems focused on improving from day to day, game to game.

“We have plenty of stuff to work on. That's never a problem,” Donovan said. “It's a constant every single day. You have a choice to make every day you walk out there.

“You can either get better or work to get better, or you can come out with an attitude of. … it's always human nature to want to be complacent, to not want to work, to maybe not want to be focused.

“As a coach, I'm always trying to put those guys in situations where they're being forced to be taken out of their comfort (level). You're trying to get a level of consistency. You're never going to have consistency unless you're focused on trying to get better.”

One way to take the Gators out of their comfort zone is to show them tape of Arkansas' home games, and the potent one-two scoring punch of B.J. Young (16.7 points a game) and Marshawn Powell (15.3 ppg).

Young lit up the Gators for 31 points in last year's 30-point UF win.

“He's a handful. He's really, really explosive,” Donovan said. “You can't guard him with one person. You can't guard Powell with one person. Those guys are too skilled offensively.”

And they, along with their Razorback teammates, are especially good at home.

“Bud Walton is a great place to play,” Donovan said. “They've got great fans, good enthusiasm, great environment. I'm sure there will be a great crowd in there.

“Our guys have gone into that building and they know what to expect. They know how it is in there.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS

G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Sr. 13.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg

G Mike Rosario 6-3 Sr. 12.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg

G Scottie Wilbekin 6-2 Jr. 9.3 ppg, 5.1 apg

F Erik Murphy 6-10 Sr. 12.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg

C Patric Young 6-9 Jr. 11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg

ARKANSAS PROBABLE STARTERS

G B.J. Young 6-3 So. 16.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg

G Mardracus Wade 6-2 Jr. 6.3 ppg, 1.5 apg

G Rickey Scott 6-3 Jr. 5.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg

F Coty Clarke 6-7 Jr. 6.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg

F Marshawn Powell 6-7 Jr. 15.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Notes: Florida has won 10 straight to climb to its highest ranking since 2007. … Florida is 15-10 all-time against Arkansas and 15-5 vs. the Hogs under Billy Donovan. … Florida ranks second in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 51 points per game. The Gators have held 11 opponents under 50 points and 15 opponents under 60 points. …. Florida senior Erik Murphy leads the SEC in 3-point shooting at 51.2 percent (43-84). Murphy has made 11 of his last 14 3-point attempts. … Junior center Patric Young has five double-doubles this season, one more than he had all of last season. … Florida junior guard Scottie Wilbekin will have another tough defensive assignment in Arkansas sophomore guard B.J. Young, who is third in the SEC in scoring at 16.7 points per game. … Arkansas is 13-1 at home this season, with its lone loss coming against Syracuse. … Florida will be playing at Bud Walton Arena for the second straight year. The Gators won at Arkansas 98-68 last season, a game in which Florida broke out of a shooting slump by going 13 of 23 from 3-point range. … Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey was the head coach at Arkansas from 2007-11.

— Kevin Brockway

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