Donovan doesn't believe in revenge games
Published: Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 at 9:19 p.m.
Florida coach Billy Donovan isn't a big believer in payback.
Who: No. 5 Florida Gators (21-4, 11-2 SEC) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (17-9, 8-5 SEC)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: O'Connell Center, Gainesville
Gainesville-area TV: ESPNU
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM
“I don't know what that means,” Donovan said. “What do you get back? This is the next game that is in front of us.”
When the No. 5 Gators (21-4, 11-2 SEC) face Arkansas (17-9, 8-5) tonight at the O'Connell Center, Donovan is more concerned about how his team will respond to a tough road loss earlier this week against Missouri.
Yes, Arkansas handed Florida its worst loss of the season, an 80-69 drubbing at Bud Walton Arena. But Donovan said any feelings of revenge should be tempered by focus on the scouting report.
“We have to learn from last game,” Donovan said. “We have to look at things we can do better, things they hurt us in, things we can work to get better from the game. But if our focus is we're going to focus on what happened there ... you lose sight of what you need to do in the game. That's the most important thing.”
Florida trailed by as many as 27 points in the second half of the Arkansas loss. The Razorbacks started the game 10-of-13 from floor and 7-of-9 from 3-point range to score the most points in a game against the Gators this season.
“We have a very strong desire to beat them,” Florida junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin said. “We're ahead in the SEC. We've got to keep winning to stay ahead. Obviously we're going to be ready for them because they beat us pretty good in Arkansas.”
Arkansas is coming into the game with some confidence, having won five of its last six games. That includes back-to-back two-point wins at home over Missouri (73-71) and Georgia (62-60), won by clutch plays by sophomore guard B.J. Young. But the Razorbacks are coming off a quick turnaround after playing Georgia on Thursday night and are just 1-6 on the road this season.
“You always talk about challenges, this is the ultimate challenge,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “You're going into the O'Connell Center and those guys will be ready.”
Young said he knows the Gators will be motivated, but says Arkansas has much to prove as well.
“We want to show it wasn't a fluke, or whatever they say,” Young said. “We just need to take energy on the road and play as hard as we did here and try to get that ‘W' down there at Florida.”
Wilbekin will likely get the early defensive assignment on Young, who is third in the SEC in scoring at 16.5 points per game. Young scored 13 points against Florida in the first meeting between the two schools.
“I just gotta be more locked in,” Wilbekin said. “We all have to be more locked in as a team, because I don't think we were playing defense to our potential that game. But we're going to be ready. We're going to be ready to play with passion and defend the right way and play hard.”
The Gators have proven capable of blowing teams out this season, winning eight games by 30 or more points this season (including five in the SEC). But a win by any margin will help Florida keep its hold on first place in the conference. The Gators are one-game ahead of Alabama with five conference games left to play.
So for Donovan, revenge isn't as important as the Gators playing a complete game on both ends of the floor.
"Hopefully our guys would want to do that regardless of who they're playing against,” Donovan said. “We're playing in the SEC right now. We're in first place. I hope our motivation would be bigger than that. We've got a lot that we're playing for. They're playing for a lot too.”
FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS
G Kenny Boynton 6-2 Sr. 13.0 ppg, 3.2 apg
G Mike Rosario 6-3 Sr. 12.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
G Scottie Wilbekin 6-2 Jr. 9.3 ppg, 5.4 apg
F Erik Murphy 6-10 Sr. 12.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg
C Patric Young 6-9 Jr. 10.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg
ARKANSAS PROBABLE STARTERS
G B.J. Young 6-3 So. 16.2 ppg, 3.7 apg
G Mardracus Wade 6-2 Jr. 6.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg
G Rickey Scott 6-3 Jr. 5.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
F Coty Clarke 6-7 Jr. 6.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Marshawn Powell 6-7 Jr. 15.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Notes: Florida returns home, where it is 12-0 this season. … The Gators have won eight straight at home against the Razorbacks . … Florida ranks third in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 53 points per game. The Gators have held 11 opponents under 50 points and 18 opponents under 60 points. … Offensively, the Gators are shooting an SEC-high 39 percent from 3-point range while making 9 3-pointers per game. … Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton (1,913 career points) is 17 points shy of tying Andrew Moten (1,930 points) for second on UF's all-time scoring list. … Arkansas leads the SEC in turnover margin (+6.46) and is second in the league behind Florida in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4-1). … Florida was outrebounded for just the sixth time this season in its 63-60 loss to Missouri. The Gators are 3-3 when they get outrebounded and 18-1 when they outrebound their opponents.