Prather steps up for Gators
Published: Monday, November 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 11:39 p.m.
Shortly after a 27-point performance against Arkansas Little-Rock, Florida senior forward Casey Prather was asked if he was coming into his own.
Who: No. 11 Florida Gators (2-1) vs. Southern Jaguars (1-3)
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: O'Connell Center, Gainesville
Gainesville-area TV: Sun Sports
Gainesville-area radio: AM-850, 103.7 FM
“I really don't know how to answer that one,” Prather said. “I'm just playing as hard as I can, as aggressive as I can. Whether or not I'm coming into my own or not, I can't really say.”
Prather will try to continue his strong start to the season tonight when the No. 11 Gators (2-1) host Southern. The 6-foot-6 senior forward from Jackson, Tenn., currently ranks fourth in the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 22.3 points per game.
Prather's step forward on offense has been as dramatic as his highlight-reel dunks. Coming into his senior year, Prather had averaged 3.1 points per game in his career with more turnovers (69) than assists (49).
Florida coach Billy Donovan said that Prather is playing with a clear head for the first time in his career. In UF's 86-56 win Saturday over Arkansas Little-Rock, Prather made 10 of 11 shots, with the majority taken within 10 feet of the rim. Prather also went to the free-throw line eight times, making six to finish with a team-high 27 points.
“He's not doing things that he's incapable of doing,” Donovan said. “He took one 3-(pointer). It was dead wide open. And otherwise he's been driving the ball, putting it on the floor, taking mid-range, pull-up jump shots, getting fouled, he's been doing a lot of different things. He's really grown in a lot of ways.”
For Prather, it's been a career that, up to this point, has been filled with injuries and inconsistency. Prather showed signs of coming on late in his sophomore season when he scored a career-high 14 points against Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Prather missed UF's first five games of the season with a concussion and missed four more games in January with a sprained ankle.
Donovan said he thinks the time sitting last season not only helped Prather with his self-awareness, but with his court awareness as well.
“I feel like I've been more levelheaded,” Prather said. “I feel like I've learned a more about the game — where to be on offense, where to put myself on defense. That helps out a lot.”
FLORIDA PROBABLE STARTERS
G DeVon Walker 6-6 So. 1.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg
G Kasey Hill 6-1 Fr. 11.0 ppg, 4.7 apg
F Casey Prather 6-6 Sr. 22.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg
F Will Yeguete 6-7 Sr. 5.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg
C Patric Young 6-9 Jr. 6.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
SOUTHERN PROBABLE STARTERS
G Christopher Hyder 5-11 So. 2.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg
G Cameron Monroe 6-2 Jr. 3.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg
G Malcolm Miller Sr. 6-6 14.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Calvin Godfrey Jr. 13.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg
C Frank Snow 6-10 Jr. 3.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Notes: Florida takes a 17-game home winning streak into tonight's game against Southern. … The Gators got a season-high 29 points from their bench in Saturday's 86-56 win over Arkansas Little Rock. Sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench in his UF debut … Freshman point guard Kasey Hill ranks fifth in the SEC in assists at 4.7 per game. …
Southern returns two starters from a team that finished 23-10 and lost to Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament last season. … Southern's three losses this season have come to Marquette, Middle Tennessee State and Tulane … Led by a double-double from forward Calvin Godfrey (25 points, 12 rebounds), Southern won 87-78 at UNF on Saturday night. … Florida is forcing 16.3 turnovers per game and scored 25 points off turnovers in its 86-56 win over UARL.