Notebook: Hill makes 8th start for UF

Florida's Kasey Hill (0) drives the ball into the lane during a game against Texas A&M at the O'Connell Center on Saturday. The Gators topped the Aggies, 69-36, to stay unbeaten (8-0) in conference play.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 8:57 p.m.

Florida freshman Kasey Hill is growing a little more accustomed to playing in the SEC.

“I just feel like my normal self now,” Hill said following UF's 69-36 win Saturday over Texas A&M. “It's not really an adjustment in SEC, I think. I'm just going out and playing.”

Hill made the most of his eighth start. The 6-foot-1 point guard from Umatilla finished with four points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in an all-around solid floor game. He played 25 minutes before fouling out late in the second half.

Hill found out he was starting in place of senior forward Casey Prather on Friday. Prather rolled his ankle Thursday night against Mississippi State and wasn't 100 percent for practice.

“It's always nice to start,” Hill said.

Hill made an impact early by getting the ball down the court quickly in transition. Though he didn't finish some driving layups, his speed allowed trailing Florida players to get easy putback baskets on offensive rebounds. Forward Dorian Finney-Smith and center Patric Young both had putback layups off missed Hill drives to the basket.

“He got in the lane, did some good things with the ball,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I still think he's got to be more of an aggressive driver than what he is. He gets in there and he shoots too many soft floating kind of shots, and he needs to go in there and get fouled a little more.

“When he does that he can get to the line, but when he's in the open floor, he's got great speed and he can find people. He's got good vision. I thought he did a good job.”

Hill is still struggling shooting the ball from the perimeter (5 of 28 from 3-point range, 18 percent) but is trying his best to use his speed and athletic ability to create offense for himself and his teammates.

Florida sophomore guard Michael Frazier II, Hill's former teammate at Montverde Academy in Clermont, said he's noticed improvement from the freshman.

“I love him to death and I just have a lot of respect for his maturity,” Frazier said. “It's hard, because I was in his position last year, playing as a freshman. Being a point guard, Coach D is on him. But I think he's taking coaching great and his level of maturity is as good as I've seen.”

Prather streak ends

Prather had his streak of 18 straight games of scoring in double figures come to an end Saturday. The 6-foot-6 senior forward scored all seven of his points in the first half. Coming off an ankle injury, Donovan took a somewhat cautious approach with Prather, limiting him to 21 minutes off the bench.

“We decided to keep his minutes somewhat down,” Donovan said.

DeVon Walker ailing

Donovan said sophomore guard DeVon Walker did not play Saturday because he's been dealing with a hip pointer.

“We didn't know if he was going to play against Mississippi State,” Donovan said. “We had to take him out of the game midway through there, I think it was in the second half. He was still kind of bothered by it, and I wasn't going to use him unless we really needed him.”

Thursday-Saturday success

The Gators improved to 19-1 in Thursday-Saturday SEC games since 2010. This week is the last of two straight Thursday-Saturday stretches the Gators will face this season.

Young said the key to Florida's Thursday-Saturday success is getting rest and strong preparation from UF's coaching staff.

“We have one of the best video crews in America in (video coordinator) Oliver Winterbone,” Young said. “He's got film for Kentucky at home here probably prepared. They do a good job scouting and getting us film.”


Donovan notched his 200th career conference win in a combined 20 seasons at Marshall (1994-96) and UF (1996-2014). Donovan is 200-110 all-time in conference play and 182-110 in SEC games at UF. … Florida won its 13th straight SEC game, matching a school record set from 1967-69 and 2006-08. … Young, who turned 22 on Saturday, said he planned to spend time with his family after the game and go to church today. “To have the opportunity to go out here and play here for four years, every day is like a birthday when we can come out here and get a win,” Young said. “I'm just happy to be part of it all.”

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