Notebook: Hill comes through in big way for Gators
Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 6:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:04 a.m.
With Florida senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin in first-half foul trouble, the Gators were forced to turn to a freshman in a big spot.
Freshman point guard Kasey Hill delivered in a big way for the Gators. Hill finished with eight points and seven assists off the bench in UF's 84-65 win Saturday over Kentucky at the O'Connell Center.
“I thought it was Kasey Hill's best game by far that he's had here,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “He was aggressive, he was physical, he was tough, played with a motor, played with energy.”
Wilbekin's second foul came 10:18 remaining in the first half with Florida up 20-11. From that point, Hill ran the offense effectively, taking advantage of his quickness with the ball and dribble penetration to set up teammates. Hill found Patric Young for a wide-open dunk to extend UF's lead to 24-16, then had back-to-back assists on Michael Frazier II 3-point attempts to put UF ahead 39-20.
After an 0-for-4 day at the free throw line at South Carolina on Tuesday, Hill scored UF's final four points of the first half with four straight free throws. The 6-foot-1 guard from Umatilla finished the first half with four points and six assists.
“Kasey ran the team and allowed me to keep Scottie on the bench without putting him in harm's way of getting his third (foul),” Donovan said. “I think that says a lot for what Kasey did running our team.”
Overall, it was another strong day for UF's bench, which outscored Kentucky's 24-13. Sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith had 11 points off the bench, going 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Sophomore guard DeVon Walker also drained a 3-pointer and freshman forward Chris Walker had an alley-oop dunk on a feed from Hill.
“We had a really, really good contribution from our entire team there, battling through first-half foul difficulty,” Donovan said.
Florida had an announced crowd of 12,604 against Kentucky for its 12th sellout in 17 home games this season.
For the season, Florida finished with an average attendance of 11,472, about a 7-percent increase from last season's average attendance of 10,677. Capacity for the O'Connell Center is 12,000.
Yeguete's special guest
Will Yeguete invited a special guest to accompany him during pregame Senior Day ceremonies. Along with his former coach at Melbourne Florida Air Academy, Aubin Goporo, Yeguete carried in his arms 4-year-old Kaedyn Ballew, a cancer patient who he befriended at Shands.
Ballew, an Ocala native, has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was two. The cancer is in remission.
“Obviously my family couldn't be here today because they are in France,” Yeguete said. “I asked his mom (Shelsie) and she said, 'OK, I don't mind doing that.' I want everyone to know who he is and for him to remember this time. I just asked him and he said, 'Yeah, I'd love to do that.”
Prather Wooden finalist
Along with being honored during Senior Day ceremonies, Florida senior forward Casey Prather was named as one 15 finalists for the Wooden Award, given to the nation's top college basketball player.
Prather entered Saturday's game against Kentucky leading the Gators in scoring at 14.5 points per game. The 6-foot-6 forward from Jackson, Tenn., scored 15 against the Wildcats.
Other Wooden Award finalists include Creighton forward Doug McDermott, UCLA point guard Kyle Anderson, Michigan State guard Gary Harris, Kentucky forward Julius Randle, Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier, Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins, Michigan guard Nik Stauskas, Louisville guard Russ Smith, Arizona guard Nick Johnson, Duke forward Jabari Parker, Wichita State forward Cleanthony Early, Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis, Syracuse forward C.J. Fair and Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick.
Scouts from 14 different NBA teams were credentialed for the game. … Coming off his 37-point game against South Carolina, Florida sophomore guard Michael Frazier II finished with nine points, two assists and two steals against Kentucky on his 20th birthday. Frazier is 18 of his last 31 from 3-point range. … Florida 2014 signees Chris Chiozza (pg, Memphis, Tenn.) and Devin Robinson (sf, Church View, Va.) attended the game. Several players also attended the game on official or unofficial recruiting visits, including 2015 guard Antonio Blakely (6-4, Oak Ridge, Va.) and 2014 center Trey Mourning (6-10, Miami). Mourning is the son of former Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning.