UF basketball: Kasey Hill stealing the show this season


Florida guard Kasey Hill (0) has improved his all-around game this season. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun)

Published: Friday, January 13, 2017 at 6:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2017 at 6:24 p.m.

With his college career winding down, Florida senior point guard Kasey Hill is learning the fine line of playing with fire and staying composed.

Facts

SATURDAY

Who: Georgia (11-5, 3-1 SEC) vs. No. 23 Florida (13-3, 4-0)

When: Noon

Where: Exactech Arena/O'Connell Center

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


PROBABLE STARTERS

Florida


G;KeVaughn Allen;6-2;So.;14.2 ppg;2.5 rpg

G;Kasey Hill;6-1; Sr.;9.4 ppg;4.9 apg

F;Devin Robinson;6-8; Jr.;11.8 ppg;5.3 rpg

F;Justin Leon;6-8; RSr.;7.0 ppg;3.2 rpg

C;Kevarrius Hayes;6-9; So.;5.6 ppg;3.9 rpg

Georgia

G;Jordan Harris;6-4;Fr.;5.2 ppg;2.1 apg

G;J.J. Frazier ;Jr.;5-10;Sr.;16.1ppg;4.2 apg

G;Juwan Parker;6-4; RJr.;8.9 ppg;5.9 rpg

F;Derek Ogbeide;6-8;So.;7.3 ppg;6.6 rpg

F;Yante Maten;6-8;Jr.;19.9 ppg;8.6 rpg

Notes: Florida is 111-100 all-time against Georgia and 2-0 against the Bulldogs under Mike White. The Gators have won 11 straight home games in the series, with UF’s last home loss to Georgia coming in 2002. … Florida’s six-game winning streak is its longest in two seasons. The Gators won five in a row to start the season before falling to No. 5 Gonzaga. UF’s longest win streak under White last season was three games. … Florida senior forward Canyon Barry is averaging 16 points over his last two games and is scoring 11.9 points per game off the bench this season. … Georgia is led by junior forward Yante Maten, who ranks second in the SEC in scoring (19.9 ppg) and second in rebounding (8.6 rpg). “He’s one of the most productive guys not only in our league but in the country,” White said. “He’s got an unbelievable feel. He’s extremely consistent.” … The Gators are going to need to do a better job on the boards to keep Georgia from getting second-chance points. Georgia ranks third in the SEC in rebounding margin at plus-5.9, while Florida is tied for ninth at plus-1.9 … Florida is tied with South Carolina for first in the SEC in steals with 8.3 per game.

— Kevin Brockway

The No. 23 Gators will need that continued passion and poise from Hill Saturday when they host Georgia at Exactech Arena.

The 6-foot-1 Hill has impacted UF's 4-0 start in SEC play in different ways. He's recorded 10 steals in his last two games and is third in the SEC in steals with 31. His assist-to-turnover ratio through four SEC games is at 22 to 14.

Hill's quick hands have helped Florida generate an average of 26 points off turnovers in its last two games.

“Defensively (he's) just playing with a ton of energy,” Florida coach Mike White said. “He's rebounding the ball better, he's blocking out better. That's the number that has been our biggest deficiency this year. He's making some intelligent gambles, which we want him doing using his speed and quickness. But just playing hard, just playing with some dog in him. He's embraced that and he's become a really good defender.”

Hill said his recent ability to generate steals has come through experience.

“They allow me to gamble a little bit and I try to use my speed and take advantage,” Hill said. “I've just been getting my hands on a lot of balls.”

Hill will get another challenge defensively in trying to contain speedy Georgia senior guard J.J. Frazier, who ranks ninth in the SEC in scoring (16.1 ppg) and seventh in assists (4.2 apg).

“It's about whether you want to play defense and shut a guy out or not,” Hill said of facing Frazier. “If not, you're going to let him do whatever."

Offensively, Hill is showing more maturity and leadership. Case in point, during UF's second-half comeback Tuesday against Alabama, Hill was whistled for a questionable traveling violation, wiping out a transition layup. Rather than sulk and let it get the best of him mentally, Hill came up with three big steals in the game's final five minutes and went 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the game's final six minutes.

“I'm just moving on to the next play,” Hill said. “I know there's a lot more time left in the game, and I know I can help my team.”

Hill's 4.9 assists per game rank third in the SEC and he's four assists shy of passing Nick Calathes (452 assists) for fourth on UF's all-time assist list. Besides the defense and ability to create for others, Hill has been more vocal in games and in practices and is trying to take on more of a leadership role.

“He's playing with that senior urgency,” White said. “And he's doing it in practice, too. He's just been really competitive ...

“He's almost leading himself, and the more he talks the more his motor gets going. It's infectious.”

Hill said it's taken time to become comfortable being more vocal.

“I'm not a guy who goes out and just talks like that, so it was hard for me my first couple of years,” Hill said. “But on the court I know that it helps everybody else, so I try to do it as much as I can.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or kevin.brockway@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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