Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Expecting Tougher Test; Vols Were No Match Last Month as Gators Clamped Down on McRae

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Expecting Tougher Test; Vols Were No Match Last Month as Gators Clamped Down on McRae

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Pincus

No. 3 Florida can expect to see a different Tennessee team Tuesday night than the one it routed by 26 points less than three weeks ago.

Tennessee leading scorer Jordan McRae, who averages 19.3 points per game (fifth in the SEC), shot 1 of 15 at the O'Connell Center. The senior gets a second crack at the Gators, who have won 15 games in a row and haven't lost since Dec. 2 at Connecticut.

"We know it's going to be a different game. I can feel that," UF senior forward Will Yeguete said. "We know McRae is going to come out for 15 (points) in their place. We just need to do a better job defensively."

Playing better defense might be impossible for a Florida team that held the Volunteers to a 26.8 field goal percentage during the first meeting. That's the second lowest for a SEC opponent in coach Billy Donovan's 18-year tenure with the Gators.

Senior forward Casey Prather, Florida's lengthiest perimeter defender at 6-foot-6, did not practice Sunday night due to a sprained left ankle. The injury continues to hamper Prather, who is emerging as an SEC Player of the Year candidate, but he's expected to play Tuesday.

Yeguete and senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin acknowledged the poor performance by McRae wasn't just a stellar UF defensive performance. It was also an uncharacteristic shooting night from Tennessee, which averages 73 points per game. The Gators allowed seven first half field goals on 25 attempts en route to a 67-41 victory.

"What they shot against us from the field in the first half I don't think was really 100 percent indicative of us defensively. Do I think we did a good job defensively? Yes," Donovan said. "Do the numbers reflect that that's exactly because of us? Probably not, but it's probably somewhere in the middle."

The Gators lead the SEC in defensive field goal percentage (39 percent). Starting four seniors (Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Yeguete and center Patric Young) provides Donovan with the flexibility to run different defensive systems. …

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