EDITORS NOTE: Welcome to the Gator Country “Opening Tip” our table setter for the next Florida basketball game. In it, you’ll find everything you need to know including notes on the game, interesting minutia and streaks on the line in the game. We’ll also have broadcast info and details about who will be taking the floor among other things, we hope you enjoy!
No. 1 Florida (25-2/14-0 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (15-11/7-7 SEC)
Memorial Gym (capacity 14,316) – Nashville. (UF is 7-9 in Memorial Gym under head coach Billy Donovan)
Gametime: 7 p.m.
Play-by-Play: Brad Nessler
Color Analyst: Jimmy Dykes
Sideline Reporter: Shannon Spake
Radio: Gator IMG Sports Network
Play-by-Play: Mick Hubert
Color Analyst: Mark Wise
What’s at stake?
The Gators enter Memorial Gym as the No. 1 team in the nation, the first time they’ve been featured in the top spot in seven years. Florida is also atop the SEC standings and with a win they’ll clinch at least a share of the SEC regular season championship. The Gators have a school record 19 game win streak they are looking to extend as well as being tied for the most consecutive SEC wins in school history. The Gators are 7-0 on the road in conference, the longest conference road win streak in school history and are also looking to extend their best start in school history to 26-2. With one more game of 5+ three pointers guard Micheal Frazier II will tie Anthony Roberson, Brett Nelson and Lee Humphrey with most games with 5+ three pointers made. Center Patric Young is also one point away from tying Nick Calathes for 36th on UF’s all-time scoring list.
F- Will Yeguete (6-8, 230, Sr.) PPG 5.4–RPG 5.3
F- Casey Prather (6-6 212 Sr.) PPG 15.4–RPG 5.4
C- Patric Young (6-9 240 Sr.) PPG 10.8–RPG 6.3
PG- Scottie Wilbekin (6-2 176 Sr.) PPG 13.8–RPG 3.8
SG- Michael Frazier II (6-4 199 So.) PPG 12.3–RPG 3.4
F- Rod Odom (6-9 212 Sr.) PPG 14.2–RPG5.7
F- James Siakam (6-7 215 RJr.) PPG 7.8–RPG 5.4
C- Damian Jones (6-10 235 Fr.) PPG 11.6–RPG 5.8
G- Kyle Fuller (6-1 188 Sr.) PPG 11.6–RPG 4.5
G- Dai-Jon Parker (6-3 190 Jr.) PPG 7.5–RPG 4.2
Florida head coach Billy Donovan
On the No. 1 ranking: “I always think any time that that happens, it’s an honor. I’m not dismissing that. I’m not dismissing the polls, I’m not dismissing any of that stuff. But I think what happens is sometimes you can get focused on that and what happens is now everything that you do is attached to a ranking. No. 1 Florida — if we stay No. 1. I don’t even know if it’s out yet. You never hear like No. 2 Florida. It’s No. 1. It’s that ranking that gets dragged with your team.
On keeping his team grounded in the moment: “Well here’s the thing right now that you try to get young people to understand and probably being around the game and being in these situations. Every time anybody takes a shot on our team and I can probably say this for every other player in the country, they wanna make it. They want to make it. And what happens to me, is guys get very, very convicted on results. They want the result, and they lose total perspective of the process. It’s the process that ultimately puts you in the best situation to get the kind of results that you’re working for.”
On the strange atmosphere in Memorial Gym: “We’ll get a chance during shootaround. We’ll get a chance to get to the arena. I think anytime, we’re going to have some places that we’ve gone to. Last year, going to Missouri, that was my first time we were there. That was our team’s first time we were there. There’s going to be some places we’re going to go to that our team hasn’t been there. We’ve got plenty of time to prepare and get ready for that.”
Florida forward Will Yeguete
On Billy Donovan’s motivational tactics: “One thing he did in the game against Auburn. He had a bag on the ground and he put some weights inside of it. He told me to pick it up. He said, ‘This is for you, Will. Just pick it up and put it in your locker.’ So I picked it up with one hand and it wasn’t easy. I was like, ‘No, this is heavy.’ He was like, ‘Well, because you thought it was going to be easy but it wasn’t.’ He used that as an example just saying that Auburn’s game wasn’t going to be easy because we beat them and because of their record we can’t go in there thinking it’s going to be easy.”
On teammate Patric Young: “He’s focused every day. He’s more focused and trying to be our leader. I think he, you know, he’s having a really good season and had a really good past few games. He’s just more focused and I think he talks more to us. I think Scottie’s done a really good job, but I think Pat is doing a really good job staying consistent and not letting anything get to him.”
Florida shooting guard Micheal Frazier II
On if he thinks the Gators are the best team in the country: “That’s not really for me to say because I don’t know how good every other team in the country is. All I know is that we have a lot of things we can get better at and we need to get better. The only thing that matters is us staying in love with the grind and falling in love with the process of getting better every day.”
On closing in on winning the SEC title: “We’re just concerned about winning every game. That’s a great honor, but we have to look at the game in front of us, which is tomorrow night and try not to look too far into the future.”
Other game notes
In the last six games point guard Scottie Wilbekin has averaged 18.7 points per game…..Florida’s seven straight road wins are tied for the fourth longest streak in the nation…..With their win over Arkansas Florida has now won its most recent game against all 13 SEC teams…..The Gators have finished the last two Januarys undefeated…..UF’s scoring defense ranks eighth in the nation allowing 58.7 points per game…..Florida had a season high 12 three-pointers against Ole Miss.