Gators Prepare for Similar Look

When the Gators return home to host Arizona on Wednesday, they'll see a similar team on the other side of the floor. The Wildcats are also an undersized team that likes to play to their strengths by using four-guard lineups. The athleticism on the court for both teams on Wednesday night at the O'Connell Center will find both teams trying to raise the tempo.

"There are a lot of similarities in how we're playing," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "There are times where we're small, like they're small. They have the ability to alter the look of their team. They can look big or very small."

Starting center Kyryl Natyazhko averages just 11.9 minutes per game, while fellow seven-footer Alex Jacobson averages just five minutes a game. The Wildcats get away with it by playing senior power forward Jesse Perry at center and surrounding him with quick, perimeter players.

Solomon Hill starts as the small forward, but when Arizona goes small, he moves into the power forward slot.

Donovan said from what he has seen on film, Arizona goes to that small lineup "quite a bit." The small lineup from the Wildcats should give the Gators an edge on the glass, but Donovan knows they can still rebound.

"They're a really good rebounding team, but they do it in a different way," Donovan said. "Syracuse does it with length and size, but these guys do it with speed and quickness."

The big men Florida will face are going to be a different challenge. Against Syracuse, the Gators faced frontcourt players with height and length that caused problems in their 2-3 zone.

Arizona has frontcourt players that can create offense for themselves.

"It'll be a different kind of team playing against these guys than Syracuse because Syracuse with Rakeem Christmas and Fab Melo were long and athletic on the front line," Donovan said. "Syracuse did present some challenges that we're going to face in Arizona in that they have guys who can put it on the floor and create plays."

Those challenges have caught the attention of the big men for Florida. The return of Erik Murphy will help the Gators have some extra depth down low, and the junior should be a good matchup for what Arizona wants to do.

Cody Larson was forced into action when Patric Young got into foul trouble at Syracuse. With Murphy back and healthy, especially against a smaller team like Arizona, Murphy can play minutes at center for Young.

"We have watched film on them and they played really small," Florida forward Will Yeguete said. "It's pretty much five guys outside, and they drive a lot. We're working on closing out."

The Wildcats will be without freshman guard Josiah Turner, who Donovan called a "great" point guard, after he missed practice and will be suspended. He is averaging 21.3 minutes per game this season and 7.1 points.

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