Free Throws Almost Cost Gators

The early season free throw struggles didn't hurt the Gators against lesser out of conference teams, but they almost cost them a win against Arizona. Florida opened the game going 2-for-14 from the free throw line. From then on, the Gators shot 13-for-18 from the free throw line, but the damage was done early when Arizona was able to stay in the game because of the inability to make free throws.

"We can get a lot better in that area," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said before Thursday's practice. "I'm not a real big believer in people saying that the guys will make them when they really need them. I think every one is important. You need every one."

The main way Donovan has tried to fix the free throw shooting woes is in practice. It's hard to create the pressure that comes with shooting a big free throw in a game, but Donovan and the Florida staff try to put something on the line for the players to work for.

He will call a player to the free throw line to shoot, and if he misses, the entire team has to run a suicide. Other times, he'll send six players to the free throw line to shoot two each, and if they don't combine to make at least nine, the team will run.

"When Will (Yeguete) goes to the free throw line and misses four in a row, and now they're on their fifth suicide, he probably feels a little pressure and feels bad that the guys are running," Donovan said. "You try to simulate it as best as you can."

The biggest thing Donovan wants his team to focus on is their focus when at the free throw line.

"I think there's a focus that needs to be there and more of a consistency mentally for those guys when they're there," Donovan said. "That's a locked in, tunnel vision on what they need to do when they're at the line."

POWER FORWARD DEPTH: There aren't many frontcourt bodies available for the Gators this season, making Erik Murphy's return from a knee injury even more important than normal. Even with him back, Donovan plans to keep Will Yeguete as the starter.

"Right now we'll stay with Will, so Erik can get his legs under him and some more minutes under his belt," Donovan said. "Will has obviously played well and given us a boost in Erik's absence."

Murphy practiced just twice before playing against Arizona. He was on the court for 15 minutes and hit one three-pointer while getting back in a groove on the floor. Murphy gives the Gators a long-range shooter they don't from anyone else at the power forward position.

"From an offensive standpoint, Erik can stretch the floor and shoot the ball," Donovan said. "We certainly need to get him back in the rotation and back playing."

DONOVAN ORDERED FOUL: On the final play of regulation against Arizona, Donovan ordered Casey Prather to foul. The Gators were up three points with four seconds left when Prather intentionally hit Solomon Hill across the arm. Donovan wanted his team to foul before the shot, but the ref ruled that Hill was in the act of shooting when the fouled occurred.

"(Prather) did exactly what we wanted to do," Donovan said. "I've been in a lot of situations. In a side out of bounds play, they were going to have to throw the ball to somebody, and I felt like we could match up and get there. Casey did exactly what we wanted to happen."

The question centered on the foul call. Hill had his back to the basket when Prather locked up his right arm, and when contact was made, Hill attempted to turn and shoot in one motion. Donovan was irate on the sideline and even said on Thursday that he didn't agree.

"I just felt like the guy fouled him before (the shot)," Donovan said. "I felt good about what we did there. I've never seen a guy start his act of shooting with his back to the basket."


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