Fighting Through a Quick Turnaround

The Gators are preparing for one of their toughest games of the season, and it comes after a short amount of rest. No. 7 Florida is finishing its second Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday turnaround of the season when the Gators travel to Kentucky. Florida head coach Billy Donovan is trying to manage the short turnaround the best way possible.

The challenge for Donovan is to find the right balance between giving his players enough rest and keeping them in the right mindset on the court. It's similar with preparation. Sometimes coaches can overload their players with too much information on a short turnaround.

Donovan said he elects to play it safe and give his players a few key points to focus on against No. 1 Kentucky.

The Gators had what Donovan called "a mental day" on Sunday where the team didn't get "a whole lot done physically." He wanted the team to have their legs under them after a late Thursday tipoff and early Saturday afternoon game. Florida went 2-0 over that span to give them confidence going into the game. Donovan doesn't expect stamina to be an issue for his team.

"I don't see any reason why going into Lexington tomorrow that conditioning should be a problem for us," Donovan said Monday morning. "It's kind of a catch-22 because, on one hand, playing Thursday and then coming back and playing on Saturday at 1 p.m. you're playing in a short time frame but also we were done playing at 3 p.m. so you get a little bit more rest on the back end. I think yesterday being a mental day and today being more of a physical day, getting back to playing again tomorrow night, I don't think there should be any problems with fatigue for our guys. We should be ready to go there."

MURPHY IMPROVING: Erik Murphy is no longer a one-dimensional player for the Gators. Last season, Murphy's three-point shooting ability was a plus off the bench when Florida needed instant offense. This year, he had to improve his defense if he would find his way into the starting lineup.

The junior has started in 18 of the 20 games he has played in this season. His shooting ability is still there, as he is shooting a team-high 46.1% from behind the three-point line, but Murphy is also starting to play better defensively and on the glass.

"He's got to battle and bang like he has," Donovan said. "I think he's gotten better at rebounding over the last six games or so. I think that needs to continue."

Murphy will have a challenge on Tuesday night against Terrence Jones. The Kentucky forward is 6-9, 252 pounds with the ability to use strength in the post. He's also quick enough to blow by defenders when he has the ball on the perimeter. Murphy's post defense has been good this, but he struggled with quicker players on the perimeter.

Donovan isn't more concerned with that matchup than the other ones on the floor.

"Every one of our guys has got a tough matchup so we've got to do it collectively as a team," Donovan said." We don't need to have Erik off on an island by himself, or any player off on an island. We've got to try and provide some help because you can run down there and double-team and trap and do all you want and leave Lamb and Miller and guys wide open on the perimeter and then they're throwing it out for shots. You've got to be able to rotate and make smart choices as to where you're helping out."

BEAL HONORED AGAIN: Florida guard Brad Beal was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this season and the second week in a row. Beal averaged 16.5 points, nine rebounds and two assists last week in wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

RANKINGS: The Gators jumped into the top ten in both polls on Monday. Florida tied with Murray State for the No. 7 spot in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 8 in the AP Poll.


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