Notebook: Shooting over the zone

With Florida up 19 points with just over 10 minutes left to play, Ole Miss went into a zone, daring the Gators to shoot three-pointers. It's a scary thing to do against Florida. The ball movement produced open looks on the perimeter, as the Gators launched six three-pointers in a stretch with 3:42 coming off the clock. Florida hit just two of those three-pointers, keeping Ole Miss in the game.

A quiet groan started to come from the crowd as three-pointers continued to launch. Florida head coach Billy Donovan continued to clap, encouraging optimism and for the shots to continue to be taken.

From 10:35 on the clock in the second half until there was 6:53 left, the Gators took a three-pointer on six of seven possessions. The one time it didn't end in a three-point attempt came when Erik Murphy turned the ball over, keeping Florida from even taking a shot.

Going 2-for-6 wasn't what Donovan expected to happen in that time period. That's what makes Saturday even scarier. Florida beat a ranked opponent and the second best team in the Southeastern Conference by 14 points, but it came with Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin combining to go 2-for-14 from behind the arc. The two did combine for 17 of Florida's 23 assists.

The rest of the Gators combined to go 9-for-15 for three. And Donovan encouraged them to keep on chucking as the Rebels tried to pack their zone inside and take away the paint.

"We got good looks," Donovan said. "They packed it in, and if you're not shooting well and shooters aren't making shots, the zone becomes more and more effective because we can't jam it inside.

"We got really, really good looks. Boynton had good looks, Scottie Wilbekin had good looks. They just didn't really knock down shots or we could've opened the game up even more."

It's hard to say that Florida didn't play well on Saturday considering the outcome against a team that has played well this year. The Gators didn't look like themselves on offense at times. The shots weren't always falling, and that could help Donovan wondering if the offensive production would've been better on another day.

"If (Boynton and Wilbekin) make a few more threes, we probably have 90," Donovan said.

MILESTONE FOR YOUNG: It's hard to believe, but Saturday served as the first double-double for Patric Young in a conference game. The junior center recorded 13 points and 12 rebounds while adding two blocked shots.

It also came against one of the best frontcourts in the SEC with Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway. It was obvious early in the game that Young was going to be all over the court. While bringing the ball up after a steal, an Ole Miss player stole it back from Young and went in for an uncontested layup. Young sprinted after him and blocked the layup.

"I thought Patric played great," Donovan said. "He played a great defensive game. I thought he did a good job around the basket."

The difference was at the rim. Despite being bigger than plenty of opponents this season, Young has struggled to rebound throughout his career. He pulled down 12 on Saturday night against the best offensive rebounding team in the SEC.

"The best thing Patric Young did is that it's the best I've seen him chase the ball on the backboard in a long time," Donovan said. "He goes for a double-double. He was active, chasing balls, aggressive and jumping. He had a very, very good game."

After a block late in the game, Young was favoring his left arm enough for a referee to call a timeout for the injury. Young waved off a substitute and continued to stay in the game. Donovan was initially worried but said after the game that it wasn't an issue.

"I thought he dislocated it with the way he was walking around, but he's fine," Donovan said.

PRATHER EASING BACK: Casey Prather returned to play three minutes against South Carolina on Wednesday and then played six minutes against Ole Miss on Saturday. He's cleared to play and not suffering pain from the high ankle sprain he experienced at LSU on January 12, but he still needs to knock some rust off before getting back to his normal minutes.

"I tried to throw him in against South Carolina, and he did a good job," Donovan said. "He's got to get himself back in the mix a little more."

There also wasn't a huge need for him on Saturday night. The Florida big men weren't in foul trouble, and despite Prather playing more minutes when healthy, Donovan didn't want to disturb the way his team was playing.

"We tried to get him back in some minutes, but Yeguete was playing well and Young and Murphy were not in foul trouble," Donovan said. "They weren't fatigued. Casey needs more practice time. It's hard when you've been out for two or three weeks like he has."

SEC STANDINGS: It was a predictable response for Donovan. He always preaches for his players to focus on the process and not get caught looking ahead. So when he was asked about Saturday's win giving the Gators a two-game lead in the SEC standings, it wasn't a surprised when he downplayed it.

"I don't think it even makes a difference," Donovan said. "We aren't even to the halfway point. We've got a lot of basketball to play. All the league standings really don't mean anything. I don't really league at a lead or not a lead. I'm just more concerned with us getting better. What's left on our schedule is hard."

It is still meaningful for Florida. The Gators moved to 8-0 in conference play, two games ahead of Alabama, Kentucky and Ole Miss — all at 6-2.

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