Gators, Tigers different than first meeting

The 31-point blowout win for Florida over Missouri back on January 19 is one Billy Donovan is trying to make his team forget about, and that isn't to avoid overconfidence. Both teams are now drastically different. The Gators are without Will Yeguete (knee) and Missouri forward Laurence Bowers has now returned after missing the first game with a sprained MCL in his right knee.

"They'll do the same thing we do you're going to watch the film," Billy Donovan said on Monday morning. "You're going to find out where you got hurt, where you caused some problems, adjustment and changes both teams will need to make in the game.

"I'm sure they'll see some things that will be different for us, and we'll see some things that will be different from them."

Laurence Bowers is a key piece to what Missouri does. Junior point guard Phil Pressey, the Preseason SEC Player of the Year, is averaging 12 points and 6.8 assists while being viewed as one of the best distributors in the country. The Gators managed to force him to turn the ball over 10 times in the first meeting between the teams.

It's Bowers that leads the Tigers in scoring. His 14.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game are an important part of the Tigers' attack.

"When we played them obviously the first time he did not play," Donovan said. "A guy that has been referenced by their team, coaches, as a heart-and-soul guy for their team. He's a very, very good player. He can do a lot of different things. He rebounds. He scores from the low post. He can shoot threes. He's very crafty. He's good defensively. He's a very smart player.

"I think any time you take a player like that away from your team, your team is going to be a little bit different. Certainly, he's an older guy, a veteran, a experienced guy. Him being back only makes their team better."

This season hasn't gone the way Missouri intended. They come into Tuesday night's game with an 18-7 record, but all seven of those losses have come on the road. The Tigers are 15-0 at home this season and always play better there. Donovan even noted that Missouri center Alex Oriakhi averages 11 more points at home than on the road.

Missouri is a much better team at home, and that will be on display when the Gators play there at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

"They certainly feel more comfortable shooting the ball at home," Donovan said. "I think the biggest numbers are what you're shooting from the field is right about 48 percent and what they're shooting from three, which is about 42 percent. So they've been a team that's extremely explosive offensively at home."

Their defensive numbers are better, too. The Tigers give up "16-18 points" less at home than they do on the road. It's clear that they feed off the energy that the home crowd brings, and it makes them a much better team.

It's nothing the Gators aren't used to. Arkansas had similar home splits and shot 44.4% from behind the three-point line in an 11-point win over Florida.

"You go play at Arkansas. You got play in certain places around the league, a tough environment's going to be a tough environment," Donovan said. "The noise level any place on the road is going to be loud. I thought Auburn had a real good environment in there on Saturday. Our guys have played on the road. We played at Arizona. That was a very, very difficult place to play.

"We went to Kansas State and played a neutral site and they had a great turnout. Our guys have played in difficult situations. I don't think that there's anything that we're going to talk about environment wise that's going to take our guys totally back or off guard."

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