Gators look to create postseason momentum

This weekend is about regaining momentum for No. 13 Florida. Head coach Billy Donovan and his players called it a big game just because it's the next one, but the Gators have an opportunity to put the disappointing performance at Kentucky behind them this weekend in Nashville. It starts with a rematch against LSU on Friday at 1 p.m.

"I just look at right now that this is what's in front of us," Billy Donovan said. "You have 14 teams that are going to go to Nashville and compete for this. And you're playing for a championship."

Florida and Missouri are likely the only two teams heading to the Southeastern Conference Tournament this weekend that know they'll be playing in the NCAA Tournament next weekend. Everyone else is still fighting to make it.

That doesn't mean there's nothing for the Gators to play for. There's still seeding. While most projections have Florida set to start the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed, a strong tournament combined with other teams losing could push the Gators up to a higher seed.

But, as expected, Donovan isn't concerned. And he's building that mindset into his players.

"I'm not worried about the seed part of it," Donovan said. "I'm not worried about anything else but the fact that we get an opportunity for three days to potentially play for another championship. The regular season is over and done with. It's behind us. That's one we can celebrate and talk about -- it's done.

"This is what's in front of us right now."

After clinching the SEC regular season title and having a good seed for the NCAA Tournament locked up, the temptation would be for the Florida players to go through the motions during the tournament in Nashville. But forward Will Yeguete says that won't be the case.

"The team is going to be ready," Yeguete said. "We're just going to have to play better and expect that they're going to be ready to play and be desperate. We just have to make sure we come out fired up."

Donovan said he's hopeful the time spent in practice since Saturday's loss at Kentucky until the team practiced before leaving on Thursday afternoon will help the group take that next step. It's the longest time they've had to practice without a game since Michael Frazier (concussion) and Yeguete (knee), and the hope is to bring the team back to the level it was before the injury bug slowed the team.

It won't take much for the players to get into the game. The chance for another championship is out there this weekend.

"It's our next challenge," Yeguete said. "We want to play for championships here. We have a chance to win a championship if we win every game in the SEC Tournament. We just want to win."

It will have to come against an LSU team the Gators beat by 22 points in mid-January without Mike Rosario. Kenny Boynton led the way for Florida with 20 points while Tigers forward Johnny O'Bryant III played just 14 minutes. O'Bryant is now completely healthy and more active on the boards, an area the Gators have struggled with in recent games.


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