Gators drop road test at Wisconsin

Billy Donovan understood the situation in his postgame interview on Florida's radio broadcast. The Gators didn't have a full roster because of three suspended players, and multiple players on the court are still battling nagging injuries. The positives were still easy to spot, as No. 11 Florida showed improvement from its season opener while falling to No. 20 Wisconsin 59-53.

"We got off to a really good start," Billy Donovan said on the postgame radio show. "When you're on the road with new faces and guys in different roles, one of the most difficult things to do is digging yourself into a hole and you can never overcome it. We made some strides. I felt, sitting there, that we got better since the North Florida game."

The game opened exactly how Donovan wanted. The Florida defense showed noticeable improvement, holding Wisconsin to four points for the first 8:54 of play as the Gators opened on a 16-4 run. Everything was clicking the way the Florida coaches wanted.

Michael Frazier opened the game by scoring nine of Florida's first 16 points -- all on three-pointers.

"The biggest thing I was proud of is how we started," Donovan said. "We were aggressive. Michael Frazier made some big shots to open the lead up."

As the first half continued, the Badgers got back into the game, sparked by back-to-back three-pointers from Sam Dekker to cut the Florida lead to six points midway through the first half.

Wisconsin ended the first half on a 25-10 run.

"Even though we're short handed, there are still things we can do better and on a more consistent basis," Donovan said. "We have too many breakdowns in crucial situations."

For the second game in a row, the Florida offense was slowed by foul trouble for freshman point guard Kasey Hill. He fouled out of the game, ending with 29 minutes played. Donovan thought the fouls came from struggles on the offensive end.

In his first career road game, Hill went 2-11 from the field and turned the ball over twice while scoring four points. Without a true backup point guard on the roster while Scottie Wilbekin is suspended, the offense became stagnant with Hill off the floor.

"Kasey (Hill) missed a lot of shots tonight, but that's part of the game. He's a freshman," Donovan said. "You figure those things out. With him not shooting well, I thought it effected his energy and focus on the defensive end with him picking up fouls. He's the only true point guard we have right now. We need him to be on the floor.

"He fell asleep, probably thinking about previous plays. This is a good experience for him to see how he's being guarded, what people are doing to him and how he needs to attack and play.

Despite the struggles to score, Florida found a way to be in the game late. After Patric Young hit one of two free throws to cut the Wisconsin lead to three points, the Gators tried for a stop to allow a chance for a three-pointer to tie it.

Instead, Traevon Jackson hit a tough jumper as the shot clock expired to push the lead to five points with eight seconds remaining.

"We want to take away threes and layups. We guarded the three, we took away the layup, and we challenged him to make a tough shot," Donovan said. "And he did."

The Gators now get three days to correct their mistakes before hosting Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. According to the Gainesville Sun, Donovan said in his postgame press conference that he is unsure if he will lift the suspensions of Dorian Finney-Smith, Damontre Harris or Wilbekin before Saturday's game.

With the improvement his team showed from game one to game two, Donovan is optimistic about the team moving forward.

"I was pleased with the strides we made coming out of the North Florida game. We've really gotten better. This is really, really good for our team to see what we've got to do to get better."

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