Notebook: Finney-Smith breaks out

Dorian Finney-Smith spent more time around the Florida basketball facility than usual in the last week. He was angry about his play. After going 3-15 from the field with nine points combined in the last two games against Florida State and Connecticut, Finney-Smith was on a mission. And he didn't wait long on Tuesday to make sure Kansas knew it.

Finney-Smith checked in just 2:15 into the game and hit his first three-pointer just 10 seconds later. He hit another three minutes later to give Florida its first and final lead of the game at 12-10. His third trifecta of the first half made Florida's lead 24-10 with 7:40 left in the first half, the final basket of a 21-0 run that keyed the 67-61 win.

His teammates knew the impact Finney-Smith made, collecting 12 points and three rebounds in the first half.

"He was very important," Kasey Hill said of the forward. "He can stretch the floor and hit threes."

Finney-Smith was inserted in the game for defensive purposes, giving the Gators another body with length to add to its zone defense. What he showed on Tuesday is that he can help the team in many more ways than just his defense. The redshirt sophomore downplayed his importance, crediting Hill and Scottie Wilbekin for finding him.

But this game meant more than just a marquee win. For Finney-Smith, it was getting back on the right foot after back-to-back down games against tough opponents in Florida State and Connecticut.

"I've been struggling," Dorian Finney-Smith said. "I was just trying to get in the gym and grind it out."

Donovan saw the potential for more, too. Finney-Smith went 4-8 from the field in the first half but just 1-5 from the field in the second half. His three-point shots were falling, but he didn't get to the rim like he's capable of.

Even with his strong performance, Donovan wants more from the Virginia Tech transfer.

"He's got to be more efficient offensively, especially around the basket," Donovan said. "He made some threes, which was great, but he had some opportunities to post up and score and be aggressive and just didn't quite finish well enough around the basket. His threes opened some things up for us in the first half offensively."

WIGGINS OPENS EYES: Donovan knew about Andrew Wiggins. He saw plenty of the phenom while out recruiting and watching other players. On Tuesday, the Kansas freshman showed what he's capable of doing, ending with 26 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.

The Florida head coach wants to make sure Wiggins doesn't buy into the outside hype. With comparisons to LeBron James being made of Wiggins for years, any time he doesn't take over and dominate, whispers start to come out about how good he can be. But Donovan knows better.

"I've always appreciated and admired his disposition on the court. For a guy that's so heralded, he always maintains his composure and handles himself great. The minute you start getting comparisons to LeBron James and things like that, if you don't get 30 points every night and dominate and take over, people walk away saying, ‘geez.'

"I just hope for him that he's enjoying his experience there. He's a very good player, very young and explosive. He's got a chance to be a special player and very good player but I always get concerned when I see young kids compared to the greatest players of all time. That just concerns me in terms of, are people going to say when he scores 10 points, ‘boy he's overrated.' He's a really good player and seems to be unselfish, plays the right way."

The Florida players thought Wiggins lived up to the hype, too. He kept Kansas in the game late, hitting 4-9 from behind the three-point line.

"It was fun," Finney-Smith said of facing Wiggins. "He was really good, made some tough threes. Pretty athletic. He's going to be great."

CROWD MAKES AN IMPACT: The Gators pushed their home winning streak to 21 straight on Tuesday night, the second longest in program history behind a 24-game winning streak from March 1, 2006-November 20, 2007. Florida has home games against Savannah State on December 29 and Richmond on January 4 before potentially having a chance to tie the school recover against South Carolina on January 8. If the Gators win all three of those, they can break the school record against Georgia on January 14.

Donovan was quick to point out the impact they made on Tuesday. Students camped outside the O'Connell Center for over 24 hours to get into the dome with good seats.

"I don't know if our student body is going to pass any of their final exams," Donovan said with a laugh. "I appreciate them doing that. It was a great crowd, great environment. I'm very thankful people came and had the enthusiasm they did."


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