Gators looking to overcome fatigue, Vols

The Thursday-Saturday turnaround for No. 6 Florida got a little more complicated for the Gators after beating Alabama. Florida made its way to the airport but was delayed because of mechanical difficulties to the plane. The team went back to its hotel and stayed the night in Tuscaloosa before making it back to Gainesville by noon on Friday. Now the Gators prepare for a quick turnaround.

Florida coach Billy Donovan didn't want to use the issues as an excuse on Friday. The Gators have been successful during Thursday-Saturday turnarounds in recent years, but the challenge has never had unique circumstances like this one.

On Thursday night, the Gators got checked in and back to their original hotel rooms by 11 p.m. Donovan and the coaching staff set up in one room and started to focus in on the Tennessee film. While the challenge of a big, physical Volunteers team lingers after a quick turnaround, the Gators believe it's their mental focus that has to take an extra step forward on Saturday at 4 p.m.

"Be mentally ready," Casey Prather said. "We just know that we have a lot to do. We have a quick turnaround so we have to try to take advantage of the time in scout and get ready for the game."

The Gators ran through an easy practice on Friday. There wasn't much of an emphasis on the physical part of it, hoping that it would help the players get their legs back under them. They ran through the scouting report to prepare mentally and help the players know what to expect before hitting the floor on Saturday.

Even with Donovan downplaying the significance of it, he does admit that he'll think about using his bench for more minutes than usual against the Volunteers.

"We've got to look at that," Donovan said. "I would guess we would try to use our entire team to the best of our ability."

Tennessee starts four players that stand at least 6-6, led by big men Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes, combining to average 24.6 points and 17.9 rebounds. Both players weigh 260 pounds, 20 more than Florida's biggest player in center Patric Young. It's a challenge the Gators have to prepare for.

"They're both really, really good players," Donovan said. "They have the ability to go really, really physical up front with (Maymon) and Stokes. Those two guys are really, really good frontcourt players. They rebound the ball very well. I think they're one and three in the league rebounding-wise, and they give a great effort all the time."

The challenge doesn't end up front. Senior Jordan McRae leads Tennessee with 19.2 points and causes problems on the perimeter with his 6-6 frame and the athleticism of a quicker player. The Gators are aiming for a win after losing three straight against the Volunteers, and slowing McRae will go a long way to make that happen.

"He's a good player," Prather said of McRae. "He provides great scoring for his team. He has tremendous length. He can shoot the ball. He can get in the lane and create for himself and for his teammates. We're going to have to do a good job on him."


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