Notebook: Slowing down McRae

The Gators only had one day of practice to put their defensive game plan in before playing Tennessee on Saturday. No. 6 Florida tried to double team any time the ball was thrown to big men Jerrone Maymon or Jarnell Stokes, forcing Tennessee to hit jump shots. The best bet to do that -- Tennessee leading scorer Jordan McRae -- went 1-15 from the field and struggled throughout the day.

Even when Florida double-teamed the Tennessee big men, the coaches were comfortable to leave ace defender Scottie Wilbekin on the perimeter with Jordan McRae. Even with the four-inch height advantage for McRae, Wilbekin continued to add to his reputation as one of the best perimeter defenders in the country.

"Everybody knows how Scottie is," Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith said with a laugh. "He's a great defender and did a great job."

Wilbekin has become comfortable trusting other players on the defense to help, keeping him from playing overaggressive and potentially getting into foul trouble. He did that perfectly on Saturday against a bigger scorer.

Billy Donovan knew that McRae's day would be determined by what happened early in the game. If he got hot, the Gators could be in for a long day. However, the senior's slow start gave Florida a chance to extend the lead.

"Like most scorers, when he gets going early, he becomes very difficult to stop because he's got very good length and size," Donovan said. "We made him take tough shots early. Most of the shots he took were difficult, not a lot of difficult looks. We were there on the catch and provided help. We had really good awareness on him tonight."

THREE-POINT DEFENSE: Florida came into Saturday with the 12th best three-point defense in the Southeastern Conference. The Gators were actually allowing a better percentage on three-point field goals than on two-point field goals. That will change after Saturday's effort.

Florida held Tennessee to 1-19 from behind the three-point line on Saturday. In the last two games, Florida has held opponents to 3-31 from behind the three-point line.

"We give up 44 percent, so maybe things are evening out a little bit," Donovan said. "They had open shots that didn't go down for them. I thought we played some good defense, but 1-19 will bring our numbers back somewhere down near respectable."

The Florida defense held Tennessee to 15 points under its previous season low of 56. The Volunteers were also held to 34 points below their season average for points.

DEPTH IN SCORING: It's not a coincidence that most of Donovan's team have the same pattern in scoring. There are almost always multiple players in double figures, the way Donovan wants it to be.

"It's critical. I've always been a big believer that you want 4-6 guys in double figures," Donovan said. "You don't know whose night it's going to be in terms of having a big offensive night. I'm a big believer in not just having one guy."

It was never more obvious than against Auburn. Michael Frazier was coming off a career high 21 points and the Tigers planned to take him out of the game. It worked. However, the Gators were able to get enough scoring elsewhere. Donovan never wants his team to rely too heavily on one player to score.

"If you're all low post and a team decides to take away the low post and make you make jump shots, at some point in time you're going to have to solve that dilemma," Donovan said. "On any given night, I want people to look at our team and see that this guy had 18, this guy had 25."


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