Gators prepared for road test

Florida's porous three-point defense against Auburn on Wednesday was almost the reason for a loss. If it doesn't improve on Saturday, the Gators could see their school record 18-game winning streak come to an end. Ole Miss leads the Southeastern Conference with 8.1 three-pointers made per game, led by leading scorer Marshall Henderson.

Auburn shot 10-19 from behind the three-point line on Wednesday, the second most three-pointers the Gators have given up this season. Freshman point guard Tahj Shamsid-Dean got hot early and finished the game 5-8 for three.

Three-point defense has been the biggest stumbling block for an otherwise elite Florida defense this season. The Gators are 11th in the SEC, allowing opponents to shoot 34.5 percent, which includes Tennessee shooting 1-19 for three against the Gators in late January.

The three-point line was the focal point of the team's film review on Thursday, and it'll be an important factor against Ole Miss.

"We can do our jobs better and harder -- that was certainly clear," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "This is a different team from the standpoint that Auburn was only making about five threes a game while this team is making about eight a game and obviously has the ability to make much more."

The challenge gets even more difficult by playing at Oxford, where the Ole Miss plays very well. Led by Marshall Henderson's 19.4 points, Ole Miss depends on its guards for scoring. Junior Jarvis Summers is second on the team with 17 points per game.

"(They are) a team that is very, very explosive offensively, a team that at home is shooting about 45 percent from the field in league play and about 40 percent from three," Donovan said. "They lead the league in number of threes made. It's a great challenge defensively for us against a very explosive team that averages about 76 points a game."

The Gators lost to Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament final last season, and the most memorable highlight for the Florida players was watching Henderson to the Gator chomp on the floor. That video has been playing throughout the Florida basketball facility this week, serving as a constant reminder to the Gators.

"We have a video playing of him doing it over and over again in our locker room, so how could I forget?" Patric Young asked.

Donovan said the Gators won't change their defense to prepare for Henderson and won't stick only one player on him. However, there's a good chance Florida's defensive ace Scottie Wilbekin will see the most time guarding Henderson. The senior has always been more amped up for opportunities against elite scorers, and Saturday is no different.

"He takes a lot of pride in his defense," Young said. "He's just a different animal."

INJURY REPORT: Florida point guard Kasey Hill is doubtful with a groin injury suffered against Kentucky. The Gators will be forced to use DeVon Walker and Michael Frazier as backup point guard options.

"He is probably progressing a little bit more slowly than we maybe anticipated when he first got hurt," Donovan said. "Right now I would say unless there's some kind of miraculous recovery here this afternoon I would say he'd be out tomorrow."

Forward Casey Prather (knee, ankle) will play on Saturday but continues to be slowed by his injuries. He rolled the ankle against Auburn on Wednesday, and Donovan wants him to continue being aggressive despite the injury.

Guard Michael Frazier sprained his left wrist while falling on Wednesday against Auburn. Donovan said he is "a little bit hampered" but is cleared to play. The good news for Florida is that the injury isn't on his shooting hand.

Center Patric Young almost sat out against Auburn because of continued knee issues, but he played through it and ended with 17 points and seven rebounds. He said the knee flared up during warm ups during a "freak" incident, but the knee feels fine and he will play against Ole Miss.


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