Gators proud of title, looking for more

After No. 1 Florida clinched the outright Southeastern Conference title with Kentucky's loss on Thursday night, the players were notified with a text from the coaching staff. It started with congratulations on the accomplishment, but it ended with a different message. There's still plenty for the Gators left to earn this season.

"Coach D told us that we need to chase greatness and what happened had nothing to do with us," Florida guard Michael Frazier said. "We still have a game tomorrow that we need to focus on and that we're going to try and win."

The message translated to practice on Friday. The theme of "chase greatness" has been pounded into the players' heads, as both Dorian Finney-Smith and Frazier mentioned it multiple times when they met with the media on Friday. It's the challenge Donovan is prodding his team with.

They locked up the conference title -- one of their preseason goals -- with three regular season games remaining. But now is not the time to put it into cruise control heading into the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

"The league is not over. We still have three games remaining," Donovan said. "I think our guys certainly set out to compete for an SEC championship in early January but at the same point, the season's not over. Our guys have done a good job up to this point in time of staying focused and going through the process of getting prepared for each game, and I don't think this game is any different for us in terms of you want to continue playing well. I still think there is a lot out there in front of our team."

The nudge from the coaching staff to the players about staying focused wasn't meant to detract from what the team has already accomplished. Even with the conference title locked up, the Gators are playing for NCAA Tournament seeding. Florida also is looking to extended its 19-game winning streak and 29-game home winning streak when it hosts LSU on Saturday at 4 p.m.

"It's nice. We worked for it," Frazier said. "But at the same time we're trying to chase greatness. We're not settling for this. We still have a game tomorrow, and that's what we're focusing on. It's great to have that honor. But we still have a lot of things to accomplish. We still have a lot of goals."

INJURY REPORT: Florida backup point guard Kasey Hill will play on Saturday after battling a groin injury that kept him out of the last three games. His absence forced senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin into big minutes, and that will change when Hill returns on Saturday.

"He's going to play," Donovan said. "He practiced yesterday and looked pretty good, no pain. No limping or anything that I can notice where he looks hampered our bothered. He was out there the whole time. I think our trainer felt like he could have possibly thrown him in there against Vanderbilt but it was one of those things where he just thought it was a little bit of a risk. If he did tweak it again it could put him out for another 10 days or so, so I think he feels pretty confident with playing Tuesday, having Wednesday as a day off and now yesterday – those extra days have really helped him."

The Florida coaching staff will also monitor the team's physical conditioning over the next few weeks. As the Gators head toward the postseason, Donovan wants to make sure his team has their legs at full strength.

The coaches can change the design of practices to allow the team to get back to full strength, and that might happen in the midweek the Gators have off before the start of the SEC Tournament, but he likes where his team is at physically heading into this weekend.

"I think a lot of it is much, much more mental than it is physical," Donovan said. "There's things that you need to do to maintain conditioning, to be sharp and to do those things. But I think from the health standpoint, we're about as good as we can be right now. We don't have anything significantly ailing. But I think everybody's probably somewhat banged up. Everybody's probably dealing with sore knees, lower backs, tendinitis, those kind of things that are wear and tear injuries.

"But we can adjust practice, and we can do things to kind of get them back physically. The biggest thing you want them to do is to try to be able to get game-in-and game out to that emotional level you want to. And it's a grind mentally to emotionally get there each and every game."

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