Opportunity for a rematch

The Gators will have a rare chance for non-conference revenge on Saturday in Texas. That won't be the most important thing on the line when Florida and Connecticut play in the national semifinal, but the two teams are familiar with each other after the Huskies' buzzer-beating win over the Gators on December 2 in Storrs, Conn.

Shabazz Napier has been the story of No. 7 seed Connecticut pushing its way into the Final Four. That doesn't surprise the Gators. The senior point guard scored 26 points and hit a buzzer beater from the free throw line, beating Florida 65-64. It was the last time the Gators have lost, as they ride a 30-game winning streak to the Final Four.

Casey Prather led Florida with 19 points, but center Patric Young feasted on the Connecticut frontcourt, posting 17 points and seven rebounds in 33 minutes played.

The last possession went exactly like Billy Donovan wanted until the end. The Gators played their usual dominant defense, forcing Napier to take a bad shot with one second remaining and Florida holding a one-point lead. The shot missed so badly that it didn't hit the rim and bounced off the lower part of the backboard, overly the rebounders for both teams and perfectly into Napier's hands.

But there have been plenty of changes since the teams first met.

The Gators have been lucky to stay mostly healthy since the end of the regular season. In the first meeting, backup point guard Kasey Hill was held out of the game with a high ankle sprain. Scottie Wilbekin rolled his ankle with 3:01 left to play and Florida trailing by two points. He didn't return to the game and the offense wasn't as crisp with him having his ankle looked at in the locker room.

Dorian Finney-Smith has also experienced a breakout season en route to winning the SEC Sixth Man of the Year. But in the first meeting, he was merely average. The sophomore had only three points and six rebounds.

Connecticut's team is entirely different. It was led by a three-guard lineup during the first meeting, but Omar Calhoun has played his way out of the starting lineup and even the team's rotation. He didn't play a minute in Sunday's win over Michigan State.

With Calhoun out of the starting lineup, it's still Ryan Boatright and Napier in the starting backcourt but Kevin Ollie now starts a more traditional lineup. DeAndre Daniels, who had 14 points and seven rebounds in the first matchup, is joined by senior Niels Giffey in the starting lineup. His 6-7 frame gives the Huskies more size.

Phillip Nolan, who started the first matchup and played only 11 minutes, is now the team's starting center. The sophomore is 6-10 and 212 pounds, but he struggled while guarding Young on December 2.

Both teams will downplay the significance of the rematch this week, and it likely doesn't have any predictive value for what will happen on Saturday in Texas. However, there has to be an extra chip on Florida's shoulder while getting another chance at a team it last lost to.

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