Gators expect to have Frazier at Kentucky

Florida hits the road for its biggest test of the season at Kentucky on Saturday, but they did get some good news late this week.

Guard Michael Frazier went through some parts of practice on Thursday and is expected to play in some capacity on Saturday against the Wildcats at 2 p.m. (TV: CBS). Frazier suffered a high ankle sprain during the first game against Kentucky on February 7 and has missed the last seven games for Florida (15-15, 8-9 SEC).

Frazier leads the team with 13.2 points per game, shooting 40.1 percent from behind the three-point line and adding 4.6 rebounds per game.

“How much he’ll be able to play, I don’t know,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I wasn’t really looking at all at his shooting of rhythm. I was looking at how he was moving. I thought he moved pretty well in practice. I’m going into the game with him available. It’s another body in our backcourt.”

Donovan said he’ll likely continue to have pain for the rest of the season, and the injury likely won’t be fully healed until he has an extended time to rest during the offseason. The Florida coach hasn’t made a decision about the starting lineup he’ll use on Saturday, but it’s unlikely the Gators will use a three-guard starting lineup like they have in the last two games.

Instead, Florida will have to play bigger.

If Kentucky starts Trey Lyles at the small forward position as expected, the Wildcats will have three players that are 6-10 or taller in the starting lineup, which Donovan called the “biggest front line in college basketball.” Jon Horford was the only player taller than 6-6 in Florida’s starting lineup last game against Texas A&M, but that will likely change on Saturday.

Donovan talked about the possibility of playing Horford and Chris Walker on the floor together with the 6-8 Dorian Finney-Smith playing small forward.

“We would have matchup problems all over the place,” Donovan said of the possibility that they start the same lineup as last game.

The Gators head into Saturday’s matchup against a Kentucky team sitting at 30-0 on the year and 17-0 in Southeastern Conference play. One win from closing out a perfect regular season, the Wildcats have been tested by multiple teams this year but always found a way to win. Florida challenged Kentucky in the first meeting, with the Wildcats clinging to a two-point lead with as low as 1:30 to play.

The challenge for the Gators in that game, as it has been throughout this season, is their ability to put together a consistent game.

“You can’t be inconsistent at all against them,” Donovan said. “We’ve got to play as close to our fullest potential as we can, and that’s going to require good shots on offense against them, which is hard to do.”

Playing the Wildcats at Rupp Arena makes it an even tougher challenge.

“It’s a great challenge,” Finney-Smith said. “They’re about to go undefeated in the conference if we can’t stop it. They’re a great team that’s learning fast. When adversity hits, they always find a way to win.”

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