Green: Gators Motivated To Avenge Loss To SC

The scoreboard read South Carolina 68, Florida 62. In the books it looked respectable but a loss is still a loss and Taurean Green doesn't take losing all that well. The sting of losing doesn't go away quickly for Florida's lightning in a bottle point guard, especially when losing is complicated by sloppy, uninspired play. It's one thing to lose to a team that's better on a given night. It's another thing altogether to lose because you gave the game away.

Green is determined that Florida will not have a repeat of that lackadaisical effort Wednesday night when the Gators (20-2, 6-2 SEC) play host to South Carolina (11-10, 2-6 SEC) at the O'Connell Center (7 p.m., 11 p.m. TV Tape Delay on Sun Sports).

The Gators played with a distinct lack of energy that night in Columbia. It showed in the rebounding stats --- Florida was outrebounded 32-31 by the smaller Gamecocks who outhustled the Gators for a 14-5 advantage in offensive rebounds. Florida's lack of intensity also showed in the turnover department. South Carolina only turned the ball over eight times while the Gators handed the ball back 17 times.

"We just didn't come out with the right focus," said Green, who had 17 points and seven assists that night. He also turned the ball over five times and on the defensive end of the floor, he didn't pick up a single steal.

"We didn't come out with any energy and intensity or anything," Green said Monday. "They got all the hustle plays."

It particularly galled Green that the Gators weren't giving up their bodies to take charges or to dive on the floor for loose balls. They weren't making that extra effort to tip a rebound away or swat away a dribble or get their hands in the passing lane, little things that create turnovers or changes of possession.

In Florida's 17-0 start to begin the season, doing all the little things personified the Gators. They were the team that played with intensity. They were the team that walked away with the most floor burns, scratches and bruises from making that extra effort.

"We didn't play anywhere close to where we're capable of playing," said Green. "They beat us to every loose ball. They just wanted it more than us."

The Gators had a season-low 11 assists against South Carolina. Quick shots were the norm for a team that had opened the season with 17 straight wins by making the extra pass.

Florida has righted its listing ship in the last three games, showing focus and resolve in wins at home over Vanderbilt and Kentucky that sandwich a road win at Ole Miss. The Gators have regained their defensive intensity and they have reverted back to their make the extra pass mentality on the offensive end.

The intensity has been outstanding in the three wins, particularly Saturday night when Florida took Kentucky to the woodshed. Green had the best game of his career with 29 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. His ability to penetrate and make the interior passes to Florida's big men was the critical element in the game. Led by Joakim Noah, who had a career-high 26 points, Florida's big man trio of Noah, Al Horford and Chris Richard hit 18-21 shots from the field. Kentucky had no answers.

The Gators shot 57.7 percent from the field and after making defensive adjustments at the intermission, held Kentucky to 32.4 percent from the floor in the second half and 40.3 percent for the game.

In the three games since the South Carolina loss, the Gators have forced 51 turnovers and held opponents to 14-58 shooting from the three-point line.

Green knows the Gators need to come out with the same kind of intensity they have played with the last three games Wednesday night in the O-Dome against South Carolina. He's had this game circled on his calendar ever since and he's determined that the Gators will play like they are capable of playing.

"We are motivated to play every game but we have to be extra focused for this game because they beat us at their place and it was an embarrassing loss," said Green. "We're really looking forward to playing them."

When the Gators played South Carolina in Columbia, Corey Brewer was still hobbling from the sprained ankle he suffered in the loss to Tennessee. Brewer is almost back to normal now and it's likely he will be able to contribute more than the three points and two steals he had in 17 minutes of action in Columbia. Against Kentucky, Brewer had 16 points, four assists and two steals in 34 minutes, the most he's played in a game since the Tennessee loss.

Florida will get some minutes from Lee Humphrey, whose shoulder is still on the mend, but he won't be counted on for major minutes until he has drastically improved the range of motion in his left shoulder. Humphrey contributed off the bench against Kentucky with 11 minutes. He didn't score but he did have a couple of assists and a steal.

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