Quick Turnaround for Donovan, Gators

With the Christmas break staring them in the face the Gator basketball team will try to end this phase of the season on a high note when they host Georgia Southern Monday night in the O'Dome. This should be a lot less stressful than the last time these teams got together.

Last year Florida struggled in every phase of the game and trailed most of the way before escaping Jacksonville with a 52-49 win. Florida trailed by nine at the half and by as many as 11 before pulling it out at the free throw line in the last minute. In fact the Gators lose that game if not for a huge advantage (24-5) in points at the charity stripe. Dan Werner was a star for the Gators that day with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Both numbers remain career highs for the Gator forward. Nick Calathes added 15 points and 11 boards but made just 2-of-14 shots from the field. As a team Florida was an inept 13-for-51 from the field and they stunk up Jacksonville as badly as any paper mill ever did.

The reason this match up should be nothing like the last one is that this is not nearly as good a Georgia Southern team. The Eagles entered last year's game with a 7-1 record, but are only 3-5 thus far this season. One guy to watch is sophomore guard Willie Powers who is from PK Yonge School in Gainesville. Powers scored 17 in last year's game and is Georgia Southern's leading scorer at 14.5. Julian Allen is a 6-4 wing who does a nice job scoring (11.9) and rebounding (6.0). The Eagles have been beaten on the boards by six rebounds a night and have allowed their opponents to shoot 38 percent from beyond the arc.

For the Gators they are coming off strong performances in dominating wins over Gulf coast (94-60) and UCF (89-61). Florida's four freshmen combined for 38 points off the bench against the Knights on Saturday after producing 29 in the Gulf Coast game. Alex Tyus is coming off a career game against UCF with 20 points and 14 rebounds for his first double-double. Last year Tyus averaged 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds, but this year those numbers have increased dramatically (13.9/6.8).

If you don't make it to the O'Dome Bill Koss will join me for the call of the game on Fox Sports Florida Monday night at 7:00.

Gator Tid-Bits

Parsons role -----
Sophomore Chandler Parsons has started five games and come off the bench five times this season. If the first ten games are any indication, he should come off the bench from now on. In his five starts the 6-10 forward is averaging six points a game while shooting just 34 percent from the field and failing to make a single 3-point shot (0-for-12). Coming off the bench has been a different story. As a reserve, Parsons scored nine points, makes 45 percent of his field goals and is 7-for-20 from long range.

Rangy Kadji ----- For the first eight games freshman center Kenny Kadji was your typical lost rookie. He was playing ten minutes a game, averaging 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds. The last two games, however Kadji has really come on strong. The first year big man has averaged 21 minutes, 10.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the wins over Florida Gulf Coast and UCF.

Gator keys ----- There are two areas where Florida's performance has tremendous impact on the result – rebounding and 3-point shooting. In Florida's two losses they are minus-5 rebounding. In their wins Florida wins the battle of the boards by three. In the Gators' losses they struggled from long range (11-for-41, .268), but in their wins Florida shooters are much more accurate (70-for-186, .376).

SEC not impressing ----- The best ratings system for college basketball is the Pomeroy Ratings that can be found at kenpom.com. The ratings as of Sunday morning reinforce the notion that the SEC just isn't very strong this year. The conference has no top 20 teams and just three in the top 50. Tennessee (No. 30), Kentucky (No. 33) and Florida (No. 36) are carrying the banner for the league; they're just not carrying it very high. Vandy (No. 54) is the next highest rated team putting the top four in the same division.

Donovan's 200th ----- The Georgia Southern game will be Billy Donovan's 200th on the Gator bench. His career record in the O'Dome is a rather gaudy 169-30 (.849). I've missed a few of those games, but not many.

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