The Gators dropped a 79-63 game to Tennessee Saturday night thanks in large part to foul trouble for Nick Calathes and poor play from Dan Werner and Walter Hodge. Calathes played just nine minutes in the first half when the Gators fell behind by 17. Werner scored just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting, while Hodge made just 1-of-5 shots and had as many points (4) as turnovers.
Florida coach Billy Donovan said the Gators need more from the most experienced players on the team.
"I don't think there's any question that Walter being a senior going on the road and playing and going forward that we're going to need him. Not so much scoring-wise, but playing well. And then I think Dan's the same thing. Dan is a kind of catalyst for our team and a facilitator of our offense. We need him."
Donavan said he wished he had a magic formula for making it happen.
"If I could answer how to do it, it would be a lot easier. What you do is talk to them about it, show it to them and explain it to them. (I need to) get them to understand that their performance, not point-wise but just their performance out there playing is important to our team. I think that's we're looking for out of those guys is consistent performances. Last year at this time we weren't consistent enough workers. I think we are working hard enough now. Now there's got to be a carry over where we can rely on them to give us something."
South Carolina comes to Gainesville with a 16-4 overall and is tied for the lead in the SEC East at 5-2. The Gamecocks have won three straight games since their last second win over the Gators; beating Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Carolina has arguably the best back court in the SEC with Devan Downey (19.8) and Zam Fredrick (16.0). The tandem combined for 35 points in the first meeting, but Florida did a good job on them, forcing them to shoot just 10-for-32. The thing that really killed the Gators in the first meeting was turning it over 18 times and missing six free throws including twice failing on the front end of one-and-on opportunities. Donovan offered up his thoughts on South Carolina.
"They're a team right now that's playing very good basketball. They've won several (4) games in a row. They are getting great play from Downey and Fredrick and I think those guys were consistent performers last year. I also think that their front court has steadily improved as the season has gone on. They've gotten a lot of great production from those guys around the basket scoring and rebounding. Obviously we had a hard fought game in Columbia that didn't end the way we would like it to."