Florida at Tennessee game preview
FEB 26, 2013 8:52a ET
Game time: 9 p.m. ET
Florida is dealing with another injury, but the team is still closing in on an SEC title.
The eighth-ranked Gators will be missing Michael Frazier II on Tuesday night in Knoxville, where they'll try to win for just the second time in eight trips while ending Tennessee's five-game winning streak.
Florida (22-4, 12-2) has been without Will Yeguete for five games while the junior forward recovers from surgery on his right knee.
Now, the Gators will have to get by without Frazier, who suffered a concussion in Saturday's 71-54 victory over Arkansas. The good news is, both could return in time for this weekend's meeting with Alabama, which along with Kentucky trails Florida by two games.
"It's been kind of some strange stuff that's happened," coach Billy Donovan said Monday. "The one thing that's been good is that our guys have responded. That's been the one positive. ... We've just gotten, obviously this year, a large rash of it. It's been a blessing that it hasn't been a situation where guys, their season has been over."
The absence of Yeguete and Frazier will leave Donovan two short in his preferred eight-man rotation, meaning one of the little-used freshman trio of Braxton Ogbueze, DeVon Walker or Dillon Graham will play an expanded role against the Volunteers (16-10, 8-6) as Florida looks to clinch a first-round bye in the SEC tournament.
"We're not going to be able to get through this game with just six guys," Donovan said. "It'll be totally impossible, especially if you get some foul trouble. ... We've got to change, there's no question."
Donovan would certainly like to see the Gators change their luck in Knoxville. Florida has dropped six of its last seven visits to Thompson-Boling Arena, including a 67-56 defeat Jan. 7, 2012.
The Gators were swept in the season series a month later, falling 75-70 at home.
Kenny Boynton hasn't had much fun in Knoxville, shooting 31.4 percent in three visits. Boynton enters this one making 34.6 percent from the floor - 26.1 percent from long range - over the last seven games.
As Boynton has struggled, Mike Rosario has picked up the slack by averaging 16.2 points on 50.8 percent shooting over his last five. The Rutgers transfer played only two minutes in Florida's trip to Tennessee last season.
The Gators (plus-6.0) and Volunteers (plus-5.5) have two of the SEC's top three rebounding margins, and in Florida's case Patric Young has been a big reason for that disparity. He had 14 points and seven rebounds Saturday after totaling four and six over the previous two games.
"If he gives that kind of effort and plays like that all the time he's going to have 10 rebounds, he's going to have 12, 14 points," Donovan said.
As dominant as Florida has looked at times, there's no SEC team currently hotter than Tennessee. Extending their streak certainly wasn't easy, though, as the visiting Volunteers needed four overtimes on Saturday to outlast Texas A&M 93-85.
"We just found a way to get stops and make big plays," coach Cuonzo Martin said. "I didn't see any signs of fatigue or giving up in our guys."
Trae Golden came up big against the Aggies, scoring a career-high 32 points in 56 minutes. The junior guard is averaging 25.3 points while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor - and getting to the free-throw line 32 times - over the past three games.
He led the Vols with 17 points and seven assists in the most recent meeting with Florida.
Forward Jarnell Stokes has been Tennessee's best weapon on the boards, averaging 16.5 points and 11.0 rebounds over the past eight games after getting 20 and 16 Saturday.
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