Coaches love situations that get their teams ready for the NCAA tournament. That being the case, Florida coach Billy Donovan must love what his team is going through this week.
On Thursday night, the Gators (13-2) drilled Texas A&M, 68-47, before jumping on a plane back home. Today at 2 p.m., Missouri (13-3) visits the soldout O'Connell Center with ESPN covering the game. SEC coaches agreed to have short breaks between games like this one to accommodate the TV contract a few years ago.
"We have a lot of veteran guys who are used to it,'' center Patric Young said of the short break between games — much like the NCAA tourney. "We'll take care of our bodies and make sure we get our rest. When the ball is tipped, we'll be ready. There won't be any excuses.''
While it's all work and no play this week, Florida is 4-0 in Thursday-Saturday weeks since the new contract was agreed upon a couple of years ago.
The Gators held Aggies guard Elston Turner to four points after he scored 40 in his previous game at Kentucky. Scottie Wilbekin, who spent much of the game defending Turner, has another rough assignment today in Missouri guard Phil Pressey (12.9 points, 7.3 assists).
Fellow guards Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton will have their hands full with a talented backcourt that also includes Jabari Brown (13.9 points).
"(Pressey is) a very, very smart point guard, especially on the middle pick-and-rolls and wing pick-and-rolls. … They want to play up-tempo,'' Rosario said. "So we have to bring this same mindset to the defensive end.''
Pressey has 59 assists in his last six games. He had a school- and SEC-record 19 assists against UCLA in late December, the most assists in a Division I game dating to 2008.
Florida has not given up more than 20 points in the first half of an SEC game while going 3-0. Missouri is 2-1 in league play, and the Tigers are No. 17 in the AP poll, while Florida is 10th.
"They're going to come in fired up,'' Young said. "They believe they have a chance to win the conference, just like we believe we have a chance to win the conference.''
Both clubs have injury issues. The banged-up Gators should be without forward Casey Prather (ankle sprain), while Tigers forward Laurence Bowers has been ruled out with a knee injury.