Gameday: No. 2 Florida Gators at Ole Miss – Wilbekin, Henderson primed for early tip-off

By Adam Silverstein
February 22, 2014

Location: Tad Smith Coliseum – Oxford, MS [Capacity: 8,867]
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Doug Gottlieb) [Coverage Map]
SiriusXM: 113/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Andy Kennedy
Record: 24-2 (13-0 SEC) Record: 16-10 (7-6 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -7 | O/U: OFF


» Florida leads Ole Miss 61-43 in the all-time series, holding a 14-7 record under Donovan. Though UF is 21-28 on the road at Mississippi, the Gators are 5-3 under Donovan with back-to-back victories and 11 wins in the last 13 meetings.
» UF is in the midst of setting a number of program records this season. Florida has won a school-record 18-straight games (23 of its last 24), posted a program-best 13-0 start in SEC play and started the season 24-2, matching the school’s all-time mark for best overall start in school history (2006-07).
» The Gators have also won 30 consecutive home games and 15-in-a-row against league opponents in the O’Dome, both school records.
» Florida is 76-9 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding an opponent under 71 points in a game.
» UF is 11-2 this season in single-digit decisions after going 0-6 in such contests during the 2012-13 campaign. Florida is also 1-0 in overtime games.
» The Gators are 8-2 in true road games this season with both losses coming against ranked opponents during the first month of the season. UF lost those contests by a combined seven points.

Read about Saturday’s featured match-up and more on Florida-Ole Miss…


Gators redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith has missed his last 20 shots (21 three-point attempts dating back to late January. Over the last five games, he’s a combined 7-for-31 (.226) from the field despite proving at times earlier in the season that he could be an offensive spark at times for UF. Donovan is not overly concerned with Finney-Smith’s shooting struggles but did provide some context for his issues on Friday.

“The biggest thing with him is – when you get in that rut and where the ball isn’t going in the basket – you’re desperate to make a shot. He has to get himself lost in the game and just go be aggressive and make sure he’s taking good shots,” Donovan explained.

“He’s a very unselfish guy. He’s second or third on our team in assists, first in rebounds. I told him he needs to get his mind off that now. The biggest thing is just being aggressive. If you’re not going to play well, have it be because you’re not looking at yourself as being tentative. I think he’s being tentative. He missed a couple shots and became tentative. He’s really an unselfish player and a really good kid who is about the team about the right things. He gets down on himself when he does miss a couple shots. He’s got to be able to move past that.”


Playing a road game in a different time zone is one thing, being forced to tip off for a nationally-televised noon game that is played at 11 a.m. locally is another. Donovan, however, said he does not expect Florida to be affected by the early tip-off.

“It’s not like we’re playing at 11 [Central] and they’re having to play at seven at night. We’re both playing at 11, so we’ve both got to deal with it,” he said. “The game time is what it is, and we’ve got to go out there and play. There’s no excuses, both teams are dealing with the same thing in terms of the early morning start.”


» Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (#5) was on a roll for the Gators last week, scoring 44 points, registering eight assists, grabbing six boards and not committing a single turnover in two road games at Tennessee and Kentucky. He fell back down to earth a bit on Wednesday, hitting just 4-of-14 field goals but still managing to dish the rock (four assists), take care of the ball (one turnover) and hit his free throws (4-for-4). The current odds-on favorite to win SEC Player of the Year is also Florida’s best on-ball defender, which means he normally draws the toughest matchup. This week, that makes his opponent obvious.

» Calling redshirt senior G Marshall Henderson (#22) “controversial” throughout his career would be an understatement. The trash-talking, rage-inducing chucker has managed to post double-digit scoring games in all but one contest he played this season, averaging 19.4 for the campaign while shooting a career-low 36.9 percent from the field. Henderson can go off like he did against Missouri (10-for-18 from the field, 8-for-15 from three, 29 points) or simply be another guy on the team like he was Tuesday versus Kentucky (5-for-17 from the floor, 5-for-14 from downtown, 18 points). Where he really makes a difference is at the end of games, where Henderson is unfazed by pressure or close games and has a penchant for hitting clutch shots.

Donovan does not believe Wilbekin will be extra juiced-up to shut down Henderson, whose Gator Chomp after an upset victory in the 2013 SEC Tournament not only bothered fans but made Florida’s video reel airing in the practice facility all season long.

“I don’t even know if he’ll be guarding Henderson. I don’t know what we’ll do there,” said Donovan. “They’ve got a lot of different players. We’re going to move around match-ups, I think, for Henderson. You’re not going to take away all of his shots. Andy does a good job of putting him in situations to utilize the thing that he can do well, which obviously is shoot the ball with great range. He’s got great confidence in himself. The things Andy does shows and displays his confidence in Henderson.”

Wilbekin (20) and Henderson (23) are both in their final year of college basketball; the former is actually two years, six months and 17 days younger then the latter.


  1. Daniel M. says:

    Break his nose!:-)

    Go Gators!

  2. Guest says:

    It’s only letting me watch the Louisville game…….

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