#6 Florida has been moving up the rankings, and with a win at Alabama tonight, the Gators could continue on their steady rise.
With Casey Prather returning to the court in a starting role, Florida (15-2, 4-0 SEC) has a solid chance of extending their winning streak to ten games. Alabama (8-9, 2-2 SEC) is 73-62 against Florida in the all-time series, but UF head coach Billy Donovan is 6-0 against current Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, who was an assistant alongside Donovan from 1996 to 2006.
Prather was named to the 2014 U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Oscar Robertson Trophy midseason watch list this afternoon. Although he missed two wins against Arkansas and Georgia due to injury, the forward made what was supposed to be a short appearance in the win at Auburn, where he scored a team-leading 21 points. He is averaging 17.3 points per game in his senior year, up from a 6.0 average last season, and his .636 field goal percentage ranks first in the Southeastern Conference. Getting his offensive production back will be beneficial for Florida.
It could be bad for Alabama, though. The Crimson Tide has lost 14 straight games against top 25 competition and is coming off a loss at Missouri 68-47, where top scorer Trevor Releford scored a season-low 10 points. Perhaps returning home will rejuvenate the Tide, which holds an 8-2 record at Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama will have to accomplish this tall task of beating Florida without redshirt sophomore guard Retin Obasohan, who is second for the Crimson Tide in scoring. He sustained a hip flexor injury in Tuesday’s practice. Junior guard Algie Key will start in his place.
Florida’s probable starters include senior forwards Will Yeguete and Prather, senior center Patric Young, senior guard Scottie Wilbekin and sophomore guard Michael Frazier II. Alabama will likely start junior forward Shannon Hale, junior center Carl Engstrom, senior guard Releford, junior guard Levi Randolph and Key.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Catch the game on TV through ESPN2, on the radio through Country 103.7 The Gator or streaming through WatchESPN (if your cable provider allows it).