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The Curious Case of DFS

Pictures.zimbo.com(Courtesy pictures.zimbo.com)

GAINESVILLE -- First things first...

FACT: No. 2 Florida would not have beaten then-No. 13 Kansas, No. 15 Memphis or a juiced Arkansas team without the contributions of Dorian Finney-Smith.

FICTION: Finney-Smith is the college reincarnate of Detroit's Josh Smith. 

He's more maddening. 

DFS has absolutely murdered UF's (otherwise) efficient field goal percentage during conference play.

His mind-numbing shooting slump extends from the 3-point line to the rim, as the redshirt sophomore is shooting a disastrous 35 percent (37-for-105) from the field in 13 conference games.

DFS is also an are-you-kidding-me 11-for-47 from downtown in SEC play. The underclassman has obviously never heard of the red light district. 

FACT: Finney-Smith was touted as a versatile, playmaking point-forward with freakish rebounding skills and a player some said to be the most dominant Gator in practices over the summer.

FICTION: DSF has a nasty shot-fake. 

What's it worth if you can't finish?

FACT OR FICTION: Florida can win the national title without improved play from its enigmatic forward?

TBD. 

Finney-Smith, UF's 6-foot-8 super sub, is a tantalizing talent.

He may well win the SEC's Sixth Man of the Year Award this season, but too often -- especially over the last month-plus -- DFS has teased solid performances with way too many eye-gouging nights. 

Ostensibly, Finney-Smith helps Florida space the floor and is an assertive offensive playmaker, but the redshirt sophomore hasn't made a trey in February (0-for-18) and is 0-for-21 since his last made 3-pointer.

Finney-Smith has also showcased as an inconsistent facilitator and finisher -- two of his most ballyhooed attributes at the start of 2013-14 -- currently touting the same number assists (46) as turnovers (46) this season. 

Following consecutive solid performances against Arkansas and Georgia (22 and 14 points, respectively), Finney-Smith has tallied just a single game in double-digits (11 points, Texas A&M) over UF's last 10 victories.  

Yet despite all the ups-and-downs: Finney-Smith stands as Florida's biggest X-factor heading into March Madness. 

WIth Chris Walker predictably still in the diaper stage of his career and Will Yeguete practically useless on the offensive end, the Gators need DFS to emerge -- on a nightly basis -- as the frontcourt force that dominated minutes in the wins over Kansas, Memphis and even Tennessee (at home). 

Earlier this season, Billy Donovan routinely ran iso-plays for Finney-Smith, now he's routinely yanking the forward for shody shot selection. 

On the surface, a stat line of 9.1 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 1.9 assists per game is superb for a role player, but DFS is more than that. He is a glorified starter (see: minutes played, closing out games) and an integral player in UF's motion offense and 1-3-1 defense.

I don't know if the Gators can win a title if Finney-Smith can't rediscover his offensive potential, and it's a question worth pondering with just five games until the madness begins.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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