GAINESVILLE -- Dig in.
Florida, winners of a school-record 23 straight games, finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, a first in school history.
After becoming the first team ever in the Southeastern Conference to go 18-0 in league play, Billy Donovan gave his players a well-deserved two days off (Sunday, Monday) before the team resumes practice Tuesday and travels to Atlanta for the SEC tournament Thursday.
The Gators (29-2) will open play Friday at 1 p.m. against the winner of Missouri (21-10) and Texas A&M (17-14).
Florida partied hard following its throttling of No. 25 Kentucky on Saturday, celebrating Senior Day and UF's historic victory with a postgame net-cutting ceremony.
Donovan, who said the Gators will focus on themselves this week and not a what-if opponent, is hopeful his players can put their triumphs in the past.
"The biggest area for us is to get emotionally, mentally and psychologically past what happened on Saturday," he explained. "We’ve got to get past that. That starts this afternoon, getting past that and moving on and focusing on the next thing in front of us.”
BILLY SAY WHAT?
Unlike John Calipari or Roy Williams, Florida's coach has normally remained diplomatic when discussing conference tournaments.
While Donovan acknowledged he "likes playing the conference tournament" and "thinks it gets you ready for postseason play," he quickly addressed his major issue with the event's annual setup.
"The one thing the NCAA has to look at is any conference that's playing their conference tournament and it goes into Sunday, those teams, in my opinion, should not play in the NCAA tournament until Friday," Donovan said bluntly.
"You have to go up there and you have to have a mandatory opening practice on a Wednesday if you're playing Thursday, that's not right for those kind of teams, where you've got a team that all of sudden does a heck of a job, they get all the way to Sunday, they win a championship, maybe they miss Selection Sunday, they've got to travel back, they get back on campus on Sunday, they've got to try to recuperate after playing three straight games and they're on a plane Tuesday night going into a place, Wednesday practice, Thursday playing … that's a lot in my opinion. … And I think our league should look at it, too. Are we better off backing up our conference tournament and ending it on Saturday? Just end it on Saturday and give everybody Sunday off and figure out who's in the tournament and who's not and move from there."
Florida, a lock for a No. 1 seed, could face Donovan's exact scenario should the Gators reach Sunday's SEC Championship (3:15 p.m.).
UF is nearly assured of opening the NCAA Tournament in Orlando, with the games slated for Thursday and Saturday. According to stat guru Ken Pomeroy, Florida is nearly a coin-flip (49.2 percent) to win the tournament.
FRAZIER II HONORED
Florida's 6-foot-4 sophomore guard drained a conference-record 11 3-pointers against South Carolina last Tuesday, finishing with 37 points. Frazier II, averaging 12.9 points per game this season, added nine points on three treys in Florida's beatdown of Kentucky on Saturday afternoon.
Casey Prather is Florida's leading scorer, averaging 14.6 points per game and shooting 62.5 percent from the field.
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