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Vanderbilt-Florida Preview

AP - Sports

The inequity of certain teams being forced to play Thursday and Saturday has rankled some SEC coaches.

None of them probably have a bigger complaint than Florida's Billy Donovan.

Donovan's team will start a crucial set of back-to-back games with the coach having one day to get his 12th-ranked Gators prepared to host No. 25 Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Florida (18-4, 6-1) won 74-66 over South Carolina on Thursday, extending its overall win streak to six games and its run at home to 18. Vanderbilt (16-6, 5-2), meanwhile, has not played since an 82-74 loss at Arkansas on Tuesday.

The short turnaround is a difficult one for Donovan, whose team will go on the road to face No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday.

"I think when you're talking about clearly playing right now coming up what people would consider the two best teams in the league in Vanderbilt and Kentucky and you having to do it after a Thursday game with a one-day prep, where they've obviously had some time to get ready to play the game playing on Tuesday, we've got a lot to get ready to play them and it's a 1 o'clock tip," Donovan said.

"So that becomes challenging and then you've got to come back Sunday and get prepared for Kentucky to leave on Monday."

Donovan can take solace in the fact that his team beat Vanderbilt three times last season, including 77-66 in the conference tournament semifinals. John Jenkins averaged 18.0 points for Vanderbilt while Florida's Kenny Boynton averaged 18.7.

Jenkins leads the SEC with 19.9 points per game with Boynton second at 17.5. Commodores forward Jeffery Taylor is third at 17.4.

"As far as the guards are concerned, we'll probably see the same stuff," Jenkins said. "They'll probably guard us the same way."

Florida continues to take excellent care of the ball, averaging 10.9 turnovers. The Gators' 13 miscues Thursday were a bit uncharacteristic after they totaled 11 over their previous two contests.

"I think anytime your turnovers are anywhere from 10 to 14, I think you've done a good job," Donovan said.

These teams are evenly matched offensively. Florida ranks first in the SEC with 80.4 points per game and second in field-goal percentage at 47.6, while Vanderbilt is third in both categories at 74.6 and 46.9.

The Gators are the conference's best on 3-pointers at 40.0 percent, with Vanderbilt close behind at 39.8.

"They have four guys that are prolific 3-point shooters that they start and that's a big challenge," Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said.

Florida star freshman Bradley Beal is one of those players at 33.9 percent from beyond the arc. Beal is shooting 52.0 percent and averaging 14.5 points during this win streak.

"Beal's a really, really fine player and a really talented offensive player in every way," Stallings said.

The Gators are eager to test themselves against some top-notch competition. They are 2-2 versus ranked teams, falling to Ohio State and Syracuse.

"I think we're ready," Boynton said. "We're not a young team overall. I think Pat (Young), Will (Yeguete), all the sophomores, they've been through this process. We don't have any excuses."

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