Florida-Wisconsin Preview

The Associated Press

Winning at Wisconsin is hard enough as it is.

Florida coach Billy Donovan further reinforced that as his No. 11 Gators prepared for Tuesday night's visit to Madison to face the 20th-ranked Badgers.

"If we play like we did Friday, we have no shot," Donovan told the school's official website.

The Gators played short-handed and let North Florida hang around until the end in a 77-69 season-opening win Friday. Senior forward Casey Prather scored a career-high 28 points on 10 of 15 shooting after averaging 6.2 points and starting twice as a junior.

"It's my last year, so I'm just trying to be as aggressive as I can," Prather said.

Michael Frazier had 19 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench as he continues to recover from mononucleosis. He figures to start in the backcourt against Wisconsin with highly regarded freshman point guard Kasey Hill.

But Donovan, who doesn't seem to agree with his team's position in the national polls, was more concerned with his team defense. The Ospreys sunk nine of their last 15 3-point attempts and outrebounded the Gators 37-35, including 13-8 on the offensive glass.

"We are light years away from even being a remotely good defensive team right now and light years away from even being a ranked team," Donovan said.

They'll again be short-handed against the Badgers (1-0). Florida will be without senior guard Scottie Wilbekin, sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith and junior center Damontre Harris. The three remain suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.

Wilbekin, known for his defense, started 29 games a season ago and averaged 9.1 points.

The Badgers are 90-7 at the Kohl Center in non-conference games under coach Bo Ryan. They're 30-11 at home against Top 25 teams since he took over in 2001-02, though they've lost three of their last four there against ranked non-conference opponents.

They're coming off an 87-75 win over St. John's on Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D. Wisconsin connected on 11 of 23 3-point attempts and held the Red Storm to 23 first-half points.

"That's kind of our game this year - all five guys on the floor can shoot," junior guard Josh Gasser said. "We were really taking advantage of that especially early and especially when the game was getting tight."

Five Wisconsin players scored in double figures, including Gasser, who returned with a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.

"Just gusty, tough - that's Josh,'' Ryan said. ''Thirty-some games last year where he wasn't on the floor where we could have used that, that energy, that moxie. He might not do that every night, but he certainly showed why he works so hard in the offseason and is just so anxious to get back on the court and be himself."

Wisconsin could have used Gasser's presence last Nov. 14 when it faced the No. 10 Gators in Gainesville. The 22nd-ranked Badgers allowed Florida to shoot 61.9 percent - the second-worst percentage they've allowed in the Ryan era - and were outrebounded 40-21 in a 74-56 loss.

The Badgers went on to win seven games against teams in the top 15, tied for the most in the country with Indiana.

Wisconsin has won 15 consecutive home openers, though this is the first time it will open against a Top 25 team in Madison since beating No. 4 Kansas in 1968.

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