Southern U.-Florida Preview
While two teammates remain suspended, Dorian Finney-Smith has another chance to give Florida a boost off the bench.
The sophomore transfer will try to build on a gutsy debut effort for the 16th-ranked Gators on Monday night against Southern University.
Finney-Smith, senior guard Scottie Wilbekin and junior center Damontre Harris were suspended at the start of this season for violating team rules, but Finney-Smith was given the opportunity to return Saturday against Arkansas-Little Rock.
Despite still dealing with a virus that caused him to lose 10 pounds, the forward had 17 points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes of an 86-56 win. The game was his first since a 2012 ACC tournament loss to Duke on March 9, 2012, while with Virginia Tech.
"I really didn't know what to expect," coach Billy Donovan said. "He hadn't picked up a ball since Monday. He really moved the basketball and made the extra pass. Because he can shoot it, put it on the floor and pass, he opens up a lot of things for our guys."
Casey Prather, who shot 10 of 11 for the game, scored eight of his 27 points during a 17-4 run in the second half that helped Florida (2-1) pull away after entering halftime tied with the Trojans. Prather, averaging 22.3 points, might have to continue to provide some high scoring with Wilbekin and Harris suspended indefinitely.
"I'm not going to just take these guys and just use them to win games," Donovan told the school's website. "There are no shortcuts."
Florida fell five spots in this week's Top 25 after losing 59-53 at then-No. 20 Wisconsin on Tuesday.
It will try to keep heading in the right direction against Southern, which was competitive in its only matchup with a ranked opponent this season.
The Jaguars lost 63-56 at then-No. 17 Marquette on Nov. 8 despite allowing the Golden Eagles to shoot a school-record 53 free throws.
Southern started the season 0-3 but dropped those games by a combined 16 points before winning 87-78 at North Florida on Saturday. Calvin Godfrey led the way with a career-high 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks while YonDarius Johnson had 21 points off the bench.
That helped the Jaguars (1-3) overcome leading scorer Malcolm Miller's foul trouble. The Southwestern Athletic Conference's preseason player of the year, averaging a team-best 14.0 points, was held to four Saturday.
Southern was routed 83-27 in its only meeting with Florida on Nov. 28, 2006. The 27 points are the fewest Florida has allowed in a game since the NCAA introduced the shot clock in 1985-86.