Found March 02, 2013 on Fox Sports Florida:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Early in the game as he sat on the bench waiting for his first chance to get on the floor, there was something evident to Casey Prather. Prather said he turned to fellow reserve Will Yeguete and the two discussed how their teammates needed an energy boost. And no, they were not talking about a Red Bull. "We looked a little dead offensively and defensively,'' Prather said. While Yeguete was clearly not 100 percent in his first game in nearly a month due to a knee injury, Gators coach Billy Donovan sensed Prather could make a difference in Saturday's SEC showdown with Alabama. Donovan got a glimpse of what was to come on Prather's only bucket of the first half when the junior forward missed a shot from the left side of the basket, grabbed the offensive rebound on the other side of the hoop, and then went up over a pair of Alabama defenders to score. Donovan had already seen enough to know the Gators could be in trouble. "Scottie Wilbekin wasn't himself, I didn't think Kenny Boynton was himself, Patric Young wasn't himself, Murph (Erik Murphy) looked a step slow,'' Donovan said. "It was just one of those games." Thankfully for the Gators, Prather was not only himself but a better version than usual, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds in Florida's 64-52 win over the Crimson Tide. He made a difference in the second half when Alabama used a 14-4 run to take a 45-37 lead, the biggest deficit the Gators have faced all season at the O'Connell Center. As the tide turned in the game, Prather was in the middle of several key plays, replacing guard Mike Rosario for much of the second half. First, he drove to the basket and tossed a lob to Young that woke up the crowd and snapped a 6-0 Alabama run to trim the lead to 45-39 with 11:03 left. "I was just trying to get into the lane and I saw my big man rolling and their big man was kind of staying with me kind of hesitant what to do and I just threw it up to the rim,'' Prather said. On Florida's next score, it was Prather taking a dump pass from Boynton and laying it in to trim Alabama's lead to 45-41. Following a bucket by Alabama's Nick Jacobs to put the Crimson Tide up by six again, Prather was fouled and hit a pair of free throws. On Alabama's next possession, Prather grabbed a rebound off Trevor Releford's missed 3-pointer that led to a three-point play from Wilbekin. Suddenly, it was a one-point game (47-46 Alabama). You might have guessed by now that Prather was involved when the Gators grabbed the lead for good. Prather, who entered the game shooting 55 percent (11 of 20) from the free-throw line, made two more free throws with 7:48 remaining to give Florida a 48-47 advantage. The Gators never trailed again, using a 19-2 run to take a 56-47 lead when Young hit a pair of free throws with 3:18 remaining. If Donovan handed out game balls at the end of every game, Prather would have certainly received one Saturday. "Casey, thank God, gave us good minutes," Donovan said. "If he didn't play well, we probably would have had a hard time winning the game. He was the only guy that had a level of energy." Said Alabama coach Anthony Grant: "They have a lot of very good pieces and he's one of them." Prather's performance continued a recent trend for the 6-foot-8, athletic player from Jackson, Tenn. Prior to this season, Prather's most memorable game came in the NCAA Tournament last March when he scored a career-high 14 points in a win over Virginia, adding a highlight-reel worthy dunk for good measure. However, with Yeguete slowed, Prather has now scored in double figures in four of the last seven games. He is averaging 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds, easily career highs for one of Florida's key reserves. "He struggled his first two years, a lot of thoughts going through his head,'' Young said. "He felt a lot of pressure, everyone wants to play everyone wants to perform well. This year he has just been doing his job." Prather said last year's experience of filling in for an injured Yeguete in the postseason was the catalyst for his breakthrough. The game is now coming more naturally. "It gave me a chance to go out there and play with my team and feel comfortable,'' Prather said. "It was definitely important just to get back into rhythm. I'm very confident in my game. I feel like I could have done that last year, too, just not every time. It's just happening to come to me right now." There were questions about how effective Prather would be Saturday considering he left Tuesday's loss at Tennessee with about three minutes remaining with blood dripping off a cut above his left eye. Prather collided with Rosario going for a loose ball and took the worst of it. He missed eight games earlier this season, first to a concussion suffered in the preseason and then a high-ankle sprain. In the end, there was nothing to worry about. Prather's head and game were fine Saturday. "I was so relieved because I've been getting hit in the head every day and I feel like every time I get in the head that I'm just hoping it's not a concussion,'' he said. "I'm just glad it's not anything more serious." So was Donovan. The Gators needed Prather's energy boost Saturday more than ever. "I thought Casey, for whatever really, was really focused and locked in,'' Donovan said.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

No. 8 Florida rallies past Alabama

Casey Prather had 10 points and nine rebounds, most of them in the second half, and No. 8 Florida rallied from an eight-point deficit to beat Alabama 64-52 Saturday. The Gators used a 15-0 run late in the second half - fueled by Prather - to pull away from the Crimson Tide and remain unbeaten at home. Erik Murphy led Florida (23-5, 13-3 Southeastern Conference) with 15 points....

Yeguete’s going to take it in stride

He’s missed six full games plus all but one minute of a seventh and he is very happy to get back on the court. Still, Florida junior forward Will Yeguete knows he can’t rush things. He has to take playing time as it comes and feels comfortable and the worst thing he can do is rush back to the court and have a setback because of it.

Guess The Ranking: After A 1-1 Week, Where Will The Florida Gators End Up In The Polls?

With Saturday’s 64-52 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Florida Gators finished their second consecutive 1-1 week. The Gators entered the previous 1-1 week at No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. One win and one loss later and Florida fell to No. 8 and No. 6. This week was similar–unranked loss, followed by an unranked win. Will the Gators suffer...

Gators rally back, beat Alabama at home

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Casey Prather had 10 points and nine rebounds, most of them in the second half, and No. 8 Florida rallied from an eight-point deficit to beat Alabama 64-52 Saturday. The Gators used a 15-0 run late in the second half -- fueled by Prather -- to pull away from the Crimson Tide and remain unbeaten at home. Erik Murphy led Florida (23-5, 13-3 Southeastern...

Gators win to take series from Miami

Base runners weren’t the issue for Florida during its six-game losing streak. The Gators could get men on base, but once that happened, the offense started to slow. It was a major talking point for Kevin O’Sullivan after Florida lost the opener to Miami on Friday. The Gators put together a big inning for the second day in a row Sunday, using it to win 6-3 over the Hurricanes...

Rapid Recap: Gators top Tide

The Gators had Will Yeguete and Michael Frazier II back Saturday when they welcomed Alabama, but the game revealed those guys are still on the journey to thriving on the court. Florida took the victory 64-52 over the Crimson Tide, but they struggled to make things happen for much of the game.

Gators drop series opener to Miami

The Gators know the big hit is coming. They just don’t know when. In a season that has already produced multiple different struggles for Florida over the first 10 games, stranding runners decided Friday night’s series opener with Miami. The Gators had 15 base runners and left nine runners on base while scoring just two runs, as the Hurricanes took the series opener 3-2 at McKethan Stadium.

No. 8 Florida 64, Alabama 52

Alabama had an eight-point lead and all the momentum at No. 8 Florida. Then the Crimson Tide went cold, a lengthy icy stretch that changed the game and possibly the top seeds in the Southeastern Conference tournament. Casey Prather had 10 points and nine rebounds, most of them in the second half, and the Gators rallied from the second-half deficit to beat Alabama 64-52 on Saturday...

Alabama gives up lead, loses at No. 8 Florida

Alabama had an eight-point lead and all the momentum at No. 8 Florida. Then the Crimson Tide went cold, a lengthy icy stretch that changed the game and possibly the top seeds in the Southeastern Conference tournament. Casey Prather had 10 points and nine rebounds, most of them in the second half, and the Gators rallied from the second-half deficit to beat Alabama 64-52 on Saturday...

Albert Huggins One of the Best

South Carolina has always produced a high quality of high school football players over the years and the Florida Gators and the rest of the college football world have taken notice. The Gators have set their sights on a 2015 defensive end prospect from Orangeburg (SC) Orangeburg Wilkinson Senior High School.

Second Scouting Report: Auburn

Given the landscape of SEC basketball in 2013, only the Florida Gators – with their normal eight-man rotation back in action – can be viewed as a particularly dependable team within the conference. If Vanderbilt can get a first-round bye in the 2013 SEC Tournament, it could definitely make some noise. That goal - an opening-round bye - is now more attainable than ever before.

Florida benefits from close game

The Gators have heard plenty about their struggles to close games this season. It was evident as they answered questions on Saturday about finally securing a win. The 12-point win might not have seemed like a close win that Florida needed, but there’s no doubt that it was. The Gators took Alabama’s best shot early in the second half but still managed to come back and close out the game.

Murphy putting Tennessee behind him

The record against the Tennessee Vols over the last several years has been abysmal for the Florida basketball team. A loss on Tuesday didn’t help anything and created a tighter race for the finish to be the top team in the SEC. The Gators are just now starting to get healthy and ready to put that game behind them.
College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.