Notebook: Prather almost sat on Saturday

Notebook: Prather almost sat on Saturday

Florida forward Casey Prather was in and out of practice on Friday, but coach Billy Donovan always expected his leading scorer on the court against Alabama. That changed when the team got together on Saturday morning, and suddenly, Prather's status was in doubt. Donovan didn't want him on the court unless he could play with confidence that his sprained ankle was back to normal.

The senior looked back to normal on Saturday. He was second on the team with 15 points on 7-11 shooting from the field, adding six rebounds and three assists. Prather also played for 33 minutes after playing 21 minutes in each of the last two games.

Billy Donovan checked on him to make sure he was OK at the first timeout, and Prather said he was good to go for his normal minutes the rest of the game.

"Coach wanted me to play all out and push it," Casey Prather said. "It's more of a mental thing now. I can play through it."

It's not physical pain for Prather anymore. Every once in a while it might flare up, but he has to challenge himself push through the fear that he could reinjure it.

"It becomes a mental issue for him," Donovan said. "He thinks about it. That's how he is because it's got nothing to do with him being a tough kid or playing through pain. It's more to the fact that he doesn't feel confident that he's capable of doing the things he knows he needs to do. When he gets to that place, he gets mentally taken out because he knows he can't do certain things."

His teammates know how bad they need Prather back to normal. He scored in double figures during his first 16 games on the court this season before being held below 10 points in each of the last two games. He returned to double figures on Saturday with 15 points and gave the Gators the slashing element they lacked without him.

"He's getting back to himself," Patric Young said. "He's still babying that ankle a little bit. He's not where he'd like to be, but he's still going to play hard and give what he can. It was good to see him dunk and be explosive. We're going to need that the rest of the way."

BALL MOVEMENT: The Gators recorded a season-high 22 assists on Saturday and showed the ball movement the Florida coaches have been looking for.

"I think we did a good job of attacking the press for scores," Scottie Wilbekin said. "We got a lot of our assists like that. Me and Frazier were hitting some threes, and those were good for assists, too."

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