Young calm at the free throw line

Patric Young

When senior Patric Young came down with the rebound of an Auburn missed free throw, he never expected what was coming next. Auburn center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum intentionally fouled him with 19 seconds remaining in a tie game, sending Young to the free throw line with a chance to give Florida the lead. His tireless repetition in practice helped him toe the line with confidence.

These situations aren't the specialty of Patric Young. The Gators would rather have a guard -- or any role player on the team -- at the line instead of Young. But Florida's senior center made a point weeks ago to be prepared for these situations.

Sitting by himself on the practice court of the Florida basketball facility, Young would mentally prepare for pressure free throws. He'd imagine himself on the free throw line in a tie game with a Final Four bid on the line. The stakes weren't that high on Wednesday, but with a school record 18-game winning streak dangling in front of the Gators, Young made both free throws without hesitation, pushing the Gators to a 71-66 win.

"It's more mental," Patric Young said. "The more repetitions you get, the more natural it feels and you don't have to think about it as much. I just went up there and thought about simple things. I went up there and swished them like it was nothing."

Young remembered his 4-7 performance at Wisconsin from the free throw line, hitting clutch free throws down the stretch. After that, the senior recalled the struggles increasing. In his next 12 games, Young shot 52.1 percent from the free throw line. In his last 12 games, Young has shot 68.3 percent.

"When we played Wisconsin, I knocked down some clutch ones, but it was downhill from there up until the last few games," Young said. "I've really been working on just being simple when I shoot my free throws."

The Gators shot 82.1 percent (23-28) from the free throw line on Wednesday night. It was an issue for the team in the early part of the season, but that has changed in recent games. Florida coach Billy Donovan just wants to make sure his team stays grounded and continues to work at it.

"We've spent time and gotten better there, but we've got to keep getting better there," Donovan said. "All of this stuff is fragile. One minute, you're looked at as the best defensive team in the country. Well we weren't tonight. We were a really poor free throw shooting team. Now we look like we're an unbelievable free throw shooting team."

INJURY REPORT: Young almost sat out of Saturday's game. His knees have been hurting him this week, and it was a game-time decision. He didn't warm up, but after doing some light activity, Young told Donovan that he could play. He finished the game with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Casey Prather continues to play through ankle and knee issues.

Michael Frazier was fine, talking to the media after the game with ice on his left wrist. He fell in the second half and landed with all of his weight on his hands, bending his wrists back.

The big concern for Florida is Kasey Hill. The freshman point guard was held out of Wednesday's game after a groin injury against Kentucky. He hasn't progressed as fast as the team expected, and he is listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against Ole Miss with a strained groin.

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