Gators hope near-upset loss to Auburn is wake-up call
Florida's near-upset to unranked Auburn Wednesday night underscored what Florida coach Billy Donovan has been preaching since the Gators began their rise in the Top 10 of the polls: Florida has to be prepared to take everybody's best shot.
"One of the things I talk to our guys about is that with our rankings ((No. 2) and being undefeated in the league (13-0), we get everyone's best shot," Donovan said. "But I like to look at it the other way: are we going to give our best shot?"
Florida fought back from its largest deficit of the season (down eight at halftime) to earn a 71-66 win over unranked Auburn Wednesday night.
Florida didn't secure the win until the final 17 seconds of the game, and some players acknowledged they may not have come out with the proper intensity because of Auburn's record (4-8 entering the game).
"That's not good, we don't need to be doing that (taking opponents lightly) against any team," senior guard Scottie Wilbekin said. "We've just got to stay focused."
Donovan said the team's huge road wins over Tennessee and Kentucky last week may have emotionally drained the Gators, something he was concerned about entering the Auburn game.
Among his biggest concerns right now is his team's mental state of mind and the way they are playing at home.
"I think in a certain way there's been comparisons made of the teams in '06 and '07, and certainly those guys didn't have great moments all the time," Donovan said. "But the thing I tried to get across to them and get them to understand is they are in unchartered territory, these guys are, our players are. And I've got to find a way to do a better job in terms of mentally getting them to play close to their potential. Because to me, in my opinion, we have not played well at home. I don't know if it's complacency, we're relaxed, we're at home, everything's going to be okay. I don't know. I can't put my finger on it. But outside of the Tennessee game, we came back home and I didn't think we played great against Missouri. We didn't play great against Alabama - both those games we had deficits in the second half. And they are good teams, I'm not taking anything away from them. But we've got to understand, and I do think it's hard from this standpoint: to get to that emotional level every single time is what I think makes teams really, really special. We get to a high enough level to win the game, but we need to play better."