Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Tampa's Michael Frazier II steps up for Gators

GAINESVILLE — When Florida lost junior F Will Yeguete to a knee injury two weeks ago, Tampa freshman Michael Frazier II was among the players coach Billy Donovan said he most likely would need to rely on to help fill the void. At the time, Frazier said he was willing to do whatever is necessary, even play some small forward. So far, he's living up to that promise.

And on Monday, he was rewarded for his improved play by being named the SEC freshman of the week. Frazier averaged nine points, two rebounds and an assist in the Gators' victories over Kentucky and at Auburn this past week. Against Auburn, he had a career-high 18 points on six 3-pointers — missing just one 3-point attempt in the game.

"My teammates and my coaches have great confidence in me," Frazier said Monday. "I just came out and tried to make open shots when I had them."

SERIOUS ROAD TEST: Florida will take the court again tonight after rising two spots to No. 5 in this week's Associated Press men's basketball poll. The Gators will play a Missouri team it dismantled 83-52 on Jan. 19, but this time it's at Missouri. And winning at the Mizzou Arena is not an easy thing.

Mizzou has a 15-game homecourt winning streak, the seventh longest active streak in America. Since the 2008-09 season, the Tigers are 81-4 at home and have never lost more than two home games in a single season. They're 29-1 at home under coach Frank Haith.

"They certainly feel more comfortable shooting the ball at home," Donovan said. "I think the biggest numbers are what (they're) shooting from the field is right about 48 percent and what they're shooting from 3, which is about 42 percent. So they've been a team that's extremely explosive offensively at home. … The difference is there's about a 16- or 18-point differential between home and on the road for them in different situations. Now you're dealing with a very, very explosive offensive team that can score in bunches in a lot of different ways, in a lot of different situations."

The Gators are preparing to face Mizzou senior F Laurence Bowers, who missed the first game recovering from a knee strain.

"He's a lot like Murph (Erik Murphy)," UF senior G Mike Rosario said. "A four who can step back and score, as well as the second-leading scorer on their team. That becomes the key to this game, we have to really make some adjustments on the defensive end as far as those guys having him back. It's going to be a tough environment for us. We've been in situations like this all year playing on the road. I feel like this is just another challenge for us."

POWERS' BIG WEEKEND: Florida redshirt sophomore INF Zack Powers was named a Louisville Slugger national player of the week on Monday after he helped lead the No. 13 Gators to a season-opening series baseball win over Duke. The former Armwood standout who was sidelined during the 2012 season went 3-for-6 in three games, two of them UF wins. In Sunday's third game, he joined Tampa's Preston Tucker as the only Gators in school history to hit a pair of grand slams in the same game. Powers hit grand slams in the seventh and eighth innings. His nine RBIs tied for the third-most in school history in a game behind Tucker's 11 against UCF in 2009.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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