NEW ORLEANS — The Cougars will get a determined Florida team today in New Orleans Arena.
Last year's NCAA Tournament matchup was a long time ago and this is a whole new ballgame, according to University of Florida players about the Gators' rematch with BYU today in the Sweet 16.
"We pretty much put that game in the past," said center Vernon Macklin.
The No. 2-seeded Gators are 28-7 overall and finished 13-3 in the SEC. This is their 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and it brings a rematch with BYU, who defeated the Gators in overtime in Oklahoma City a year ago in the first round.
"Coach (Billy) Donovan told us it happened last year, and it was a great game," continued Macklin. "Jimmer played well and the rest of the guys played well.
"I think we're just going to try to go out there and play defense because it's a great team. It's not just him, there's four other guys on the floor and they play well around him. We're going to put that game in the past and play Thursday."
Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons agreed.
"We had so many careless turnovers where it led to easy baskets for them," Parsons said of last year's game. "People always underestimate everyone on their team. And I think we've got a good understanding going in there how good they are from playing them last year.
"And it's just not Jimmer Fredette. The other guys are very good players and they understand their role, and they don't get a lot of credit, but we're not just focused on Jimmer, we're focused on their entire team."
Macklin said facing BYU today isn't about revenge for a year ago.
"No, there's no revenge. It's just a regular game for us. And for them, also," he said. "I mean, the game happened last year was a great game. We lost in the first round of the tournament; they went on and won. But it's no revenge, we just want to go out there and play against anybody, and it happens to be BYU and they're ready to play and we're ready to play."
Donovan said his team has a much better feel for the Cougars than a year ago.
"We realize going into the game that we're going to have to play a lot better than we did a year ago, and in the game we played a year ago, we didn't win," he said. "I think coming out of that game we can probably at least have a feel of size, athleticism.
"There's a little bit of familiarity in terms of style of play, and I do think at this time in the NCAA Tournament where a lot of times there's not a lot of familiarity because you're seeing opponents that maybe you see on TV and don't know a lot about."1 comment on this story
GATOR TRACKS: Florida's No. 2 seed is its second-highest sever. ... The Gators are the only NCAA Division I team not to have a player foul out this season. ... Macklin is the only Division I player with more than 1,400 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 125 steals in his career. ... Point guard Erving Walker is shooting .625 (10-of-16) from the field and .636 (7-of-11) from 3-point range in NCAA Tournament action. He also makes 80 percent of his free throws and was the catalyst in the Gators' win over Texas last week. ... This is the fourth meeting of Florida and BYU. Florida has an all-time 6-5 record against MWC teams, but is 0-3 against BYU.