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Tuesday February 14, 2012Gators need Casey Prather tonight at Alabama

Updated: 6:33pm, February 14

Casey PratherTUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The Gators need seldom-seen swingman Casey Prather to do something -- anything -- tonight against Alabama.

Prather, the 6-foot-6, 212-pounder from Jackson, Tenn., will see significant playing time against the Crimson Tide, after reserves Will Yeguete (concussion) and Mike Rosario (hip pointer) did not make the trip. Prather played 11 minutes off the bench and scored one point in Saturday’s  home loss against Tennessee.

More will be required from arguably the best athlete on the team.

“I’m just trying to help the team any way I can,” Prather, who’s scored 29 points all season, said Monday. “I’m going to have to step it up a little bit more in order for our team to win.”

That step up figures to include playing the power forward spot, which will mean Prather could give away chuncks of inches and pounds. Lucky for him, though, that Crimson Tide star big man JaMychal Green is suspended for the game.

Prather is one of the most popular and hardest-working players on the team, but his minutes have been limited this season by a lack of confidence that rears itself when he’s on the floor.

“If there’s anybody on our team who deserves to play, it’s him,” UF coach Billy Donovan said.

But Prather’s indecisiveness, inconsistency and mistakes have kept him on the bench. That’s why he’s averaging just 1.7 points and two rebounds per game in just 17 appearances. Prather is shooting just 24.3 percent from the floor and has 12 turnovers to seven assists.

“I think I just have to slow down a little bit more and concentrate,” Prather said. “I definitely think I over-think things too much. And I’m always hard on myself. Much more than I should be.”

Here’s what Prather needs to do: Get in the game and just play, and stop looking over his shoulder and worrying about when he’s going to be yanked from the game. It could only take one or two stretches -- and a couple of the type of athletic plays he shows his teammates in practice -- to ratchet up his confidence.

Maybe it’ll come tonight.

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