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Thursday, March 30, 2023

It's time for the UF women's basketball team to show just what a difference its added height will make this season.

When the Gators host Xavier tonight at 5:30, post play may determine who takes home the victory.

The Musketeers, defending Atlantic Ten Conference champions, have what UF coach Amanda Butler says may be Bthe best post tandem in the country.C

She?s referring to freshman center Ta?Shia Phillips and sophomore forward Amber Harris.

The 6-foot-6 Phillips was the No. 2 overall recruit and the highest-rated post player in her class, according to Blue Star Basketball.

Harris, who stands at 6 foot 5, averaged 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a freshman and was one of 30 returning players nationwide to be named to the Wooden Award preseason watch list. After just one season at Xavier, she already holds the school?s career blocks record.

BShe?s a phenomenal player, and the more we can limit her touches, the better off we?re going to be,C Butler said. BShe makes something special happen every time she gets her hands on the ball.C

Most of the responsibility for stopping the pair will fall on the shoulders of UF juniors Marshae Dotson and Aneika Henry.

Despite the height difference, the 5-foot-11 Dotson is not intimidated.

BI think we match up with them perfectly fine,C she said. BI?m not scared to play them.C

Henry, impressive in the team?s exhibition against a height-challenged Warner Southern, will now face a defender her own size.

When Henry?s playing defense, she knows she can?t leap at every shot or fake.

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BI have a tendency of leaving my feet for every block shot,C Henry said. BI?m working on standing straight up and not jumping after everything, trying to block it.C

The Gators opened last season against Xavier in Cincinnati.

Harris, in her collegiate debut, had 15 points and eight rebounds in the Musketeers? 86-70 victory.

Now Butler looks to get a win in her first game at UF, having defeated Xavier all three times while she coached at North Carolina-Charlotte.

BThey beat [the Gators] convincingly last year, so we?re going to have our hands full,C Butler said. BBut we?re also excited for the opportunity to redeem ourselves.C

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