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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

After her team played its 27th game of the season on Sunday, UF coach Amanda Butler sensed that fatigue might have begun to affect the Gators.

That doesn't mean it's OK with her.

"Everybody in the country is going through those things," Butler said. "Everyone is tired. Everyone's legs hurt. Everybody's team experiences the flu bug. … We just have to be mentally tough enough to understand those are things that are going to happen. It has got to matter more to beat the next opponent."

Sunday saw the Gators (16-11, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) lose yet another game they were projected to win. The loss came against a South Carolina team that hadn't won a road conference game all year until that point. On Feb. 10, UF lost at Mississippi State 83-71 in another upset.

At this point in the season, a team must learn how to fight through obstacles in order to pick up key victories.

"Your legs are tired. Your stomach hurts. You may have turned your ankle last weekend, and it's still a little bit sore," Butler said. "It's just that time of year where you have all these great things in your grasp.

"You've got to suck it up and give your best, because right now is the moment that you have to seize. That's what we've got to kind of realize as a program. The position that we're in and we have been in the last couple weeks and being able to put those things aside and focus on winning the game."

TOURNEY WATCH: The Gators came close to losing all hope of an NCAA bid with its home loss to the Gamecocks.

UF dropped to eighth in the SEC standings with Mississippi moving up to seventh. That makes Sunday's regular-season finale against the Rebels in Oxford key to SEC Tournament seeding.

Some analysts still have the Gators clinging to a sliver of optimism when it comes to Selection Monday, with two regular-season games plus the SEC Tournament remaining.

Even before Sunday's loss, CollegeRPI.com founder Jerry Palm left UF in his short list of teams just outside the projected tournament field. The defeat moved the team's RPI from 38 to 45.

Remarkably, ESPN.com analyst Charlie Creme still has the Gators in his "last four out" category - the same place he had them in his Feb. 11 projection. UF has gone 1-2 since then.

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