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Friday, August 19, 2022
Lonnika Thompson blocks a shot during the Gators' 71-51 win against Florida A&M University on Jan. 2 at the O'Connell Center. (Jeremiah Stanley / Alligator)
Lonnika Thompson blocks a shot during the Gators' 71-51 win against Florida A&M University on Jan. 2 at the O'Connell Center. (Jeremiah Stanley / Alligator)

The Southeastern Conference has started to focus on UF forward Marshae Dotson.

Dotson may have wished to stay under the radar, but that's hard to do when you're ranked sixth in the conference for points and rebounds.

Now the junior sees double- and triple-teams each game, and it has taken its toll on her stats.

After exploding against LSU's premier frontcourt for 20 points and 14 rebounds, Dotson has seen a dip in production. She has not scored more than 11 points in the four contests since and has not hit double-digits in rebounds, either.

It's not like Dotson is taking shots and missing them - she has made 14 of 26 shots, good for 53.8 percent. Twenty-six shots in four games is not as many as the Gators (16-10, 5-6 SEC) would like, but it has been a struggle to get the ball inside against opponents' sagging zone defenses.

"It's a situation where, if our guards aren't hitting 3s, they can just pack it in on us," assistant coach Susie Gardner said. "Fortunately, our shooters were hitting yesterday. It's just like Sylvia Fowles, Tasha Humphrey - the great posts in this conference are going to be double-teamed or even denied the ball, so that's when the other players need to step up. So that's what's happening. Marshae just has to be patient and realize that she is the target we want."

TOURNEY WATCH: Another split week left the Gators' RPI declining from 43 last week, according to CollegeRPI.com, to 38 after Sunday's win against Arkansas, although UF dropped to seventh in the conference standings. CollegeRPI.com founder Jerry Palm, who releases his bracket Sunday morning before that day's games, moved UF into his "last four out" category. Sunday's home contest against South Carolina (13-12, 2-8 SEC, RPI 89) will be another must-win game for the Gators as they fight for to a .500 record in conference play.

INJURY UPDATE: After sitting out the Feb. 10 game at Mississippi State with a sprained left shoulder, sophomore point guard Lonnika Thompson played sparingly in UF's last two games at Georgia and home against Arkansas. Thompson, who had started 13 straight contests prior to the injury, did not start either game and played only two and seven minutes against the Bulldogs and Razorbacks, respectively. The missed practices have hurt Thompson the most.

"With only two days to prepare for opponents, you have to have your full squad out there to see what our rotations are going to be, what we're going to do offensively or defensively," Gardner said. "It's different if it would've been Depree or Sha, because we know what they're like."

With no game Thursday, Gardner expects to have Thompson back in the normal rotation Sunday against South Carolina. She likely would not start, however, as Gardner cited junior guard Sha Brooks' excellent play at the point in Thompson's absence.

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