Wilbekin wreaks defensive havoc for No. 8 Florida

Scottie Wilbekin is one of Billy Donovan’s best defenders.

Now and ever.

Florida’s junior point guard showed his defensive prowess last week by shutting down Texas A&M’s Elston Turner and Missouri’s Phil Pressey in lopsided victories that extended the team’s winning streak to six games.

Turner, coming off a 40-point game at Kentucky, managed four points on 1-of-10 shooting. Pressey, one of them more dynamic point guards in the country, finished with two points on 1-of-7 shooting and had a career-high 10 turnovers.

Wilbekin wreaked havoc on both of them.

“It’s unbelievable,” teammates Erik Murphy said Monday. “The guy just comes out and guards. I don’t think I’ve ever played with a guy who can guard on the ball like that on any level — high school, AAU or college.”

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The eighth-ranked Gators (14-2, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), who play Wednesday night at Georgia, lead the league in just about every defensive category. And Wilbekin has been the key to the whole thing.

“He’s always hung his hat on being a great defender,” Donovan said. “That’s always been important to him. Our defense has gotten better and he’s got a lot to do with that. As a point guard, it’s probably somewhat changed our team’s mentality a little bit going out there and defending the way we have.

“And it certainly starts with your point guard because he’s picking the ball up from the press, he’s out there at the top and he can set the stage. ... I don’t need to motivate him to play defense. It’s important to him.”

Donovan had high praise Monday for Wilbekin, putting him in the same defensive class as former players Justin Hamilton (1999-2003) and Corey Brewer (2004-07).

Wilbekin spent the last two years playing behind Erving Walker, getting a few minutes here and there while showing glimpses of potential.

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