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MEMPHIS — Amid the early-season suspensions, injuries and uncertainties, Florida senior Patric Young panicked all of one day – just one. It was Nov. 21, and Florida entered its home game against Middle Tennessee State without its two point guards, suspended Scottie Wilbekin and injured Kasey Hill.

"We had young men playing spots in college that they had never played in high school," Florida assistant John Pelphrey told USA TODAY Sports. "It's like a wide receiver playing quarterback – shouldn't work. Take a defensive back and let him be the quarterback. That was literally what we were doing."

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Using a combination of 6-foot-6 DeVon Walker, three-point specialist Michael Frazier and 6-8 power forward Dorian Finney-Smith as primary ballhandlers, the Gators still managed to win that day by 20 points against, as Pelphrey notes, a formidable opponent that eventually won 24 games.

"That's a special memory," Pelphrey said. "Stuff like that has happened, and it has really endeared this group to us as coaches. Whatever the challenge, they have not said, 'Nah, we can't do that.' Billy (Donovan) has laid a foundation, a road map to get the job done, and they have not even asked, they are just trying to do it."

It's been the story of Florida's distinguished season. A team comprised of four senior starters confronted injuries and suspensions yet never wavered. Undermanned and banged up, the Gators, who have won 30 straight games, continued to win, losing only at Wisconsin and at UConn, two teams that will join Florida in the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.

Through the adversity, the calming influence was Donovan, who repeatedly told his team, "We only need five guys who can go out there, play as hard as you can, reflect my personality, and we'll be fine."

Wilbekin, who served a five-game suspension to start the season but finished the regular season as the SEC player of the year, said the issues the team dealt with were a big reason why players were able to come together to reach the fourth Final Four of Donovan's tenure.

"That might be a stretch to say you only have to have five guys," Wilbekin said, "but it was the mindset we carried with us whether we had people suspended or people injured. We played a lot of guys with not everyone on the team available. We had the mindset that we could win no matter who was out."

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Young recalls countless analogies that his coach used, but one that Donovan repeated early this season stuck with him.

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"We tried to lay down good soil early in the season even though things were kind of tough, guys were still locked in and buying into the system, working every day, staying in the moment," Young said. "I believe now, because of the good soil that was laid, we are starting to reap what we have sown."

Throughout the offseason and into the fall, Donovan dealt with a long list of personnel issues:

In June, Donovan suspended Wilbekin for the second time in a year for an undisclosed violation. More than that, Donovan felt Wilbekin had lost all credibility within the team and needed to transfer.

But the guard was determined to stay. So the Gainesville resident moved in with his parents and agreed to meet other conditions, including early-morning workouts. Wilbekin has been sensational this season, especially in the waning moments of games.

"It's been an up-and-down road and journey … " Wilbekin said. "The journey has been a struggle at times, but it's also had a lot of highs this year."

Added Young: "I've seen tremendous maturity and growth in Scottie through this whole process. A guy that almost hit rock bottom and has seen how fragile his basketball career is to just wanting to build that trust back and stick to the process."

Eli Carter redshirted this season to recover from a broken leg. Tenacious defender Will Yeguete had micro-fracture knee surgery in May.

Finney-Smith was suspended for the season's first two games because of an undisclosed violation of team rules. Hill missed four non-conference games, including the one-point loss to UConn, with a high ankle sprain.

Damontre Harris, a 6-10 shot-blocking South Carolina transfer, was suspended for the fall semester before Donovan dismissed him from the team before Christmas. Donovan has said that Harris will play next season if he meets certain terms and conditions.

"It's just bizarre all the things we have had," Pelphrey said.

"A truck load of difficult things," assistant Matt McCall said.

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And then there was the eligibility saga of Chris Walker, who spent the fall taking online classes to gain eligibility. He joined the team Dec. 14, but faced an eligibility review from the NCAA, which suspended Walker for 12 games for receiving preferential treatment from five people, including two agents.

Donovan knew Walker missed a whole summer and fall of lifting, and appeared to try to temper the expectations for Walker, an explosive shot-blocker who made his debut Feb. 4 against Missouri.

"When he was having to get the academic work done to get here, that was difficult on him," McCall said. "All his friends go off to college, his AAU teammates go off to college, and he has to sit there at his house and finish some coursework on a computer. That's tough. But it's been a humbling experience and it has changed him as a person for the better."

Regarding all of the issues, Donovan said: "I do think this. They are better players today by going through what they went through. If it would have been easier on them, I don't think they'd be quite as good. The struggle they have had to go through has forced them to have perseverance, resiliency, mental and physical toughness to be able to battle and fight."

Back on Nov. 21, Donovan said it was "painful" to watch his team play devoid of a true point guard against Middle Tennessee State. But the Gators (36-2) have lost only one game since, the buzzer-beater at UConn. And the Gators will now get a rematch with the Huskies in Saturday's national semifinals.

"We all have faced countless things that brought us down and brought us to our rock bottom, but we all bounced back," Young said. "Just indescribable how we can go through all that and be where we are today."

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