Just how good is this Florida Gators (18-3, 5-1) basketball team?
After whipping Vandy 94-69 in Nashville on Sunday (Jan. 25) and last night's (Jan. 28) game in Gainesville, where Florida beat up on the Georgia Bulldogs 83-57, the Gators look like they have rebounded well from the heartbreaking loss at South Carolina.
The Gamecocks won on a last second lay-up that came after Chandler Parsons bricked the first attempt of a one and one that, if both were made, would have most likely won the game. A second before that, Nick Calathes also wasted a one and one opportunity that could also have clinched the game.
When the team returned to Gainesville that night, Parsons and Calathes headed straight to the gym and shot free throws into the wee hours of the night.
It looks like that extra effort has paid off.
Parsons was having a tough time making anything all season, but the next game he blew up for 27 points against the Commodores, including going 7-8 from behind the arc.
Against Georgia, Calathes got his second career triple-double with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. It was actually pretty funny because, with about 9:30 left in the second half, I noticed that he already had a double-double and only needed three more assists. My girlfriend turned to me and asked, "Do you think he knows?" I said, "Probably, I'm sure someone on the bench has noticed...but who knows?"
Then, on the next Gator possession, Nick was practically begging for the ball. One time he actually passed to Dan Werner, who was open in the corner, and yelled at him to take the shot, which I would imagine was a clear indication that he knew (Werner did not take the shot, much to Calathes' chagrin).
After a few turnovers caused by Calathes trying to force assists, he finally got a big downcourt pass to an open Chandler Parsons for a huge slam to give him his 10th assist, giving him the third triple-double in Florida history and passing Corey Brewer, who owns the other one.
So back-to-back happy endings for the two former high school teammates who took the brunt of the blame for the Gators' lone SEC blemish (5-1) a week earlier.
But do these last two games really tell us anything?
Vanderbilt is 1-5 in conference play, and Georgia is 0-5. The combined conference record of the teams Florida has played so far is 9-23. The tough part of the Gators' schedule is coming up (@Tenn, vs. USC, and @ Kentucky). The coming weeks will give us an idea of whether or not this year's version is anything like last year's team, who had the same 18-3 record at this point in the season but finished 3-8, missing the Tournament.
The team has assuredly learned its lesson from last year, but the question remains if they are tough enough to control their fate this time around...