For Florida, things couldn’t be better. For Missouri—its first season in the Southeastern Conference—things could be a lot better.
The Gators are one of the hottest teams in the country, if not the hottest. They enter tonight’s SEC showdown against the Tigers having won three straight and 13 of their last 14 contests.
Playing on the road hasn’t been a problem for the Gators this season, as they’ve tallied a 7-2 mark away from Stephen C. O'Connell Center, the best road record in the SEC.
On the heels of a heartbreaking 73-71 loss at Arkansas last Saturday, Missouri is looking to avoid dropping two straight, a feat that has yet to happen this season.
Tonight’s matchup will certainly be entertaining, but it’s also an important game for both teams as they look to finish the season strong.
The Gators have a potent offensive, which will make it tough for the Tigers to defend. Entering the game with the sixth-best field-goal percentage in the country, the Gators boast six players that make over 41 percent of their shots from the field. Senior guard Kenny Boynton leads the Gators in scoring with an average of 13 points per game.
Look for Boynton to get the ball and do what he does best: score.
Florida is a solid defensive group as well, allowing fewer than 60 points in 18 games this season. Over its last three games, the Gators have not allowed an opponent to score more than 58 points.
On the other hand, the Tigers are a rugged bunch in rebounding, averaging over 42 boards per game, second in the nation.
Senior forward Alex Oriakhi has become an important weapon both offensively and defensively for Missouri with his team-leading 8.8 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Phil Pressey leads the Tigers with 6.8 assists per game, while sophomore guard Jabari Brown leads the team with 14.6 points per game.
Missouri needs more consistency from Pressey, and there wouldn’t be a better time for him to get out of his recent shooting slump, which includes going 16-for-44 in his last four games.
If Pressey can revert to his early season form, then Missouri could have a chance to pull off the upset. If not, then Florida will pull away.