Florida Basketball: What Gators Must Do to Win SEC Championship

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 16:  Head coach Billy Donovan of the Florida Gators yells to his players in the second half against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the semifinals of the SEC Baketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Florida Gators still have some work to do in order to win their first SEC Tournament Championship since 2007.

Florida came into the tournament as the top seed and heavy favorite, so anything less would be a bit of a disappointment.

ESPN's Joe Lunardi projects the Gators as a No. 3 seed. Losing to the Ole Miss Rebels might make the tournament a little tougher should the team fall in the Selection Committee's eyes.

In addition, Ole Miss is going to be playing for an automatic bid. The Rebels are on the bubble, and should they falter in the title game, they could be on the outside looking in at the end of the day.

The Gators have a real test on their hands Sunday. If they're to come out with the victory, they need to ensure these three things happen.


Kenny Boynton Helps Rather Than Hurts

Kenny Boynton has been one of the most frustrating players in the country.

He has immense talent, but consistency has been a major issue with him. Sometimes you never know exactly which Boynton is going to show up, which is a problem because Florida's fortunes are directly tied to what he does on the court.

In the Gators' six losses, Boynton has scored a total of 48 points and shot 30.6 percent from the field, including 20.0 percent from three-point range.

Those numbers are absolutely atrocious. Conversely, he's averaging 13.3 points and a field-goal percentage of 41.1.

Nobody on the team has taken more shots than Boynton. That's not a bad thing when he's hitting his shots. Should he struggle, Florida is in real trouble.


Make Ole Miss' Supporting Cast Beat You

Shutting down Marshall Henderson would be a great move for the Gators. That might not necessarily be the best strategy, though.

Henderson's scoring ability is there for all to see. He's averaging 20.0 points per game and is not afraid to launch 10 three-pointers a night.

As a 38.3 percent shooter, the chance of Henderson going off for a huge game is a bit diminished. You can let him do his thing as long as the Rebels players around him have a hard time scoring.

In Florida's 78-64 win over Ole Miss back in February, Henderson scored 25, while Murphy Holloway added 15. That left the Rebels' seven remaining players all splitting 24 points.

Henderson is too unreliable as a shooter to be able to beat Florida all by himself. It's almost the reverse of the principle of smothering a star player and making his teammates beat you.

The Gators are such a good defensive team that they can exert all of their efforts toward cutting off the secondary options for Henderson.

If that happens again, the Gators will be in business.


Don't forget to download a printable NCAA Tournament bracket and watch Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.