The Florida Gators split their two games this week against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. It was a very good week.
"Wait a minute. Two weeks ago you said a split was a disaster. What's going on here?" That is true. I did say that. In conference play, not all splits are created equal. When you look ahead at the week coming up (home game against South Carolina, road game at Auburn) and you say "I think we should win both of those" and you come within an eyelash of getting swept, that's a disaster. It's especially bad, when the following week is one you look at and say "I hope we can get a split."
When you look at the upcoming week and you say, "I hope we can get a split" and you get it, that's a good week.
When looking at this week with a road game at Mississippi State, who was coming off a home loss and Vanderbilt, also coming off a home loss, you knew it would be tough. Mississippi State was in desperation mode at 10-9, but with Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost in the lineup, are a much better than 10-9 team. Still the Gators were down one point with a minute to go with the ball. No reason to complain about that effort.
Florida went ice cold down the stretch, a recurring problem, that cost them the game. Admittedly this team is tough to watch at times. They are not the most fluid on offense. Still too many passes are finding wide open cheerleaders. But this team is very scrappy.
Against Vanderbilt they needed to be. Because that was some ugly basketball. neither team seemed to be able to hit an open shot. Both teams committed too many turnovers. It was a sloppy game. Fittingly, it went into overtime. In overtime, the game was decided by attrition. Much like the UGA game last week, Vandy starts started fouling out in the OT, Festus Ezelie, Jeffery Taylor and Steve Tchiengang all went out early.
Florida out-manned the Commodores the rest of the way to pull out the four point win. Chandler Parsons led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker each had 15. Walker and Boynton each had a huge three point basket. Walker hit one at the halftime buzzer to give UF a one point lead at 25-24. Boynton hit one in the overtime to give the Gators a two point lead, 60-58.
I will admit that if Florida plays on Saturday like they did on Tuesday, Kentucky will run them out of the gym. But this team seems to be one that plays to the level of its competition. So expect them to give UK a good contest.
The Gators are currently six to two at the halfway point in the SEC schedule. They are right where they need to be. A 10-6 record should get Florida no lower than a six seed in the NCAA Tournament, even if they lose in the first SEC Tournament game. If the Gators can go 12 to four and win the SEC, they should be looking at a three seed. 12-4 may be asking a bit too much with the second half of the schedule toughening up a bit. The Gators have two games with Kentucky, one with Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, LSU, Georgia and Vanderbilt. It's tough to pick out six wins in that group. In fact, looking at each two game weeks, I'm thinking a split sounds good in all of them.
This week is Kentucky at home and South Carolina on the road. I'd take a split right now. The next week is Tennessee at home and LSU on the road. That might be the best opportunity for a sweep.
If UF can win its home games and beat LSU on the road, that would be a good finish. They would be 11 to five and probably looking at a top five seed. Is this team going to have post season success? Well, that's a whole other issue. They can worry about that later.