Location: Colonial Life Arena – Columbia, South Carolina [Capacity: 18,000]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
|FLORIDA GATORS||SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS|
|Head Coach: Billy Donovan||Head Coach: Frank Martin|
|Record: 7-6 (0-0 SEC)||Record: 9-3 (0-0 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
Odds: Pick ‘Em | O/U 125
Donovan announced that Florida redshirt senior center Jon Horford and freshman walk-on guard Zach Hodskins did not travel to South Carolina due to “conduct detrimental to the team,” per the school.
“This is totally a coaching decision and has nothing to do with the university,” Donovan said in a statement. “Our focus now is on this next game and playing with the guys we have here.”
Horford has started 12 of the Gators’ 13 games this season, while Hodskins has seen clean-up duty in a few blowout victories. Both are in their first year with the Gators. Sophomore C Chris Walker will start in Horford’s place.
HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS
» Florida is 42-22 all-time against South Carolina with an 26-11 record under Donovan and victories in six-straight games in the series.
» Donovan is 4-0 all-time against Martin with all showdowns coming this decade. The Gators have won those games by an average of 23.5 points per game.
» UF is 13-5 in SEC openers under Donovan with all five losses coming on the road.
» The Gators were 86-10 over the last three seasons when holding opponents under 71 points in a game; UF is 7-4 this season when doing so.
» Florida has not lost three games in a row since the end of the 2011-12 regular season.
» The Gators have put forward nine different starting lineups in 13 regular-season games. Overall, 10 players have started at least one game for UF this season.
» Florida learned to win close games last season, going 15-2 in contests decided by single digits; the Gators are 2-5 in such affairs this season.
» UF is on pace for 16.7 wins in the regular season while looking for its 17th consecutive season with 20+ victories. Florida’s 16-straight campaigns with that many wins is the longest streak in the SEC and fifth-longest nationally. Only eight coaches have ever won 20+ games in 14+ consecutive seasons.
» Earlier this season, Miami snapped Florida’s program-record 33-game home winning streak, which dated back to Nov. 11, 2012, and was the second-longest in the nation. The Canes also broke the Gators’ school-record 25-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents, which dated back to Dec. 22, 2010.
» Florida is still on program-record 18-game winning streaks against SEC opponents overall (since Jan. 8, 2014) and at home (since Jan. 9, 2014). UF has also won a school-record nine-in-a-row over SEC opponents on the road (since Jan. 11, 2014).
INJURIES AND ABSENCES
» Probable (1): Redshirt junior guard Eli Carter (foot)
» Out (2): sophomore center John Egbunu (transfer – season), freshman guard Brandone Francis (academics – season)
WHAT’S AT STAKE
There is no question that the Gators are still trying to find their mojo after struggling mightily during their non-conference slate. Florida does not have a signature win on the season, and while South Carolina may not be a prestigious program, it is playing its best ball yet under Martin. The Gators going on the road to beat these Gamecocks would be a good first step for Donovan’s crew, which badly needs some success and motivation as league play begins.
Martin is still looking to turn things around in Columbia and there is no better way to kick that off (from an SEC play perspective) than by beating one of the league’s two crown jewels. Florida is reeling and South Carolina has not forgotten the hurt put on it by junior guard Michael Frazier II last season (a career-high 37 points and an SEC-record 11 threes). The Gators are struggling to score and faltering at the end of games, while the Gamecocks are 60th nationally with an average of 73.6 points per game.