Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
TV: ESPNU/ESPNUHD (Tom Hart, Matt Doherty)
SiriusXM: 93/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app
|No. 4 FLORIDA GATORS||No. 16 OLE MISS REBELS|
|Head Coach: Billy Donovan||Head Coach: Andy Kennedy|
|Record: 17-2 (7-0 SEC)||Record: 17-3 (6-1 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
|Roster | Schedule||Roster | Schedule|
Odds: Florida -18 | O/U 135
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida is 60-42 all-time against Ole Miss, boasting a 13-6 mark since Donovan took over the program. UF is 35-11 against Mississippi in Gainesville (13-6 under Donovan) and has won four-in-a-row in the overall series as well as 10 of the last 11.
» The Gators are currently riding a nine-game winning streak, their longest since the middle of the 2008-09 season (10). UF went undefeated in the month of January (8-0) for the first time since 2007.
» Four of Florida’s regular starters are averaging double figures.
» The Gators have held three opponents under 40 points, eight more under 50 and four more under 60 so far this season. No opponent has scored more than 67 points on Florida, and UF has not surrendered more than 58 points over its last eight games.
» Florida is 42-3 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (17-2 in 2012-13).
» The Gators were just 3-5 against top-25 opponents last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams. UF is currently scheduled to take on seven top-25 opponents as part of the 2012-13 campaign and is already 2-1 in such games.
» Florida is outscoring SEC opponents by an average of +28.3 points per game, which is the best in league play through seven games since Kentucky in 1996 (+24.2).
» Ole Miss is the only other SEC team with fewer than two losses in conference action.
» The Tigers are fifth nationally in scoring offense (80.0 points), seventh in turnover margin (+5.0), eighth in three-point field goal defense (.279), 13th in scoring margin (+14.9), 15th in blocked shots (5.6).
» The Gators are second nationally in scoring defense (50.4), scoring margin (+23.4) and field goal defense (.359); eighth in field goal percentage (.495) and rebound margin (+8.9); 16th in three-point shooting (8.6) and 19th in three-point percentage (.392).
» Florida is also sixth nationally in fouling, committing 13.8 per game.
Read the rest of the Florida-Ole Miss preview with much more after the break!
WHAT’S AT STAKE / PLAYER TO WATCH
Blowing past their first seven league opponents – including a Missouri team that was supposed to put up a fight even with its best player on the mend – the Gators have had their way with the SEC up to this point. Saturday’s game presents a tough test for Florida at home against the next-highest ranked league opponent, one that before losing to Kentucky earlier in the week was also undefeated in SEC play. The Gators are 2-1 against top-25 opponents during this campaign and are looking to make another major statement by picking up a huge victory against the Rebels. Like Missouri two weeks ago, Ole Miss enters UF coming off a big league loss. Saturday also provides Florida with a great chance to take control of the SEC standings.
» Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin (#5) has been a revelation for the Gators. A pass-first point guard on offense, Wilbekin is also Florida’s best perimeter defender and has made headlines this season after locking down some of the best individual players that UF has gone up against in league play. Wilbekin’s 9.1 points, team-high 4.9 assists, 2.8 rebounds and team-high 1.7 steals are all career bests for the third-year player. His 41.5 percent accuracy from downtown is third-best among the eight rotation players, making him an true threat to opponents on both ends of the court.
Coming off a tough home loss against the Wildcats in a game that was built up to be one of the most important in Rebels program history, Ole Miss takes on an even tougher opponent in Florida that has shut down even the best offenses it has faced this season. The Rebels enter the O’Dome ranked fifth nationally in points per game with an average of 80 but will face their greatest test of the season from an opposing defense. A victory for Ole Miss in its only meeting with Florida this season would vault it right back into the SEC regular season title picture and give the program much-needed confidence before it focuses on Missouri next weekend.
» Redshirt junior G Marshall Henderson (#22) is a spark plug and one of the most controversial players in college basketball both for his on-court antics and ability to seemingly drain the ball from anywhere on the court. Henderson leads the Rebels in minutes (30.3) and points per game (19.3) but struggled with his shot against the Wildcats, going 5-for-19 from the field. He still wound up with 21 points by hitting 9-of-12 attempts from the free throw line. The Gators will look to take him out of the game early, but Henderson can catch fire at any time making him a menace that Florida will have to pay attention to throughout the contest.
POOR FREE THROW SHOOTING NOT FROM LACK OF EFFORT
Out of the eight players that are a part of Florida’s primary rotation, no two struggle as much from the charity stripe as juniors forward Will Yeguete and center Patric Young. Yeguete at 57.4 percent has actually made a marked improvement from last season, shooting 21.5 percent better from the free throw line than he did during the 2011-12 campaign (35.9 percent). Young, on the other hand, is making just 50 percent of his shots, which is down 9.3 percent. If there is one area that the Gators are vulnerable offensively, it is when those two players (especially Young) get fouled.
“Patric Young and Will Yeguete, to their credit, both those guys have put extra time in. This is not a situation at all … where they’re not working at it,” Donovan said on Thursday. “We get 20 hours a week. That time gets used up pretty quickly between individual instruction and practice. There’s got to be guys that have a commitment on their own to work on certain areas of the game that maybe we’re not able to spend more time on and free throw shooting is one of those things. Patric, the last three or four weeks, he has put the extra time in and I know he wants to get better at it, as does Will.”
DEFENSE FIRST, FUN SECOND
Donovan admitted Thursday that one of the reasons he is so impressed with how Florida has been playing defense this season is because the team has been able to put aside some of the things about the game that are much more fun and selfish, such as scoring, to work on a team concept that has made a big difference in their success up to this point. He described this attitude adjustment and the change in mindset that must occur for the transition to be successful.
“When you’re a kid growing up playing the game of basketball … I can’t imagine that many guys say, ‘Gee, I want to go to the park today to play. I’m not going to take my ball but I’m just going to do defensive slides for two hours. I’m going to work on running back in transition, and I’m going to grab some people in the schoolyard and let them run me over and take charges,’” Donovan said. “Those things that you’re talking about doing are not things that are enjoyable, but I often find things that make teams really successful are the players that have a willingness and a desire to do the things that are uncomfortable and that maybe a lot of times aren’t enjoyable.”
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Senior guard Kenny Boynton is in his fourth year as a starter for the Gators. He is quickly making his way up many of Florida’s all-time lists and is already first in school history in three-point field goals made (307) and attempted (881). He currently leads the SEC in career points (1,848) and three-pointers among active players and is sixth all-time in SEC history in three-pointers made.
1. Ronnie Williams – 2,090 points
2. Andrew Moten – 1,930 points
3. Kenny Boynton – 1,848 points
1. Erving Walker – 4,358
2. Kenny Boynton – 4,103
1. Andrew DeClerq – 128
2. Udonis Haslem – 125
3. Kenny Boynton – 124
3. Andrew Moten – 124
Field goal attempts
1. Stacey Poole – 1,578
2. Andrew Moten – 1,572
3. Kenny Boynton – 1,498
Field goals made
1. Ronnie Williams – 772
7. Udonis Haslem – 633
8. Kenny Boynton – 604
Boynton is also approaching the top 10 in games played (three away), free throws made (17 away) and assists (20 away).