No. 10 Florida Gators vs. No. 7 Syracuse Orange

By Adam Silverstein
December 10, 2009

Event: SEC/Big East Invitational
Location: St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL [Capacity: 20,500]
Time: 9:00 p.m. (EST)

Online: ESPN360
Sirius: 214; XM: 199

No. 10 Florida Gators No. 7 Syracuse Orange
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Jim Boeheim
Record: 8-0 Record: 8-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Big East
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Syracuse -3, O/U 146
Head-to-Head Stats: ESPN Insider Pick Center

– Senior forward Dan Werner…who has struggled with his career from three-point range but is hitting a team-high 51.9 percent from beyond the arc in 2009.
– Five-star freshman guard Kenny Boynton…who has a 15:1 assist-to-turnover ratio combined in the last two games.
– Head coach Billy Donovan…who is coaching his 500th career game on Thursday.
– Redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin…who has hit 12 consecutive free throws and is shooting 73.7 percent from the line after hitting just over 30 percent during his time with the Georgetown Hoyas.
– Senior F Chandler Parsons…who comes off the bench as Florida’s sixth man, is fourth on the team in scoring and leads them in rebounding with averages of 11.1 PPG and 6.4 RPG. He is averaging a career-high 27.1 minutes per game.

– The Gators are 8-0 for the first time since 2005 and just the third time in school history.
– Florida is 4-2 all-time at the St. Pete Times Forum.
– The Gators are 43-30 (.589) all-time against the Big East, 15-7 under Donovan and 2-1 all-time against the Orange.
– This is Florida’s first appearance in the SEC/Big East Invitational.
– The Gators have allowed only two opponents to score 60 points or more in 2009.
– Florida has come up with 49 steals in the last five games, reaching double-digits in steals three times over that stretch.
– Since 2005, the Gators are 24-3 in the month of December.
– Florida has the best winning percentage in the SEC against ranked opponents during the last nine seasons (42-29, .592).

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Syracuse Orange preview after the jump!

Though the No. 10 Florida Gators (8-0) and No. 7 Syracuse Orange (8-0) are both still trying to find their identities in 2009 and look drastically different from the two teams that met in Kansas City, MO, in 2008, they will go head-to-head in the 2009 SEC/Big East Invitational on Thursday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Syracuse’s first road game of the season comes against a Florida team only allowing an average of 57.9 points per game so far in 2009. The Orange have rebounded after an embarrassing exhibition loss to Division II Le Moyne College in November to, like UF, win their first eight regular season games.

The Gators, on the other hand, have experience on the road this year, defeating Jacksonville University and playing two games in Atlantic City, NJ, for the 2009 Legends Classic. In that tournament, Florida defeated their first Top 25-ranked team of the season in the then-No. 2 Michigan State Spartans. Syracuse has also beaten a top opponent in 2009, taking down the then-No. 6 North Carolina Tarheels on Nov. 20.

Freshman guard Kenny Boynton leads Florida with 13.9 PPG, while senior forward Chandler Parsons is the most dominant off the glass with 6.4 RPG. Sophomore point guard Erving Walker, Parsons and junior redshirt transfer center Vernon Macklin are also averaging double-digit points with just over 11 PPG each. Macklin, along with junior F Alex Tyus, are also strong on the boards with almost 6 RPG individually.

In their meeting last season, the Orange defeated the Gators 89-83 in the semifinals of the CBE Classic. “Florida is very good,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I think they’re really a much better team than they were last year. They were right on the edge of the NCAA, and they’re a much different team.”

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