Despite two more wins last week, the Florida basketball team remained at No. 3 in the latest AP Top 25 poll. Now, the Gators get to stay in Gainesville, hosting Missouri on Tuesday night (9:00 p.m. on ESPN) and Alabama (noon on ESPN) on Saturday at the O’Connell Center. The Charm City Gators will host a watch party for the weekend game against the Crimson Tide at The Greene Turtle at McHenry Row. Come out and watch the Gators as they look to stem the Tide.
The Gators (19-2, 8-0 SEC) remained perfect in conference play by holding off Mississippi State on the road, 62-51, and then controlling Texas A&M, 69-36, in front of a capacity crowd at the O’Dome over the weekend. Sophomore Michael Frazier II scored 21 points in the win over the Aggies and senior Patrick Young corralled 14 rebounds as UF held TAMU to just 25.9% shooting for the game.
Florida leads the SEC in scoring defense, yielding just 57.4 points per game (ppg), and scoring margin (+13.9), despite ranking eighth in scoring offense (71.2 ppg). Senior Casey Prather leads the offense in scoring with 16.2 ppg, while four other Gators are also averaging double figures. Redshirt sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith is nearly averaging a double-double with 10.3 ppg and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Missouri (16-5, 4-4 SEC) comes to the Sunshine State on the heels of an 84-79 home loss to Kentucky on Saturday. The Tigers, led by 33 points from Jabari Brown and 28 from Jordan Clarkson, outscored the Wildcats, 47-42, in the second half, but it was not enough. Tuesday also sees the debut of highly touted freshman Chris Walker after missing the first 21 games of the season.
Brown leads the SEC in scoring the season, averaging 20.4 points per game. The redshirt junior from Oregon has been efficient for the Tigers, shooting 50.8% from the field, and a league-best 47.7% from long range.
The teams split the two meetings last season, the first-ever between the programs. The Gators stifled the Tigers in the first matchup, taking an 83-52 win in Gainesville. Missouri returned the favor a month later by knocking off the Gators, 63-60, in the Show Me State.
Alabama (9-12, 3-4 SEC) dropped both of its contests last week, falling to rival Auburn on the road, 74-55, on Thursday evening, and then losing to Tennessee in Tuscaloosa, 76-59, on Saturday night.
The Tide has fallen to tenth in the conference in both scoring (69.3 ppg) and field goal percentage (44.6%). Senior Trevor Releford, who scored 14 points in the first matchup of the season with UF, is seventh in the conference in scoring with an 18.3 points per game average.