Following two more wins last week, the Florida Gators have risen to the top of the AP Top-25 Poll during the regular season for the first time since Feb. 12, 2007. Now, UF must host LSU at the O’Connell Center on Saturday for a mid-afternoon tip-off (4:00 p.m. on CBS). The Charm City Gators will once again host a viewing party for the weekend contest so come out to the Greene Turtle at McHenry Row and support the Orange and Blue as the take on the Tigers.
Florida (25-2, 14-0 SEC) pushed its school-record winning streak to 19 games and remained unbeaten in conference play last week by outlasting Auburn 71-66 at home mid-week and then edging past Ole Miss on the road, 75-71. Coupled with Syracuse’s losses to Boston College and Duke, the Gators jumped up to the top spot in the country this week. Florida was last ranked No. 1 during the regular season in February of 2007 when Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and company were looking to win the team’s second straight National Championship. That year after receiving the ranking, the Gators defeated Alabama at home before falling at Vanderbilt in Tennessee to drop the No. 1 ranking. This time around, however, the Gators managed through some poor play and beat the Commodores 57-54.
Casey Prather continues to lead the Gators in scoring, averaging 15.4 points per game (ppg) on 61.4% shooting. Scottie Wilbekin (13.8 ppg), Michael Frazier II (12.3 ppg), and Patrick Young (10.8 ppg) also remain a threat on the offensive end with Young also grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game. Ranked in the middle of the pack in the SEC offensively (71.3 ppg – 8th), the Gators are stifling on defense, limiting opponents to just 58.7 ppg, the eighth-best mark in the country.
LSU (16-10, 7-7 SEC) was edged by Kentucky, 77-76, in overtime over the weekend in Lexington. The Tigers also beat Texas A&M on Wednesday night 68-49 before making their way down to Gainesville for the Saturday contest.
The Tigers rank third in the conference offensively with a 77.7 ppg average. They are last, however, on the defensive end of the floor, yielding a conference-worst 72.7 ppg.