Alabama and Florida will be trying to earn second place finishes in their respective divisions in the Southeastern Conference when the Crimson Tide hosts the Gators at 3 p.m. CST Sunday. The game will be telecast by CBS.
Both teams have 8-5 SEC records. LSU has clinched first place in the SEC Western Division and Tennessee has wrapped up the title in the Eastern Division. Second place is important, though, for a team to earn a bye in the SEC Tournament in Nashville beginning March 9.
Alabama is 15-10 overall and coming off a heart-breaking loss at Arkansas, while the Gators are 22-5 and coming off a disappointing home loss to Tennessee. Florida is a sure bet for the NCAA Tournament while Bama is still in need of a few wins to be sure of making the 65-team national championship tournament field.
Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried and Florida Coach Billy Donovan first faced off in 1987 when Gottfried was playing for Bama and Donovan for Providence and the Friars knocked Bama out of the NCAA Tournament. Donovan has been at Florida for 10 years and Gottfried at Alabama for eight years.
Alabama has a 71-53 advantage in games played against Florida, including a 46-14 margin in Tuscaloosa. But the Gators have won five in a row against the Crimson Tide. Alabama's last win in the series came when Bama beat the Gators in Tuscaloosa in 2002 to win the SEC championship.
The game will feature some good players. In the recently-announced National Association of Basketball Coaches all-district teams, the Tide placed 6-10 Jermareo Davidson (13.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game) on the first team and guard Ron Steele (14.1 ppg) on the second team. The Gators put guard Taureen Green (13.8 ppg) on the first team and three players–6-8 forward Corey Brewer (12.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg), 6-11 forward Joakim Noah (13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg), and 6-9 center Al Horford (11.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) on the second team.
Florida starting five also includes 5-10 guard Walter Hodge (4.9 ppg).
In addition to Davidson and Steele, Alabama's starting lineup includes 6-9 forward Evan Brock (3.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg), 6-8 freshman forward Richard Hendrix (9.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg), and 5-10 freshman guard Brandon Hollinger (2.4 ppg).
Gottfried said, ""Florida has a terrific team. They've had a phenomenal year, particularly in starting the year at 17-0. They have so many different offensive weapons."