Tide At Florida Looks Ominous

The Florida team that Alabama will face in the O'Connell Center in Gainesville Wednesday night is not the equal of Gator squads that have been championship caliber in recent years, but the Crimson Tide can take little comfort in the challenge.



The measurement of disappointment is relative. Florida is at 19-6 overall and 6-4 in Southeastern Conference play and has two consecutive losses. Alabama would be thrilled to have that record. The Crimson Tide is limping along at 13-11, including a 3-7 SEC record. The Gators come into Wednesday's games with two consecutive losses. Bama has three consecutive losses and has been beaten in five of its last six games.

Additionally, Florida's back-to-back losses—indeed, all of the Gators losses—have come on the road. In Gainesville, Florida is 13-0. Alabama is winless on the road and has not won an SEC game in over two years.

Alabama hopes cannot be high as the Crimson Tide prepares for its game at Gainesville. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. EST (6 p.m. central time).

The good news for Alabama? Bama should be at full strength for the game. In the Tide's last outing, a 75-73 last second loss to South Carolina in Tuscaloosa, Bama started that game with two regulars on the bench. Freshman star low post player JaMychal Green had suffered a hip pointer in a loss at LSU and wing player Senario Hillman had been ill prior to the South Carolina game. They should be back in the starting lineup against Florida.

Interim Coach Philip Pearson is also expected to start Mikhail Torrance at point guard, Justin Knox at high post, and Alonzo Gee at small forward.

The big problem for Alabama is Nick Calathes, a 6-6 wing who averages 18.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game. He has hit 50.7 per cent of his field goals, including 41.5 per cent of his three-point shots.

Gee, a native of Riviera Beach, Fla., has been Bama's top player, averaging 14.1 points per game. He also pulls down a team best 7.2 rebounds per game. Hillman isn't a good shooter (42.6 per cent from the field and only 23.9 per cent on three point shots), but averages 13.1 points per game, in part because he averages about two steals per game.

Green is one of the top freshmen in the SEC and in the nation. He is averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds per game.

Following this road game, Bama returns to Coleman Coliseum for a 2 p.m. game against Mississippi State on Saturday.

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