Gators Look to Even Things at South Carolina

After their first trip through the SEC schedule, the Gators made it through the East with only one loss. It's the team it came against that was the biggest surprise. A three-point loss to South Carolina in mid-January is still haunting Florida. The opportunity to rectify it comes on the road Wednesday night.

"We're at an interesting time now in our league because we'll start to play people for the second time," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "Going to Columbia against a team that played very well here in Gainesville- they really outplayed us all the way through."

The Gators came out of the gates slow against South Carolina in January, and a late spurt didn't help them get back in the game. Florida shot 28% from the field in the first half and went into halftime down ten points.

Florida tied the game with 3:10 remaining in the game, but freshman point guard Ellington scored eight of South Carolina's final 13 points.

"When the game got close, Ellington did a great job making some free throws and making key plays down the stretch," Donovan said.

Donovan now hopes the film from that game has the attention of his players. If the film doesn't, the reminder of disappointment they dealt with after that lost should have their full focus.

"It was a game where they outperformed us and outplayed us," Donovan said. "Now we have the challenge of going there to play."

The Gators are also looking for their first win in Columbia since 2008. If history repeats itself, the game should be close. Eleven of the last 13 games between the two teams have been decided by six points or less.

South Carolina was tough defensively in the first meeting because it dominated the paint. Forward Sam Muldrow comes into the game tied for the lead in the conference at 3.5 blocks a game. He had three early blocks against Florida last month, and the offense was tentative in the paint.

"Muldrow really did a great job of blocking a couple shots that I thought were difficult blocks," Donovan said. "The blocks we have to eliminate are Erving Walker getting too deep and trying to shoot a floater over him. Those aren't good. But when you're going to the rim aggressively as Tyus, Young and Macklin did, something you've got to tip your hat to the defender and give him credit for a heck of a block."

One of the head coaches will also experience a milestone on Wednesday night. Billy Donovan is searching for his 350th win at Florida, while Gamecocks head coach Darrin Horn is looking for his 50th win at South Carolina.

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