Florida Gators (9-4, 1-0) vs Tennessee Volunteers (7-6, 0-1)
Wednesday, January 6, 2016; 7 p.m.
Knoxville, Tennessee; Thompson Boling Arena
Florida head coach Mike White thinks the Volunteers are a big time opponent and the Gators need to be on their A-Game.
“They’re a good team,” White said at his weekly press conference. “They are 7-0 at home. They play very hard. They are led by (guard) Kevin Punter who is getting 23 a game and is playing as well as anyone in the SEC. They have good team speed and quickness. It will be a tough challenge for us to go up there and steal one on the road. Everyone in this league is good, they are a little bit better at home.”
It is a matchup of two coaches in the first year of their teams and White has a great deal of respect for Rick Barnes.
This will be my first time competing against him as an assistant or head coach,” White said. “For the most part his style has been winning. In the limited amount of film I’ve seen in the last 24 hours they are very scrappy. They are quick to the ball, very aggressive, very strong. They have good team speed. They aren’t the biggest team in the league but are overcoming that with how hard they play and of course they are putting Kevin Punter in position offensively to succeed and he’s having a heck of a season.”
The Volunteers run a two guard and three-forward offense and no starter is over 6-foot-7. Punter is the leader averaging 22.8 points and three rebounds a game. Next is 6-foot-4 forward Armani Moore who puts in 13.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a game.
The Gators are 2-3 away from the O’Connell Center and will need to be ready for the tough crowd. They have been getting great play from a couple of young guards who have remained calm wherever they play. Freshman KeVaughn Allen and sophomore Chris Chiozza will likely start tonight and have maintained a steady composure on the court throughout the season.
Sometimes Mike White would like the two to be a bit more frantic than they have been.
“At times it is important and at times we want them to get out of their comfort zone in terms of leading and being enthusiastic… being a little more vocal at times, both of those guys,” he said. “You don’t see as many lulls with those guys as well. With that type of innate personality, it could have its advantages. I don’t think those guys get rattled very often.”