Gators prepare for rough game with Gamecocks

Every starter is at least 6-foot-5 and every starter is at least 200 pounds. At times it can look like a football game is going on with how rough and intimidating South Carolina plays the game of basketball. That is what the Gators have in store for them when they travel to Columbia to meet the Gamecocks Saturday at noon.

Florida Gators (17-9, 8-5 SEC) vs South Carolina Gamecocks (21-5, 8-5 SEC)

Saturday, February 20, 2016; 12:00 noon

Columbia, South Carolina; Colonial Life Arena

TV: SEC Network

Florida likes to play the game tough as well, but the Gamecocks are a bit of another level with their tenacity on the court.

“I’m not sure we can match it, but the effort would be to try and hold it in the road, to try not to be too out-physicalled,” Florida head coach Mike White told the media Thursday. “The rebounding margin can’t be lopsided, the fight within the game can’t be lopsided because that’s obviously what they pride themselves on and we do too.

“They are as tough a team as… they are probably 99th percentile in college basketball. They get after it and play really hard. (Coach Frank Martin) has done a great job of rebuilding that program and I respect the way they play and how hard they play.”

White knows it is important to come out of the gate hard and fast and not get outworked.  

“Probably the biggest factor in the game in the first five minutes is doing what we can to play as hard as we possibly can and to do our best to try and hold that physicality in the road.”

Florida’s shooting has gone south a few times lately. They missed a lot of shots early on Tuesday against Georgia, but their defense kept them in it and they played other parts of the game at a high level, finally the offense caught up in the second half.  He knows his team will have to do a lot of things well to beat the gamecocks.

“What you can control is having six turnovers a game, which would be difficult especially with a team that pressures and gets after you that much,” White said. “They extend the defense in the half court. We have to get good shots. We have to pass up good ones to get great ones. We have to get some interior touches. Those looks that we get, obviously we have to knock some down on the road.”


Florida Projected Starters

Ht. / Wt.



F Dorian Finney-Smith (SR)

6-8, 220



F Justin Leon

6-8, 200



C John Egbunu (SO)

6-11, 255



G KeVaughn Allen (FR)

6-2, 183



G Kasey Hill (JR)

6-1, 180




South Carolina Projected Starters




F Michael Carrera (SR)

6-5, 214



F Mindaugas Kacinas (SR)

6-7, 229



F Chris Silva (FR)

6-9, 220



G Sindarius Thornwell (JR)

6-5, 215



G PJ Dozier (FR)

6-6, 200



Florida did a nice job of not turning the ball over much against a good defense at Georgia. This will be a tougher test, but his Gators need to keep the turnovers under control.

“Live ball turnovers in this game are really important,” he said. “Not allowing them to pressure us into bad decisions. Not only are they physical and play extremely hard, they are quick and fast and really long. P.J. Dozier at the point is extremely long.

“We can’t mess around and be casual. We have to play like its West Virginia approach even though it isn’t extended in the full court. On the road it’s even more difficult. We have to make really solid decisions with the basketball and do our best to get a shot every time down the floor.”

One of the more relentless players in all of college basketball is Gamecock senior forward Michael Carrera. Carrera plays the game like a wolverine, just plain nasty at times.

“He’s a hard playing dude,” White said of Carrera. “I’ve been really impressed when I watched him this year. He one of the most improved in the league. Carrera… you have to try and match his intensity and physicality before anything. You have to block him out. You have to make him bounce. He has a beautiful stroke. He’s just one of those guys that you can’t key in on one thing. As a defender he’s a leader, he’s a loose ball getter, he’s a rebounder. He’s good at everything.

“He seems to be a big piece of glue for them.”

For White, this game is going to be about not getting intimidated and holding their own with loose balls and rebounds.

“The biggest thoughts heading into the game are can you hold your own on the glass and can you match at least some of their toughness,” he said. “That’s a factor and then how you score and handle their pressure.

“We have to be convicted in what we already have in. We have to handle pressure and make slight adjustments. It’s late in the year, they know what we’re going to do we know what they’re going to do.”

“Frank’s has had a ton of success and this isn’t his first stop that he’s had success. I have deep appreciation for the way they approach the game and how hard they battle and the level in which they defend.”

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