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Gators and Ospreys square off again

The University of North Florida Ospreys isn’t a very common opponent for Florida’s Men’s Basketball Team, but the two teams will square off after meeting last March in the NIT Tournament. Just 70 miles apart, the two teams face each other for only the sixth time and the Gators will travel again to their building.

#24 Florida Gators (6-1) @ North Florida Ospreys (3-5)

Jacksonville, Florida; UNF Arena

December 1, 2016; 7:00 P.M.

BROADCAST: ESPN3

The tour of the state of Florida continues for the Gators and after playing a couple of games early in the season at Jacksonville Memorial Arena, Florida will travel to the UNF campus to face the Ospreys this time. The Gators hope the outcome is much like the last one where they won 97-68 and probably had their best shooting performance of the year last season, including making 16 3-pointers.

Florida head coach Mike White thinks his team will be up for the Ospreys, but isn’t counting on things going quite as well as they did last year.

“I would hope our guys would walk in there with a little bit of confidence, unlike walking into a place where you’ve really struggled,” he said about returning to UNF Arena. “North Florida is a really good program, coming off of a couple of championships. I don’t think we can expect that lopsided margin at halftime as we saw last year in the NIT. That was our best shooting night of the year. I don’t think we can hang our hat on that

“I don’t think our guys should go in there lacking confidence either. We shouldn’t. We should just be middle of the road. We should feel confident but understand we need to play well. It’s a true road game against a good team and against one of the better guards that we’ll play all year in Dallas Moore.”

Scout

Moore is the driving force for the Ospreys. The senior guard averages 19.1 points per game and 44% from the 3-point line. Moore isn’t afraid to shoot it from anywhere.  

“He requires a guy and a half or two guys, specifically with ball screens,” White said. “If you go under a ball screen on Dallas Moore within 24-feet, he’s going to get a high percentage shot. Going right, going left, getting downhill, getting a step-back, those are all pretty high percentage shots for him. He’s just a really talented scoring point guard. He’s very aggressive, very confident, and he’s got the green light. He’s a very good player who we’re really familiar with. I saw him play in high school. He was teammates with our point guard at Louisiana Tech, Speedy Smith.

“We’ve got to do a really good job with him. It’s not only going to be our point. We switch so much that it will be our two’s, sometimes it will be our wings, and sometimes it will be our fours. I thought Keith Stone did a really good job defensively to allow himself more minutes the other night against Miami. He did a really good job on number zero, their leading scorer. Just moving his feet and staying down in his stance. Guys like Keith and Justin Leon and Devin Robinson, when they have opportunities to guard a guy like Dallas Moore, they have to use their length and stay in front. Make sure nothing is easy, everything is contested.

While center Romero Banks is a double-digit scorer and brings a little size for the Ospreys it is the quickness and play of the backcourt that has to really be attended to.

“Your biggest concern going into these games, with especially how many ball screens they set, especially in transition, would be that ball screen coverage by our fives, guys that aren’t quick as fast as the guy with the ball in his hands,” White said. “In transition we have to cup the basketball, wall them off, what have you. We can’t just slow (Moore) down with one guy. We’ve got to be in those gaps, collectively slow him down and set our man-to-man defense.”

We’ll be following the game live on our message boards tonight here on Fightin’ Gators.


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