#23 Florida Gators (12-3, 3-0 SEC) @ Alabama Crimson Tide (9-5, 2-0)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Coleman Coliseum
Wednesday January 10, 2017; 9 p.m. (EST)
In his second year with the Crimson Tide, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson has a team of unselfish players and oddly enough none of them score in double figures. The Crimson Tide will be at home Tuesday night and bring a deep roster to play against a Gator team that has seen a lot of that already this season.
“It’s interesting… just coming off the Tennessee game what was interesting there they don’t have just one guy that is unbelievable or a couple of guys that are just fantastic on the wing, like when you’re preparing for Arkansas - when you have two wings that can really, really score,” Florida head coach Mike White said on Monday. “Tennessee, where you have 10, 11 guys where, who knows, that can get anywhere from eight to 12 points. This team is similar in that regard. So it presents unique challenges.”
Florida counters with a pretty deep team as well and they like to press to tire teams which won’t be likely with all of the depth at Alabama. White says the two guys that alternate at the center spot
“We have to be really locked into their actions and to the scouting report in terms of personnel; they’re all a little bit different. In my opinion, what I’m really impressed with his their two-headed monster at the five,” White said. “Both of those guys are improved offensively, but they change the game defensively for those guys. I really think (Jimmie) Taylor and (Donta) Hall allow them to be really unique defensively. They clean up so many mistakes and they anchor their defense. They’re very, very imposing at the rim.”
Florida big men John Egbunu and Kevarrius Hayes were in foul trouble Saturday against Tennessee and sat the last several minutes of the game because of it. White knows against this inside duo at Alabama his guys have to be careful, but still play with a sense of urgency as well.
"(There is a) fine line between aggressive and being tentative when they have the ball against these two guys who are just incredible shot alterers and shot blockers,” White said. “I think our fives have a big challenge ahead of them. We have to be aggressive but we have to be intelligent, especially on the road. Sometimes on the road in this league, you can pick up ticky-tacky wins early, so we've got to be sound. We have to show our hands. We have to be physical and clean, legally physical. And then offensively, we've got to be cognizant of the fact that these guys are racers, but we can't be tentative and we can't be scared. We've got to be aggressive but intelligent at the same time."
White’s team is better In transition that setting up at half court, so whenever possible his teams are going to push it up and get to the rim. When in the half court, he doesn’t want his guys to be tentative when they have a shot.
“We’d like to be in attack mode,” he said. “We’d like to have some carryover from our last road game (against Arkansas) where we were very aggressive from the tip - and it helps when you see that thing go in, of course, early on. It helps with your confidence level. I don’t think we can go into this Bama game on the road overthinking and being tentative and being overly concerned with their changing defenses, which they do a very good job of. Like Ole Miss, we’re going to see different looks and they keep you off balance with giving you some pretty unique looks as compared to the rest of our league defensively. But being very, very aggressive is probably key No. 1 offensively for us. They’re just two-point percentage defense is terrific. Their block percentage is terrific. They turn you over. From the tip, we’ll be looking to be as aggressive as we possibly can be. If we have an open look, we have to shoot it with confidence.”
It is the second road game in the conference for the Gators for a team that was tested mightily on the road in the pre-conference schedule. The Gators are currently third in RPI nationally an indicator of their record and how their opponents fared against other teams as well. They are also sitting at number one in the country in terms of current strength of schedule. In other words, the Gators should be ready for this matchup.