#25 Florida Gators (15-5, 6-2 SEC) @ Oklahoma Sooners (8-11, 2-6 Big 12)
Norman, Oklahoma; Lloyd Noble Center
January 28, 2017; 2 p.m. EST
This isn’t the most convenient time to throw a big time non-conference basketball game into the schedule, but the Gators head to Oklahoma and actually had their biggest win of the season in the Challenge a year ago. Florida just missed the NCAA Tournament a year ago, but their 88-71 beating of West Virginia was the biggest win of the season.
Only in his second year as the coach of the Gators, he can’t complain so far.
“Well, I’m probably not the best guy to ask” White said when asked what he thought of the timing. “I’ve only been involved in it for one year, and it was very beneficial. A big home win against a good West Virginia team. I’m sure other coaches in our league have different opinions. I think it gives us all an opportunity to represent our league and to get quality wins for our league and ourselves.”
The Gators had a quality win on Wednesday in terms of how they looked. They disposed of LSU in Baton Rouge to the tune of 106-81. Almost everything the Gators did on offense worked, something different than they have seen pretty much all season.
“After the bounce-back we had (Wednesday), we feel pretty good about ourselves,” White said. “There can be a trap there as well. I don’t want us to necessarily feel great about ourselves. We had the right amount of edge last night. As we go forward, every team is different. This team… we’ve learned that we’ve got to play with a certain amount of edge or we don’t defend and rebound to our capabilities.”
“Hitting all the threes we hit last night… when we just try to outscore you, that’s just not who we are. We’re not a prolific offensive team. We played the right way last night. The ball was moving, we got stops, we fell into some open threes early in the game and it really got us going. But certainly, you’d like us to have the right mix of confidence and humility moving forward, knowing what we’re capable of.”
Florida has played most of their schedule on the road this season due to fixes to the O’Connell Center in Gainesville. They have built their No. 12 RPI based on playing a bunch of quality teams away from home. White says his team welcomes the ‘Challenge’ of playing on the road.
“I think when we were at our best earlier in the season, we did our best in terms of how we ran with each other and defending at a really high level,” he said. “It’s when we were spending the most time with one another. We’re kind of back to our roots, if you will, as we look back on October and November, this is what we did for a long time. With certain teams it’s probably not in their best interest, but with our crew, for whatever reason, we’ve played better away from home. I certainly hope that continues at Oklahoma. It just provides the built-in opportunities to hang out in hotels and on buses and play with less distraction, less people that we’re close with other than their teammates. Our players are embracing it. It’s been a good trip for us. It makes it easier when the ball goes through the net.”
Guards Jordan Woodard (17.3) and Rashard Odomes (10.3) are the Sooners two double digit scorers. Woodard is the heart of the team and loves to help his teammates get the ball, but can score in many different ways. The Sooners have four guys that shoot over 40% from three, but are more of a defensive minded team taking open shots when they are there. The Gators have to play solid three-point line defense and of course have to be able to score against a good defensive squad to pull off the win.