No. 13 Florida Gators (21-5, 11-2 SEC) @ Mississippi State Bulldogs (14-11, 5-8 SEC)
Starkville, Miss.; Humphrey Coliseum
Feb. 18, 2017; 2 p.m. EST
It has truly been a team effort for the Gators so far this season but part of that persona has been the fact that the Gators don’t depend on any one player to perform and that different players show up at different times. But, when you take one of those away like has happened with John Egbunu’s season ending injury that is one less person to take up the slack when needed.
Everybody will have to do a bigger start and one that Florida head coach Mike White wants to step up and be more aggressive with his play is sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen.
“Regardless of what happened to John, we want to see KeVaughn be more aggressive. As long as I coach KeVaughn, I’m sure I’ll be continuing to say the same things. He fights that personality he’s got that he’s just very, very laidback. He’s also very selfless.
“I’m asking him to go against his nature to hunt shots and to be ultra-aggressive, because he’s a team guy. But maybe he can continue growing in that area. We need him to be aggressive, whether John’s playing or not.”
While he wants Allen to really push himself offensively because of his natural talent, there are others that need to do step up in other areas and with Egbunu out, rebounding is going to be essential for every position on the court.
“Everybody… Chris and Kasey have come a long way on the defensive glass, especially Chris, he’s been terrific for us,” White said. “Kasey missed a couple of opportunities at Auburn. Justin Leon, and Canyon Barry have made a big jump in the past couple months. He’s been a physicality guy for us. He had a couple of good block outs against their bigs at Auburn. As these guys are in wrestling matches, our guards need to rebound it better.”
On the Bulldogs…
Sophomore Quinndary Weatherspoon is Mississippi State’s leading scorer. White has a ton of respect for Weatherspoon who he recruited out of high school.
“He's a terrific player,” White said of Weatherspoon. “He had a great freshman year and he's having another good sophomore year. He's emerged into one of the best wings in our league. He's good at everything. They can play him at the point. They can play him as a small four. He's big. He's physical. He can really rebound. He can get his own shot. He has a great pace to his game, really good hands, can shoot it, can pass it, the whole deal. He's a good player. They do a good job of freeing up their wings and their guards off of the ball, so we can't allow him any easy ones to get him going."
The Bulldogs re big up front with 6-foot-10 Aric Holman and 6-foot-10 Schnider Herard. Add them to 6-foot-7 guard Mario Kegler, their length and overall size is an issue.
“Holman’s a really talented guy,” White said. “He’s an inside-outside guy, has the ability to stretch the defense and hit 3’s. He’s a good passer, as well. He can score in the interior. He’s a good player. And they’re really big if you look at their starting lineup, the fact that they’re starting the other big freshman at the five (Herard) and they’re starting (Mario) Kegler at the three. They’re huge. That’s a really big lineup. It doesn’t help with the timing, of course, with John’s deal. But it’s opportunity for other guys to step up. We got to find a way.”