Georgia Southern Decent Test

The Florida Gators' disappointingly weak schedule will get a little tougher in the stretch run prior to the start of SEC play. That stretch starts Saturday in Jacksonville when the Gators take on Georgia Southern. The Eagles are 7-1 on the year and, like the Gators, their only loss came at the hands of Florida State.

The FSU games were rather similar for the two squads. Florida trailed the Seminoles by 13 at the half, while Georgia Southern was down a dozen points at intermission. The big difference came in the second half where Florida played the game on just about even terms (30-31) while The Eagles continued to be dominated (31-44).

There are several aspects of this game that could make it very interesting.

Handling the layoff ----- The Gators will have not played in 10 days when the game tips off at 3:00. For a young team, that's an eternity. How will they cope with the idleness? Will they be sharp in terms of taking care of the basketball and shooting effectively? Georgia Southern averages nine steals a game, so they'll force the Gators to play well.

Welcome home ----- There's always a concern when you face a team that has some guys with extra-special motivation. With the Eagles two of their starters are certainly in that category. Freshman guard Willie Powers (13.6) is their second leading scorer. Powers is from P.K. Yonge in Gainesville but was not recruited by Florida. He can score points in bunches. Power forward Matt Fields played at Jacksonville Raines with Derwin Kitchen and spent the last two years at Central Florida Community College in Ocala. He's coming home and gets to show Jacksonville (and the Gators) what they're missing.

Road trip ----- This is just the second time the Gators have left the O'Connell Center, and like the Vermont game it's for an in-state partisan crowd. Still it is travel, which is something they are not used to and the timing helps with Ohio State just a week away.

After Georgia Southern, Florida's remaining non-conference opponents have a combined 17-17 record. While that's not great, it's far better than what the Gators have faced to this point. Additionally, while Ohio State is just 5-3, they've played four ranked opponents. This stretch will challenge Florida to play at a higher level for more than 15-20 minutes a game and should leave the Gators better prepared for their SEC opener at Alabama.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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