It's all in the Numbers

The Florida Gators are off to a remarkable start to the SEC season. With wins in five of their first six games, Florida holds a slight lead over Tennessee in the East division, and the Vols have spent all of the season in the top 10 of both polls. Looking at the numbers, it's clear to see that several Gators have stepped up their games during conference play.

In December, there were times that no one was quite sure where the Gators' scoring was going to come from. As Billy Donovan experimented with lineups, scoring at times would be non-existent while the head coach searched for combinations that worked on both ends of the floor.

Now that Donovan has become more comfortable with his young team, and the young team has become more comfortable with their roles, just about everyone has seen increases in production. And it's been the starting five that has really stepped up its production in the first six games of the SEC season.

Nick Calathes --- Calathes has been phenomenal all season long, but he's really settled into his role since the SEC schedule began. Calathes is averaging 18.8 points per game in SEC play, which is up four points compared to the non-SEC slate (14.8). He's scored in double figures in all six games and dropped more than 20 against Kentucky, Alabama and South Carolina. But Calathes has done a better job of distributing the ball as well. After averaging two assists for every turnover through the first 15 games, he's averaging close to three assists per turnover in conference play, including 10 assists with only two turnovers against Vanderbilt this weekend.

Dan Werner -- For Werner, it was just a matter of the forward getting used to his new role. After spending most of last season hanging out behind the arc, Werner is now posting solid numbers in all the hustle categories. His assists are up, he's blocking more shots and he's getting more steals. And in the scorebook, Werner has seen his scoring increase by more than 60 percent. He's averaging 11.5 points per game in conference play up from 7.1 in non-conference games.

Jai Lucas -- Like Calathes, Lucas hasn't been a freshman intimidated by conference play. Lucas is dishing out more assists, dishing 2.7 assists per game in conference play compared to 2.1 assists in non-conference matchups. Also, Lucas is shooting the ball better, seeing both his field goal and 3-point field goal percentages increase during SEC play. And he's averaging 11.7 points per game versus 8.9 against non-conference teams.

Marreese Speights -- Specifically in the last three games, Speights has been a big part of Florida's success. After riding the pine in the loss to Ole Miss, the Gators have won three straight and Speights has scored in double figures in each of the wins. He's also becoming a stronger force on the boards, grabbing 8.5 rebounds in SEC games compared to 7.6 during the non-conference schedule.

Walter Hodge -- Posting his career best 19 points against Vanderbilt on Sunday, the lone upperclassman has become a dependable scorer for head coach Billy Donovan. Hodge has scored in double figures in four of six SEC games, and his average has jumped from 9.5 points per game to 11.8. Hodge is also shooting the ball better from the floor and has made 9-of-10 free throws in conference play.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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