Florida (16-2) has won its first three SEC games with two of those victories coming in the O'Connell Center. Carolina (12-4) is 1-2 in the SEC with a home win and two losses away from home. The teams do have one common SEC opponent. Carolina beat Auburn 68-56 at home while the Gators traveled to Auburn and came away with a 68-65 win. Both schools also beat Winthrop with relative ease with Florida (74-45) posting a more dominating score than did the Gamecocks (86-63).
Carolina is under the direction of first year coach Darren Horn who joined the Gamecocks after a successful stint at Western Kentucky. He replaced Dave Odom who advocated a rather methodical style of play. Horn inherited a pretty talented team led by the backcourt tandem of Devan Downey (19.6) and Zam Frederick (16.3). They are assisted by a couple of solid front court players in slender junior Dominique Archie (11.6/7.3) and burly sophomore Mike Holmes (11.4/7.3). They lead the SEC in turnover margin at plus-six a game, so Florida will have to take care of the ball.
Florida coach Billy Donovan has a 16-3 record against Carolina including five straight wins. He talked about this Gamecocks team.
"This will be a game on the road against maybe the best backcourt in the league in Downey and Frederick," Donovan said. "I think their team is playing a lot differently than it did a year ago in terms of trying to create turnovers and trying to press and get after people. I do think that two players that have continued to improve and get better are Dominique Archie and Michael Holmes. Both of those guys have provided scoring and rebounding. They are very aggressive and physical up front.
"(Brandis) Raley-Ross is a guy last year that was shooting at one point in the SEC about 50-plus percent from the three-point line. He's battled some injuries earlier in the year, but he's back playing. They're a hard team to guard because they have two very explosive three point scorers, plus (Evaldus) Baniulis another very good three point shooter."
Donovan pointed out that even though the Gators played South Carolina twice last year, those game tapes won't help the Gators prepare.
"It's a totally different style of play than Dave was playing a year ago," he said. "They appear to be an energized team, an excited team. They gave Tennessee an excellent run there in the second half to get back in the game and give themselves a chance. This will be another great test for our team on both ends of the floor, taking care of the ball and obviously trying to guard and rebound against this team."
Gator Tid Bits
Freshman center Kenny Kadji has scored in double figures three of the last four games.
Nick Calathes has averaged 23 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in the last six games. He's had two double-doubles in that time.
Chandler Parsons is again struggling with his shot, making just 2-of-20 behind the arc in the last five games.
Erving Walker is averaging 11.5 points in the last four games.
Dan Werner has scored just 23 points in the last four games (5.8), just over half his 10.5 average in the first 14 games.
Florida is one of just three teams to start out 3-0 in conference play. Kentucky and Mississippi State are also flawless after three games. Georgia and Arkansas, on the other hand have lost all three of their SEC contests.
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