UF/South Carolina Scouting Report

Florida's second SEC road trip will give them their first look at an Eastern division opponent this season. It will also be Billy Donovan's first coaching matchup against new South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn. The young Gators will be tested by a team that has a backcourt as gifted as anyone's in the conference, but this is a winnable game.

The Gamecocks are almost literally the same team as they were last season. Only one senior role player moved on and no new talent was added to the roster. While the personnel is the same, the style of play is very different under Horn than it was when Dave Odom strolled the South Carolina sideline. Horn eventually wants to play the same pressing, uptempo style he used in getting Western Kentucky to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAAs last season. Because his players aren't a perfect fit for that brand of basketball, this year's Gamecock team remains a work in progress. The pace of South Carolina games is clearly quicker than in previous years, but there will be times where their tempo will taper off.

The Gamecocks are led by No. 2 Devan Downey. The star point guard gets his 19.6 points a game in a variety of ways. The junior, who was a Cousy Award finalist in 2008, has great quickness and good range on his shot. He's an excellent one on one defender as well, frequently poking the ball loose from his man and initiating a fast break the other way. Downey averages three steals per game, and if the Gators throw lazy passes as they move the ball around the top of the key they will likely pay with a Gamecock layup.

South Carolina has just one senior, No. 20 Zam Fredrick, and the guard's responded very well to the coaching change. Fredrick is averaging 21 points a game in conference play and is shooting the ball with great confidence right now. He's become more involved on the defensive end as well.

The single biggest mystery for South Carolina is what to expect from No. 24 Mike Holmes. The sophomore forward has obvious potential to be a major force on the boards as well as an inside scorer, but has not been meeting expectations in practice. Holmes has sometimes been forced to open the game on the bench this season as Horn tries to motivate him. In three conference games, he's averaging just six points and five rebounds per outing. If UF sees a similarly uninspired effort out of Holmes, who had 16 points and eleven rebounds against them in Gainesville last year, they will likely win.

Billy Donovan called No. 21 Dominique Archie one of the SEC's most underrated players before the season, and the small forward has been making him look smart so far in conference play with double doubles in his past two games. He's undersized for rebounding against a power player, but since UF lacks much of that type of presence Archie's quickness could let him have a big night.

Two South Carolina players are primarily outside threats but can be dangerous when hot. No. 31 Evka Baniulis is hitting 55 percent from three point territory but struggles defensively. No. 5 Brandis Raley-Ross is a better defender but also tends to settle for threes.

The Gamecocks lack great depth, making them susceptible to foul trouble. Archie in particular has gotten into early difficulty by going too aggressively for potential steals and rebounds. South Carolina has been outrebounded in all their conference games, and the lack of production from Holmes has exacerbated that issue. No. 44 Sam Muldrow has recently returned to the court after missing the first two months of the season due to academics and an elbow injury. The sophomore big man could help pick up some of the slack should Holmes continue to falter. Even with Muldrow, the Gamecocks will primarily play eight men in the game.

Florida had largely had their way with South Carolina, winning 14 of the past 16 games between the schools. Tonight's game is Student Appreciation Night in Columbia, complete with the debut of the newly named "Garnet Army" student section. It's doubtful the crowd will be large enough to have a major impact on the game in the cavernous Colonial Life Arena, but the fanbase has been much more enthusiastic in the post-Odom era. The Gamecocks got off to very slow starts and trailed by double figures in each of their last two games, both played on the road. If Florida can get out to an early lead and quiet the potential for an excited crowd, their chances look excellent of improving to 4-0 in SEC play this year.


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