Gators Need Some Hog Heaven

It would be an overstatement to call Thursday night's game at Arkansas a "must win" for the Gators. However, that does diminish the importance of the contest for Florida's post-season hopes. With a ranking of 49 from and a much higher number in the RPI, the Gators need every win they can get in order to avoid a third straight trip to the NIT on the heels of NCAA Titles in ‘06 and '07.

Arkansas has struggled to this point of the season and come into the game with an 8-9 record and a 1-1 mark in the SEC. The Razorbacks have gotten a lift from the return of Courtney Fortson who had 12 points and 10 rebounds in their win over Alabama. That was one of three double-doubles the Hogs got that night along with forwards Marshawn Powell (18/10) and Mike Washington (17/13) who dominated up front.

The Gators also have to concerned about sharp shooting Rotnei Clark who is second in the SEC in scoring (18.4) and leads in 3-point field goals made (3.8) and 3-point percentage (48.8).

The Razorbacks have lost 10 of the last 15 meetings with the Gators but have won the last two games played in Fayetteville. This is a game that Arkansas coach John Pelphrey might really need. There are a lot of grumblings that the folks in Hog Country are not to happy with the former Gator assistant. Pelphrey is now 45-38 in his third season on the Razorbacks bench. The Hogs are trying to bounce back from a 14-16 season last year that included just two wins in 16 SEC games.

Earlier this week Gator coach Billy Donovan offered up his thoughts on the game and the Gators readying for their first experience with a Thursday game followed by one on Saturday.


On the pros and cons of playing Thursday and Saturday this week:

"Going into Fayetteville on Thursday, we get an extra day to prepare this week, but on the back end, we'll probably get hurt going into our game with South Carolina Saturday. Hopefully we can really utilize the next three days. This should be the first time this season our entire team will be in relatively good health.

On Arkansas being better than their 8-9 record might indicate:

Arkansas is a team that didn't start the year hot due to some suspensions, but really out of Christmas break, their last three games, is the first time they've had their entire team together. Having (Courtney) Fortson back at the point guard position really frees up Rotnei Clarke, who I think is one of the best shooters in the country. They've got great play from Marshawn Powell, the freshman. He had 21 points in the second half, 25 for the game against Mississippi State their first SEC road game. Michael Washington is a great front court player."

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