Gators Ready for Gamecocks in a Hurry

Florida doesn't get much time to enjoy its 71-66 win over Arkansas. The Gators spent the night in Fayetteville, flew back to Gainesville Friday and will host South Carolina Saturday in the O'Dome.

This is the first of three Thursday/Saturday weeks on the Gator schedule as the SEC accommodates its new television partners. Scheduling like this is similar to what schools face in the NCAA Tournament, but with travel added between the contests. It certainly provides an advantage for Carolina which played at home on Wednesday, but it's hard to say how much it will matter.

Carolina comes into the game at 11-7, 2-2 in the SEC. they have wins over Auburn and LSU but lost to Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. If you like looking at comparable scores, Florida was five points better against LSU and each team played the Tigers at home. The Gators were two points better than South Carolina against Vandy and the Gators played that game on the road while Carolina had the home court advantage.

The Gamecocks were expected to be solid NCAA contenders this year, but a season ending injury to Dominique Archie and the dismissal of Michael Holmes have left the ‘Cocks shy in the front court. However they still have the top scorer in the SEC in Devan Downey.

The senior guard scored 25 points in South Carolina's 66-57 loss in Oxford and is averaging just over 30 in SEC games. He's extremely quick and can also hurt you from three point range. Downey is also good for four assists and three steals a night.

Carolina needs more from the rest of the roster. Brandis Raly-Ross (10.3) is the second leading scorer now, followed by Sam Muldrow (9.4), Ramon Galloway (8.2) and Lakeem Jackson (7.4). On the year they are minus-5 rebounds a game in SEC play and that may play well for the Gators who are coming off a plus-13 rebound performance at Arkansas. Florida has to be careful about taking care of the basketball because South Carolina is a solid plus-4 in turnovers differential against SEC teams.

The Gators have won six of the last seven meetings with the Gamecocks, but the one loss was devastating. Florida lost up in Columbia 70-69 last season when missed free throws and a mind-numbing defensive breakdown combined to cost the Gators a win. That loss may well have made the difference in Florida getting an NCAA bid instead of having to settle for a second straight NIT trip. Florida won the rematch in Gainesville 97-93. Downey scored 53 points in the two contests. Chandler Parsons helped the Gator cause with 28 points and 19 rebounds. Alex Tyus added 19 and Erving Walker scored 18 in the Gainesville game.

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