Payback could be on the menu today in Gainesville. Consider this: Jan. 13 in Columbia they put an 84-50 beat-down on South Carolina, which also beat the Gators twice last year. If the opportunity arises Florida is likely to put a similar hurting on Tennessee before a sellout crowd of blood-thirsty fans at the O'Connell Center.
The top-ranked Gators (20-2 overall, 7-0 in SEC play) appear capable of inflicting a frightful beating on the reeling Vols (15-7, 3-4), who have lost five of seven games – and star player Chris Lofton – after a 13-2 start. Still slowed by a sprained ankle, Lofton is doubtful for today's game.
In addition to the home-court advantage, the individual match-ups overwhelmingly favor Florida.
In the post the Gators start 6-10, 245-pound junior Al Horford, who averages 12.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He leads the SEC in field goal percentage at 64.6. Tennessee will answer with 6-9, 240-pound freshman Wayne Chism. He averages 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds, while hitting 42.2 percent from the floor.
At power forward Florida starts 6-11, 230-pound junior All-American Joakim Noah (12.9 points, 8.4 rebounds). He was projected as the No. 1 pick had he entered the NBA Draft last June. Tennessee counters with 6-4, 205-pound senior Dane Bradshaw (6.6, 4.1).
At small forward Florida starts 6-9, 185-pound junior Corey Brewer, who averages 12.5 points per game and might be the SEC's most versatile player. Tennessee answers with 6-2, 196-pound junior JaJuan Smith (15.7 ppg).
At shooting guard Florida starts 6-2, 192-pound senior Lee Humphrey, who averages 10.9 points per game and leads the SEC in 3-point accuracy at 49.3 percent. Tennessee counters with 6-4 freshman Josh Tabb, who averages 3.5 points and shoots 34.3 percent from beyond the arc.
At point guard the Gators start 6-0, 188-pound junior Taurean Green, a preseason All-SEC pick who averages 13.6 points and 3.9 assists per game. Tennessee answers with 6-2, 185-pound freshman Ramar Smith, who averages 10.0 points and 3.1 assists.
Lincoln Financial Services will televise today's game, which tips off at 3 p.m. Tennessee returns home to host LSU Tuesday at 9 in a game that will be televised by ESPN.