This Saturday, the Florida Gators head into Indianapolis to face the undefeated Butler Bulldogs currently ranked 24th in the country. The Gators are now on a four-game win streak, which began on November 21, visiting the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. Florida will be looking to upset Butler for their first loss of the season and steal a quality win on the road.
Who are the Gators?
After losing to FSU and UConn, the Gators appear to have turned a corner during their last stretch of basketball for November. Their best win of the season came against the 18th ranked Xavier in the Final of the Charleston Classic. The Gators solidified their defensive identity. Against the Musketeers, the Gators displayed strong defensive guard play on the perimeter. In addition, Florida exposed the Xavier defense, which gave up six three-pointers in the first half on 60% shooting.
The Gators have seen a strong play on the offensive end from the undersized starting power forward Keyontae Johnson (15.5 ppg on 55% FG) and point guard Andrew Nembhard. (11.8 ppg on 44 FG%). Freshman five-star recruit Scotty Lewis has struggled on the offensive end all season. However, despite his shortcomings, Lewis is still proving to be a factor for the Gators as a defensive stalwart averaging 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals during eight games this season.
Keys to victory
Against Butler, Florida will have two tough tasks. First, not turning it over a high clip and stopping the relentless penetrating point guard Kamar Baldwin from going berserk. The Gators will be in for a rough afternoon if they can’t prevent Baldwin from getting to the rim at a high volume or closeout on him when he is behind the arc. In the Charleston Classic Semi-Final versus the Hurricanes, the Gators struggled to contain miniature speedster point guard Chris Lykes from getting any look he wanted. Versus the Gators, Lykes couldn’t be stopped from entering the paint at will and collapsing the Florida defense, ending his night with 10 of his 16 points in the paint.
A win against the Bulldogs will be no easy task with all signs pointing to a dogfight. Both teams are defensively minded holding their matchups to inefficient percentages from the field (Gators- 39%, Bulldogs- 40%). Points for either side should come sparsely from beyond the arc. Both of these teams are very good at running shooters off the three-point line. Florida and Butler hold their matchups to a low of 27% from three.
Futhermore, this game will be decided by digging in dominating in the trenches. The winner of this game will win the rebounding, free throw, and turnover battle. Despite the Gator’s recent surge to end November, they will see a better team on Saturday. I have the Bulldogs pulling away 71-66 and remaining undefeated.
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