Saturday, February 13, 2016

Game Preview - at Florida

It's been a big week for Bama Hoops. The team notched their fourth win over a top 25 opponent on Wednesday when they defeated 15th ranked Texas A&M 63-62. Those four wins over top 25 opponents leads the conference. In the aftermath of that win, Alabama is being mentioned by prominent "bracketologists", Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm. The fact that we're even talking about this team and the NCAA Tournament on February 12th is a testament to these players and this coaching staff.

Unfortunately, the conference schedule cares nothing about these happy things. As proof, Alabama must now return to the unforgiving road for back-to-back games at Florida and LSU. The Gators have been a royal pain in the butt for Alabama in basketball, with a current 11-game win streak and 23 of the last 28. It's time for Alabama to get some wins in this series. Easier said than done as Florida, coming off a losing season in 2014-15, look to be on track for a return trip to the NCAA tournament in Mike White's first season as head coach. Game time is 4:30 (CT), with the SEC Network handling the television coverage.



67.8 PPG 74.5
67.6 OPP 66.7
.427 FG% .430
.404 OPP .398
50.0 EFG% 49.0
46.2 OPP 45.3
.333 3PT% .328
.330 OPP .329
.653 FT% .646
.683 OPP .673
40.5 FTRATE 40.0
38.9 OPP 35.5
35.4 RPG 40.3
37.3 OPP 37.5
29.3 OREB% 33.8
33.2 OPP 29.7
14.2 TOPG 11.9
12.9 OPP 13.6
20.9 TO% 16.9
19.0 OPP 19.3

This is a very balanced Florida team. Dorian Finney-Smith (Sr. 6'8, 220 lbs) is having an All-SEC campaign in his final season in Gainesville. Smith enters this game with an impressive stat line of 15.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 41% 3-pt and 73% FT. John Egbunu (So. 6'11, 255 lbs) has been a positive addition to this Florida team after transferring from South Florida with averages of 10.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg and a physical presence inside that the Gators lacked last season.

The biggest difference in this Florida team this season vs last season is the guard play. They're not flashy, but KeVaughn Allen (11.6 ppg, 1.2 spg), Kasey Hill (8.3 ppg, 3.0 apg, 1.3 spg) and Chris Chiozza (7.2 ppg, 4.6 apg, 1.0 spg) have all been solid for this team. Chiozza in particular is a criminally underrated player. X-factors for this Florida team are Devin Robinson (9.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Justin Leon (4.7 ppg, 47% 3-pt).

Avery Johnson has been understandably reticent to discuss the NCAA Tournament or the "bubble", but opportunities abound for this Alabama team to make a real case for an NCAA bid. With their non-conference resume, RPI and strength of schedule, if they can get to 18 or more wins they will have a strong chance to make the field. A win in Gainesville would be a great start. However it ends, enjoy this team and the remainder of this season; it's been a joy to watch. 

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