The Florida Gators fresh off a huge nationally televised victory over #22 Wisconsin return to action today in Tampa versus the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The Blue Raiders come into today’s game 2-0 after beating Savannah State 58-55. They beat Alabama State, who Florida beat 84-35, in their season opener 97-53. This is the first ever meeting between the two schools.
Florida had a dominating performance against Wisconsin beating them 74-56 where they got out to a quick start and never let off the gas pedal. The Badgers focused on denying center Patric Young the entry pass hoping to keep the Gators from easy post points but that opened up Erik Murphy, who was expected to sit out due to effects from the flu, to have a monster game finishing with a career high 24 points.
Starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin who had been suspended by Billy Donovan has been reinstated and is expected to play but will not start. In his place, Kenny Boynton will start again at point guard with Mike Rosario once again filling the shooting guard slot and athletic forward Will Yeguette opening at small forward.
Rosario, who has lived in Billy Donovan’s doghouse for the two seasons he’s been in Gainesville, played the best game of his career finishing with 15 points and 4 rebounds. The Gators, who are heavy favorites against the Blue Raiders, are seeking to take better care of the ball than they did against Wisconsin. They had 20 turnovers in that one, the lone negative in a game where they did just about everything else right.
The Blue Raiders are led by Marcos Knight a 6’2″ senior guard who scored a game high and career high 21 points against Savannah State adding seven rebounds and a couple of steals. He was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line in that one. Jason Jones a 6’6″ 206 lb senior f/g, who led the Blue Raiders in scoring as a sophomore with a 13.7 per game average, was the leading scorer in the opener against Alabama State with 19 points.
Junior college transfer point guard Tweety Knight had 5 assists in the last game and junior forward Neiko Hunter played well off the bench with 9 points, three rebounds, two assists, and one blocked shot.
The Blue Raiders come in averaging 77 points per game and 55 points defensively. MTSU was unanimously picked to win the Sun Belt Conference Eastern Division in preseason balloting by the league’s head coaches and have received votes in this weeks USA Today Coaches Poll. They placed 4 players on the preseason Sun Belt All-Conference team with Knight landing on the first team.
Tipoff for today’s game from the Tampa Bay Times Forum is 4 pm eastern and will be televised on Sun/FoxSports South. Play by play will come from Larry Vettel with analysis from Mark Wise.