Fresh off a bounce-back victory over Southeastern Louisiana, the Florida Gators travel to Kansas City to take on the Kansas State Wildcats at the Sprint Center on Saturday night. The Gators continue their task of playing a “national” pre-conference schedule. After taking on Big East, Big 10, ACC, PAC 12, Conference USA, and Sunbelt Conference foes, they head to Big 12 country tonight to take on the Wildcats.
Kansas State is led by guard Rodney McGruder who is averaging 13.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2 assists per game and Angel Rodriguez who is averaging 10.7 points and 4.4 assists per game. The Wildcats feature a “small” three guard lineup similar to what the Gators do when Patric Young is on the bench. Surprisingly, Kansas State, who has only two players over 6-8, is a good rebounding team and are currently 18th in the nation averaging 42 rebounds per game led by 6-7 270 forward Thomas Gipson. Florida is right there with them, though, averaging 43 rebounds per game and they are currently 10th in the nation in rebounding margin.
The Gators rebounded well in their last game after suffering their first loss of the season to the Arizona Wildcats in a heartbreaker. They came out swinging against an over-matched Southeastern Louisiana team and never let up. Expect more of the same in this game. Senior guard Mike Rosario has been leading the team the last few weeks as his game has become more consistent. His scoring has improved as his turnovers have gone down. Leading scorer Kenny Boynton has been in a shooting slump of late but has found other ways to help with assists, rebounding, and free throw shooting. Patric Young and Erik Murphy have continued their stellar play in the post with improved rebounding and inside scoring and should prove to be a tough match-up for the smaller Wildcats.
Two other guys who have helped considerably off the bench are Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Michael Frazier. Wilbekin provides his usual high energy plays particularly on the defensive end and Frazier has been a sharp shooter of late. Wilbekin and Will Yeguete are very active defensively forcing turnovers and disrupting shots.
Defensively, the Gators are ranked third in the nation averaging 50 opponent points per game and as a result are 8th in scoring margin at 22 points per game.
The Wildcats have played well in the early season but their only two games against ranked opponents were big margin defeats to #2 Michigan and #14 Gonzaga. The Gators face another tough road test but have handled the road well. The only road slip up was the Arizona game where the Gators led throughout until the last seven seconds due to difficulties inbounding the ball.
Tip off for tonight’s game is 8 pm eastern time and will be broadcast on ESPN2.