Florida plays their first game since losing freshman PG Kasey Hill tonight as they host the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at 7:30 pm. You can see the game live on SunSports if you live in Florida, or WatchESPN if you don’t live in an SEC state. Otherwise the game can be found on GatorVision for premium account holders. And if worse-comes-to-worse, you can always listen to the live radio broadcast on 103.7 The Gator by listening to Mick Hubert and Mark Wise online.
The Gators come into the game ranked 14th in the nation, but extremely shorthanded. Freshman PG Kasey Hill will be out at least one month with a high ankle sprain and PG Scottie Wilbekin remains suspended for a violation of team rules. That leaves Florida win no available point guards. So the Gators will have to get creative. SG Michael Frazier II, SG/SF DeVon Walker, PF Dorian Finney-Smith, and SG Eli Carter will get the reps at the point. You may be surprised seeing the 6’8″ Finney-Smith on the list, but the idea goes back to when Chandler Parsons was the point forward for the Gators in many games during his career.
Florida comes into the game with a record of 3-1, winning two straight games. Their lone loss on the season comes to the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison. The Gators took care of the Southern Jaguars 67-53. Florida struggled to get any ball movement when Hill went down with 18:00 minutes left to play in the second half. DeVon Walker had a career-high 10 points trying to replace Hill. Besides that, no other Gator scored more than 12 points.
Middle Tennessee State remains perfect on the season after a 76-59 win against Arkansas-Little Rock. In fact, the Blue Raiders have faced three common foes with the Gators: Southern, UALR, and North Florida. MTSU won all three games and comes into the O’Dome with a nation’s best eight game road winning streak. Kerry Hammonds II and Shawn Jones average over 16 points per game and will be the focus of the Gator defense. Middle Tennessee State plays a 1-3-1 zone, which Florida had a lot of trouble with last season when they met.
Florida and Middle Tennessee State met last season on November 18th. The Gators beat the Blue Raiders 66-45 in Tampa. Will Yeguette scored 11 points with 13 rebounds for a double-double. Florida is 7-4 all-time against teams from the Sun Belt Conference and 7-1 under Billy Donovan.
Florida will try to keep their 18 game home winning streak intact as Middle Tennessee State brings in the nation’s longest road win streak at eight. It will be interesting to see who handles the ball the best at the point position for Florida and how the Gators deal with the 1-3-1 Blue Raider zone.
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