Florida State wants the annual non-conference clash against Florida not to happen until December to separate the basketball game from the football game. But Florida and head coach Billy Donovan supports playing the basketball game the night before the football game. Maybe it’s because the Gators have beaten the Seminoles four straight times and are 11-6 under Donovan.
The 13/15th ranked Gators come into the game with a 5-1 record, losing only at then No. 20 Wisconsin in the second game of the season. Florida dominated Jacksonville University 86-60 their last time out. The Gators have won four straight games and are starting to click on all cylinders by getting players healthy and back from suspensions. Two players back from suspensions have really helped the team. Forward Dorian Finney-Smith came back in their game against Arkansas-Little Rock and guard Scottie Wilbekin came back Monday at Jacksonville. Finney-Smith provides versatility in a player that can stretch the defense, rebound and even control ball handling situations. Wilbekin defends better than any other Gator and is the team’s only true point guard with Kasey Hill out with an injury. Senior forward Casey Prather has been outstanding this year, averaging 19.2 points and shooting 64.6% from the field.
Florida State also comes into Friday’s game with a 5-1 record. The Seminoles last two games have come down to a shot at the buzzer: A loss against the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines in overtime and a win against the Northeastern Huskies in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. FSU beat tenth-ranked VCU to open the tournament. The Noles have a lineup that’s lanky and athletic, a constant in the 12 years head coach Leonard Hamilton has been around. Their defense keeps them in games and gives their streaky shooters a chance to find their groove. The Gators will need to keep their eye on Okaro White on offense and defense. White is second on the team, averaging 14.3 points, and leads FSU in rebounds and blocks, at 7.5 and 1.5 respectively.
Tonight’s game will mark the 65th meeting between the two schools on the hardwood. Florida leads the all-time series 42-22. The Gators’ senior class last year notched four wins and zero losses against the Seminoles in their career. This year’s senior class in Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin, Will Yeguette, and Patric Young want to become the second straight class to go undefeated versus FSU. The game starts at 7:30 pm and can be seen on ESPN2.
Following the Florida State game, the gators have a big matchup with Uconn. For those in the Connecticut area, you can find Florida Gators vs. Uconn Huskies basketball tickets here.
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