Dec 21, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan in the second half of a game against Fresno State Bulldogs at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA Today Sports

Florida vs. Savannah State: Gators Return Home to Face Underdog Tigers


Dec 21, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan in the second half of a game against Fresno State Bulldogs at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA Today Sports

#13 Florida (9-2) will return to the friendly confines of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville for their final game of 2013 against the Savannah State Tigers (2-10) today. The Gators have been on the road during the holiday season, defeating #15 Memphis (which brought their record against ranked teams to 2-2) and Fresno State in neutral site games.

Savannah State will most likely be a little different than Florida’s other competition thus far. The Tigers hold the worst record of the opponents the Gators have played this season, with their two wins coming against Tennessee Temple and Florida National. However, they gave Florida some trouble during their meeting last season. Although the Gators came out on top 58-40, that point total turned out to be UF’s second-lowest output of the year.

Also, in recent seasons, Florida has struggled in games both immediately before and immediately after Christmas. Exactly two years ago, the then-10-2 Gators traveled to New Jersey to take on a 7-5 Rutgers squad and ended up losing in overtime 85-83. There is a possibility that the Tigers could force them to repeat history.

Still, Florida clearly holds the advantage. The Gators have won the first two match-ups with the Tigers and have yet to lose to a MEAC opponent, boasting a 24-0 all-time record against teams currently in the conference. Also, none of the Tigers’ probable starters currently average over six points or three rebounds a game. Senior forward Will Yeguete is the lone Gator starter to have less points per game (5.0). UF does not have any problems with rebounds.

A storyline to watch for this game is senior center Patric Young, who is just 12 points away from becoming the 50th member of the 1,000-point club at Florida. Against the Tigers, he has a reasonable shot to reach that milestone, plus he has been averaging 10 points a game already.

Florida will likely start Yeguete, Young, senior forward Casey Prather, senior guard Scottie Wilbekin and sophomore guard Michael Frazier II. Savannah State’s probable starters include freshman forward Saadiq Muhammad, junior forward Hikeem Champaigne, freshman guards Alante Fenner and Whitley Carter and junior guard Terel Hall.

Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. Catch the game through FSN / Sun Sports or on the radio through Gator IMG Sports Network (Sirius 91, XM 91).

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Tags: Florida Gators