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Previewing the Gators

Tomorrow night, Kentucky will put their 5-game win streak on the line when they take on 7th ranked Florida. This series hasn’t been kind to Billy Donovan’s Gators in recent seasons as Kentucky has taken 7 of the past 8 match-ups. While Kentucky holds the recent edge, this season appears to be a different story. Florida enters tomorrow night’s contest with a 19-3 overall record and only one loss in SEC play. Those records are not inflated due to weak competition either; the Gators are ranked 2nd in Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings and also find themselves in 1st place in Ken Pomeroy’s Ratings by a significant margin. Tomorrow’s game, on paper, appears to be the Wildcats’ toughest game thus far, but with the risk of losing comes the reward of victory.  If Calipari and his squad can march down to Gainesville and earn a victory, the Cats will see a massive boost to their NCAA Tournament résumé. Easier said then done, though.

Florida’s offense is ranked 3rd nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency according to Kenpom.com, and they’ve been able to accomplish this with tremendous balance.  Currently, the Gators have four players who are averaging over 10-points per game, while one other is hovering at 9.3. The numbers indicate that all players are equally important to the Gators, but the offense starts with 6-foot-2 inch senior, Kenny Boynton.

On the season, Boynton is averaging 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. While those numbers are excellent, his percentages are even more impressive. Currently, he’s connecting on 33.6% of threes, 53% of twos, and 83% of his free throw attempts.  Also, in what seems to be a trend for Kentucky’s recent opponents, Boynton is among the nation’s best in drawing fouls while staying out of foul trouble himself. He currently draws 3.4 fouls per-40 minutes while only being whistled for 1.1 per-40.  If Kentucky plans on pulling the upset tomorrow, our guards must stick to Boynton on defense.

As a team, the Florida offense revolves around two things; perimeter shooting and offensive rebounding. Billy Donovan’s squads have built a reputation on their perimeter prowess over the years, and this year is no different.  Currently, the Gators are connecting on 38.8% of perimeter attempts, placing them 22nd nationally.  The biggest threats from beyond the arc are 6-foot-10 Erik Murphy and 6-foot-4 Michael Frazier who connect on 49% and 47% of attempts respectively. Additionally, four other players are sinking over 33% of three point attempts.  Knowing this, it’ll take a complete team effort in shutting down Florida’s sharpshooters.  The other important aspect of the Gator offense is offensive rebounding. Donovan’s squad currently ranks 50th nationally in offensive rebound percentage, pulling down 36.3% of misses.  This is primarily accomplished by the 6-foot-7, 250 pound monster, Patric Young, who takes down 2.7 per game.  Not only does he obtain 13.6% (62nd nationally) of team misses, but as a result, he’s able to connect on 61.4% of his twos. Even when the Gators aren’t connecting from deep, Young will be there to clean up the mess.

 

Florida’s defense hasn’t exactly been excellent in recent years.  In fact, it has been remarkably average since Joakim Noah and company departed in 2007.  But that’s not the case this season. The Gators are ranked 2nd in adjusted defensive efficiency according to Kenpom.com, their highest ranking ever in that category. Much like their offense, it’s balance that allows Florida to be so efficient.  While they’re certainly balanced, their defense starts with the muscle inside.  Patric Young and Erik Murphy are the leading shot blockers at 1.7 and .7 per game respectively, but don’t let those low numbers fool you. Their raw numbers are affected by their “low” minute totals (both average 26 minutes per game). When considering block percentage, a stat that measures time played, blocks, and opponent shot attempts, Young swats 7.7% of opponent twos (79th nationally) and Murphy rejects 3.3% (389th).  The length these two provide forces Florida’s opponents to shoot a minuscule 39.8% from the interior (2nd nationally).  Unlike recent seasons, the Gators are turning opponents over at a high rate. As it currently stands, Florida has three players averaging over one steal per game, with three others hovering around that threshold.  Because of this, they rank 33rd nationally in turnover percentage. Given Kentucky’s recent turnover woes, Florida’s activeness on defense may prove problematic.

 

It’s anyone’s guess as to which Kentucky team shows up tomorrow.  Will it be the team who blasted Ole Miss, the team who went ice cold against Alabama, or some other variation? While tomorrow’s game is arguably the most difficult of the season, don’t forget that one of Florida’s best defenders, Will Yeguete, is out for the remainder of the regular season with a knee injury. The 6-foot-7 forward may have only averaged 6 points, but he pulled down 6.3 rebounds and forced over one steal per game. This was crutial to their interior defense.  Even though the Gators are without Yeguete, they’re still an elite level team. Given this, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Kentucky can pull of the road upset over an 11-point favorite.

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

20 Comments for Previewing the Gators



  1. Blue Shades OFF
    9:37 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    In my honest opinion, I bet this team gets blown out tomorrow..they atmosphere will be too much for them. Predicting a ton of turnovers, missed FT’s, missed layups and not much scoring. Gators by 20.



  2. Bobbum man
    9:41 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Guess you had to do the preview today cause tommorow instead of talking about the big game we have we’ll be reading about the freakin bachelor and whatever other gayness Fleener will write about



  3. cal's right hand
    9:43 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Cats get it to overtime and then lose by 4.



  4. Tdog
    10:01 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Cats win!



  5. Rod Strickland's Secret Smile
    10:05 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Florida’s been a great team all year. I’m afraid that the most likely result is that UK will, as against Duke and Louisville, play them pretty close but come up a little short. But as the Gators showed against Arkansas, a lot depends on whether they’re hot from three. They were cold against the hogs and got spanked worse than the final score showed.

    The other major factor is whether Harrow, Goodwin, and Polson show up, especially on defense. If UK puts in the kind of defensive performance they showed in Oxford, Mississippi, this game will be close. And if our guards are getting lost on screens and breaking down when Florida drives, we may end up down 20 at some point again.

    Missouri won’t scare anybody until they can win at least one SEC road game. Florida’s the only impressive team left on UK’s schedule. We get two shots at them. I feel good about tomorrow. Cats 68, Gators 64.



  6. Marvb
    10:05 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Whatever. It’s a nice story to help soften the blow. And, we could win. If Florida sweeps us and wins the SEC, I hope they win the title. I think we have a good shot at splitting with them. Tomorrow could be ugly.



  7. Jpo
    10:08 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Boynton is STILL there?? Good lord. Also I love the bachelor posts!! Freakin hilarious



  8. Guest
    10:08 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    #2 – Don’t hurt Aaron’s equipmonk.



  9. tdr76
    10:18 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Play good hard nose man-to-man, and don’t allow open three point shots, rebound the ball, no turnovers. If we do that we just might have a chance. I will be there to cheer the CAT’s on.



  10. Some Guy in Kentucky
    10:26 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    ESPN classic is showing the UK-Florida game at Florida from 2011 at 1pm-3pm est tuesday. They are also showing the March 2012 game at UK at 5pm-7pm est tuesday.



  11. Thanks
    10:32 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    I appreciate that ksr rightfully brings us news in the most ridiculous manner possible, but it’s nice to get an old fashioned game preview every now and then. Would be nice to throw in some wildcat reference stats when dealing with numbers so there’s no need to look it up separately. But the posts are solid and worth taking the time to read.



  12. Catlogic15
    10:52 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    L1C4.. I read that 98 year old Bremer Ehlrer, longtime Jefferson County Clerk, passed away while watching the UL-ND game with family, per the Louisville Courier-Journal.

    I say it was Russ’ 35 footer with 9 seconds on the shot clock that did him.

    Anybody else have a guess?



  13. Cats
    11:22 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Why has no one brought up the fact Florida has not played one team that is good defensively. Sorry but I think UK wins this. People need to stop saying “in order for UK to have a chance to win this”. Come on, Florida lost to freaking Arkansas, they are an old slow three point reliant team who has had a cake schedule. Cats got this.



  14. beast mode
    11:39 pm February 11, 2013 Permalink

    Nerlens will go beast mode tomorrow night guys. Shot blocker like that changes the game. Not to mention, cauley stein is back. Gators better get there floater game right. Go cats!!!



  15. Rae
    12:08 am February 12, 2013 Permalink

    We end up down a lot (say 15) late in the first half. Then, we start to pull a comeback, just like against Duke and UL. Only maybe this time we time the comeback so we don’t “run out of time.” Neither team wins by more than 5. Cats have a better shot on the road, I think, than at home. Their most impressive performances were on the road, and I include the UL loss in that given the difficulty of a comeback.



  16. Donald
    6:47 am February 12, 2013 Permalink

    We are gonna get slaughtered. Lol



  17. RealCatsFan
    7:31 am February 12, 2013 Permalink

    13, are you saying that the Cats ARE a good defensive team? I wish I could argue that we are, but aside from Nerlens, we are lacking in that department.

    That being said, I’m not as worried about the Cats possibly being blown out for this game as I was for Ole Miss. This team has weathered a number of hostile environments, including Ole Miss, so I think they will be OK at the O-Dome. I would not be surprised if they fall behind by double digits early in the game, but think they will battle back to make it close down the stretch. If they can do that, anything can happen. UF is a great team this year, but Arkansas showed that they are beatable – just like all of the teams in the NCAA this year. Here’s hoping that the Cats will all bring their A-games and sneak out of Gainesville with a W!



  18. Rixter
    8:57 am February 12, 2013 Permalink

    I’ll never forget the shot Boynton hit over Rajon Rondo to win the game in Gainesville in 2005…. Tubby thought he traveled before the shot…



  19. Mc
    11:36 am February 12, 2013 Permalink

    #13-Do you consider Wisconsin a good defensive team or just a typical unathletic tempo controlling team from the big 10?



  20. Bill Taylor
    11:30 pm February 12, 2013 Permalink

    It appears UK learned how to pass at Florida but they did not l,earn how to attack the basket to try to score. Looking bad.
    Bill Taylor