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Gators forward Keyontae Johnson
Gators' Forward Keyontae Johnson celebrates during a game against No. 18 Xavier on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2019. (Credit @GatorsMBK on Twitter.)

Gators Men’s Basketball hosts Marshall in Black Friday Matchup

The Florida Gators Men’s Basketball team will look to burn off their Thanksgiving turkey on Friday against Marshall.

The Gators return to Gainesville as Charleston Classic tournament champions and are riding a three-game win streak coming into Friday’s game.

After their win against No. 18 Xavier, the Gators re-entered the Associated Press Top 25 rankings at No. 24. Florida aims to keep its momentum going against Marshall, a 2-3 team.

Upward trajectory

According to Florida guard Andrew Nembhard, the Charleston Classic is just what his team needed.

“I feel like that week from UConn to the end of Charleston was a big jump for us,” Nembhard said. “I think we got a long way to go but I think it was really good for us kinda coming more together and play well as a team.”

Building upon the success of the Charleston Classic is something that the Gators must do. Being able to consistently dominate games as they did for their last three will prove to voters that Florida deserved their No. 6 ranking to start the season.

Gators’ forward Keyontae Johnson understands the importance of Friday’s game.

“I think Friday will be a big test for us to see how we managed our win this past tournament,” Johnson said. “I feel like if we just keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be just fine.”

Johnson won the tournament MVP award at the Charleston Classic. He stepped up when Kerry Blackshear Jr. was ejected against St. Joseph’s and provided points when the team needed it most.

Keys to the game

According to Gators’ head coach Mike White, one of the keys to winning against Marshall is limiting their fast-break opportunities.

“Marshall, we got to defend really well, really early,” White said. “Their tempo is really, really fast. They really space you. They are good on the offensive glass”

For the Gators, their fast-break points were the bread and butter of a high scoring performance against Xavier. The team scored 9 points on the fast break and converted 22 points off of turnovers.

The Gators’ ability to limit their turnovers and create even more will be the difference-maker against Marshall. Florida’s tenacity on defense sparked their offense en route to three straight wins and changing the narrative of the team this season.

Coverage

Tip-off is at 9 p.m. on Friday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

TV Coverage is on the SEC Network.

About Steven Walker

Steven Walker is a beat writer for ESPN Gainesville and is currently studying Journalism & Sports Media at the University of Florida.

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