The last time Florida (18-13, 9-9) and Arkansas (16-15, 9-9) met, back in a February matchup in Gainesville, Chris Chiozza had arguably his best game of the season. He led the Gators to a 87-83 win over the Razorbacks with a season-high 17 points to go along with 8 assists.
Florida will take on Arkansas again in the second round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville tomorrow. With Florida now on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament, they’re going to need a similarly strong performance from Chiozza, who leads the team in assists, and his fellow teammates throughout SEC Tournament, beginning with Arkansas. A short stint in Nashville, and the Gators will most likely miss out on the big dance.
Florida isn’t just going with hopes of doing well enough to make it to the NCAA Tournament, though. Chiozza says the Gators are coming in with the goal of winning the conference tournament, which would give them an automatic bid to the NCAA’s.
To do that though, they’ll have to beat Arkansas again, which will be no easy task. The Razorbacks come in having won four out of their last 5 games. They lead the SEC in three-point field goal percentage, and are the only team with 3 players in the top-10 in the SEC for scoring.
The Gators and Chiozza are well aware of the Razorbacks’ shooting abilities. Chiozza says the team has to focus their defensive efforts on Arkansas’ shooters and eliminating open shots.
Apart from focusing on Arkansas, the Gators have to worry about themselves as well if they want to make a deep run. They come in having lost four out of their last five. They did win their most recent game, a 82-72 victory at Missouri.
Chiozza says that win was a big confidence booster for the team.
Florida will look to build off the momentum from that game to go on a deep run in the SEC Tournament, in hopes of getting a bid to the big dance.
Live coverage of Florida vs. Arkansas can be found on ESPN Gainesville 95.3 FM at 12:25 p.m.