The Florida Gators up-and-down season continued on Saturday night as they dropped their SEC home opener against South Carolina in dramatic fashion. The Gators will now be heading to Fayetteville to take on the 10-3 Arkansas Razorbacks, who won their SEC opener against Texas A&M.
What To Expect From Arkansas?
The Razorbacks are led by sophomore center Daniel Gafford, who is putting up 17.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Freshman Isaiah Joe (15.5 points per game), sophomore Mason Jones (13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game) and freshman point guard Jalen Harris (9.5 points, 6.8 assists per game) help round out Mike Anderson’s squad.
The Razorbacks rank in the top-70 in offensive (68th) and defensive (54th) efficiency. They also rank 5th in the country in block percentage.
With 6’11” Daniel Gafford manning the paint, it’s very difficult for teams to attack the basket. This paint presence has allowed them to be elite defending the three-point line, ultimately limiting opponents to 29.7% from beyond the arc, which ranks 32nd in the country.
The Arkansas defense could have a field day against a Gator team that struggles to score with consistency.
Matt Zimmerman, who is the Director of Basketball Operations and color analyst for the Razorback Sports Network, mentioned that even though Gafford has grown offensively from his freshman to sophomore year, he is still most comfortable around the basket.
The Gators have struggled mightily with consistency this season. Head coach Mike White voiced his displeasure at a media availability session on Tuesday morning.
Mike White didn't hold back in today's press conference #Gators pic.twitter.com/dpKt8zZcT4
— Zach Oliveri (@Zach_Oliveri) January 8, 2019
Much of the inconsistency that White has mentioned comes from the offensive side of the ball. Seniors KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson have taken a step back this year. There have been multiple times this season where the Gators have went five or six minutes without a basket.
Freshman Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard have been the lone bright spots offensively. Locke has scored 12 or more points in four straight games and continues to shoot the ball with unbelievable efficiency. Nembhard ranks 4th in the SEC in assists and continues to play beyond his years.
Even though White craves consistency, the one thing the Gators have been consistent in all year is defense. According to Kenpom.com, the Gators rank 9th in the country in defensive efficiency. They also rank 6th in turnover percentage and 10th in steal percentage.
Matt Zimmerman pointed out how elite the Gators are defensively.
With both teams being dominant on the defensive side of the ball, it should be a low scoring affair.
When and Where?
The game will be played on Wednesday, January 9th at 8:30 p.m. in Arkansas. It will be aired on SEC Network and can be heard on Gator IMG Sports Network.