Florida head coach Mike White watches his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, March 9, 2019. Kentucky won 66-57. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Game Preview: Gators face first road test in Connecticut

The Florida Gator men’s basketball team travels to take on the Connecticut Huskies on Sunday

Florida is fresh off of a win against Towson 66-60, bringing their record to 2-1.

UConn fell to Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 13, 96-87. The Huskies have a record of 1-1.

Scouting report

The Gators face a quick turnaround, having an away game in Connecticut three days after a home game against Towson.

After the win against the Tigers, Gators head coach Mike White spoke briefly about the challenges of traveling and what it means to play UConn.

Sticking to that gameplan is essential, according to White. Someone who is undoubtedly on that plan is UConn’s Christian Vital

Vital leads the Huskies in scoring and rebounds, averaging 21.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Vital’s double-double average is something shared by Gators graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr.

Against Saint Josephs, UConn shot 34.9 percent from the field but shot 48.3 percent from three-point range. This is contrary to Florida, who found their shot from inside against Towson but struggled to hit open three-point shots.

UConn averages 12 turnovers per game, which is slightly more than Florida’s 11.3 turnovers per game. One of the deciding factors in Florida’s games this season has been playing strong defense on the perimeter and creating turnovers. If the Gators can win the turnover battle they will be in a good position to take this game.

Florida currently ranks 327th in the country in points per game, but 77th in points allowed. UConn ranks 26th in points per game, which is slightly higher than Florida.

UConn has found a way to score consistently in their two games this season. If Florida wants to leave Connecticut with a win, they need better defensive play out of their guards.

Keys to the game

Slowing down Vital and the UConn guards offensively will be the deciding factor of the game. If the Huskies start making shots during one of the Gators’ cold streaks, they could run away with the game.

For Florida, not going cold from the field is something Coach White would like to see out of his squad. So far this season Florida has had streaks of four-plus minutes where they do not score, which opens the door for opponents to come back and take the lead.

Working inside to outside is likely what Coach White is trying to implement to jump-start his offense. Look for Blackshear Jr. to kick out inside looks off of double teams to open shooters.


Tip-off for Sunday’s game is at 3 p.m. on ESPN.

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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