Florida guard sTre Mann (1) and Noah Locke (10) celebrate after Marshall called a timeout during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

Gators Men’s Hoops Host Missouri in Last Home Game of Season

Florida’s men’s basketball team is searching for a fourth consecutive win when it hosts the Missouri Tigers Wednesday night.

Missouri is on a different trajectory right now. After starting the season strong, the Tigers have lost four of their last five games, all against unranked opponents.

As the SEC tournament draws closer, these two teams are fighting in a close race for the highest seed possible.

Tipoff for Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 6:30.

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Florida’s Keys to Victory

The Gators are playing strong basketball as of late, with Tre Mann playing an instrumental part in that success.

Florida’s offense runs through Mann often, as he averages 14.7 points per game and leads the team with 3.4 assists per game. Mann recently took home SEC Player of the Week honors; head coach Mike White explained his approach to individual awards and how he keeps his players focused after they win awards.

Colin Castleton is another of the Gators’ playmakers whose presence can shift the game in their favor. Castleton’s tall frame provides him some defensive aptitude, as he leads the team with 2.3 blocks per game and also grabs 5.8 rebounds per game. On offense, Castleton’s presence is felt in the paint; he is shooting 60.1 percent from the field and scoring 12.9 points per game this year.

This game figures to be more of a defensive challenge for Florida than offensive, as Missouri has a strong backcourt with an elite big. Coach White acknowledged the challenge against Missouri and praised the intensity they play with.

Playmakers for Missouri

Missouri has a strong roster with a few playmakers, but they have hit a rough patch in recent weeks. They lost two games when forward Jeremiah Tilmon took a leave of absence for personal reasons, and other stars have been struggling to create offense.

Leading the Tigers in rebounds (7.7 per game) and blocks (1.5 per game), Tilmon should command the defensive presence for Missouri while also contributing offensively. He shoots 63.5 percent from the field and adds 12.9 points per game, and is perhaps Missouri’s most dominant and well-rounded player. Gators coach Mike White discussed the strength that Tilmon brings to the Tigers.

Xavier Pinson, who leads the team with 14.0 points per game, was held to just two points in Missouri’s last contest. Though Pinson isn’t very efficient, he is a high-volume player who can shoot well and draw contact. The backcourt duo of Pinson and Dru Smith will present a tough challenge to the Gators.

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