Alabama's bench cheers during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Alabama faces tough road test against Florida

Florida men’s basketball team has the opportunity to knock off a SEC powerhouse in Alabama as they look to start conference play Wednesday night. The Gators host the No.15 ranked Crimson Tide (10-3, 1-0 SEC) at home in the Exactech Arena.

For the Tide, they continued to travel to Gainesville and is expected to compete as COVID cases spiked throughout the country forcing programs around the conference to postpone games.

Head Coach Mike White and the Gators (9-3, 0-0 SEC) were scheduled to face off against Ole Miss to start off conference competition last week. However, COVID issues circulating around the team. Florida were unable to present enough players to compete. In result, the game was cancelled looking towards a later date to resume play.

For Florida, this marks their first time on the floor since the 87-62 victory over Stony Brook on Dec. 22. Rust may become a factor for the Orange and Blue as they try to get back to 100 percent.

White recently mentioned the long layoff and managing the absence of key players.

However, the Crimson Tide will not take pity on the Gators as they too have faced with COVID issues. Entering Wednesday’s matchup with a 10-3 record, Alabama has had their share of impressive wins.

Bama A Tough Test For Florida

So far, Head Coach Nate Oats and the Crimson Tide have wins over three teams ranked in the top 15. Including, two in non-conference competition. Former Alabama point guard and now Crimson Tide Sports Network Analyst Bryan Passink says the team has navigated through the tough pretty well so far.

The Tide arguably played their best game of the year after an eye-opener victory over preseason top-ranked team in Gonzaga. Afterwards, they managed to squeak past a one-point win over now No.12 ranked Houston team at home.

Unfortunately, Alabama has had some slip-ups dropping games to Iona, Memphis, and Davidson so far. Defensively, Passink believes they are notch below from last years team but have the potential to improve as the season progresses.

It does seems Oats and the Tide figured things out just in time as they head into conference play.

They opened with a 73-68 home win over the No.14 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Lead by graduate transfer Noah Gurley, a 16-5 run over the final 6:02 helped catapult Oats to his first conference win of the season.

Gurley, who had his best game of the year scoring 20 points and 10 rebounds. Also, junior guard Jahvon Quinerly pitched in with 18 points.

The Gators will have their hands full guarding the perimeter in Wednesday’s matchup as Passink raves about the athleticism and speed of the Alabama guards.

Alabama looks to continue the momentum on the road in the O’Connell Center looking to knock off White and the Gators. Tip off is set at 7 p.m.

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