Florida's Brandon McKissic, left, Tyree Appleby, front center, Anthony Duruji, rear center and Colin Castleton (12) react after losing to Maryland during an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Gators Men’s Basketball Team Hosts No. 12 LSU

Florida Gators Men’s Basketball returns to the O’Dome tonight as they play host to the 12th-ranked Tigers of LSU. A win will give the Gators their 10th of the season and first in conference play.

Florida’s Roller Coaster Season

So far, this season for the Gators has been one of two parts. Florida came out of the gate hot. They defeated 20th-ranked Florida State and later Ohio State en route to a 6-0 start to the season, the best start for the Gators of the Mike White era.

Since then, Florida has looked like a different team. In the last eight games, the Gators have gone 3-5 including a loss to a winless Texas Southern team at home. Florida has a grueling start to SEC play, opening against three consecutive ranked opponents. Despite a halftime lead, Florida lost the opener to No. 15 Alabama, then fell on the road to No. 9 Auburn last Saturday.

At 0-2 in conference play, Florida now has another tough opponent in LSU. The Gators have not started 0-3 in SEC play since the 1981-82 season.

LSU’s Winning Start

Like Florida, LSU started their season very strong. The Tigers went on an unbeaten run to open the year, including a win over Penn State. Unlike Florida though, the Tigers did not cool off and have continued their winning ways.

LSU currently sits at 14-1, with their only blemish coming at the hands of Auburn. Following the loss, LSU has since gone on to beat both Kentucky and Tennessee.

Key Players

For Florida, their most impactful player has been senior Colin Castleton. The forward leads the team in scoring, rebounds, and blocks. Castleton averages 15.6 points per game, one of three Gators, along with Phlandrous Fleming Jr. and Tyree Appleby, whose scoring average is in the double-digits. The Gators biggest three-point threat has bean Myreon Jones, who scored 25 shots from behind the arc thus far.

On the other side, LSU’s game runs through several different players. Tari Eason is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16.2 points per game. Darius Days is another key player, who averages 14.3 points and also 7.9 rebounds per game. Days has also shot 35.6% from three-point territory this season, leading the team in three-points made.

Final Outlook and Where to Watch

Florida desperately needs this win in order to get things back on track. An 0-3 hole starting conference play is, obviously, a very tough spot to come back from. The good news for Florida is their schedule becomes a lot easier after this game. For LSU, a win here would be huge to keep pace with the top of the conference. Following tonight, the Tigers have a game against Arkansas and then a three-game stretch against No. 24 Alabama, a rematch with No. 22 Tennessee, and Texas A&M who is unbeaten in SEC play.

The game will be 7:00 p.m. EST tip-off at Exactech Arena in Gainesville, FL. Live coverage can be found on ESPN2 and on WRUF radio starting at 6:25.

About Jack Shivertaker

Jack Shivertaker is a senior at the University of Florida pursuing a degree in Journalism with a focus on sports media.

Check Also

Tennessee uses second half to beat Florida

The Florida Gators (12-8, 3-5) fall to the No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers (14-5, 5-3) as …