Florida 9-6, 0-3 in SEC) is not in a good place right now after playing three straight ranked teams and hardly getting the result the Gators hoped for.
UF has now lost three straight and six of nine games heading into the softer part of the schedule. Of course, when you can’t make threes and frees, it doesn’t matter who you are playing. The Gators missed half of their 22 free throws in Wednesday’s loss to LSU and went 7-of-31 from beyond the arc.
The season is slipping fast and certainly Florida has been dealing with a lot, but this team needs to go on a run of some kind (how about one in a row?) or the hopes for the NCAA Tournament are going to fly away like a released dove.
NET REPORT: The Gators are currently 50th but won’t get a lot from wins in these next two (but could be crippled by losses). South Carolina is No. 103 in NET Rankings, Mississippi State is 47th.
UP NEXT, SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks are 10-5, 1-2 in the SEC. They have struggled with some injuries but are closer to full speed. Still, they are also coming off a dreadful 66-46 loss at Tennessee.
South Carolina is 300th in the nation in turnover/assist ratio, but is second in the SEC in offensive rebounding. As usual, they will play rugged defense.
Erik Stevenson is the leading scorer at 11.3 a game and he had 25 in the SEC opener against Auburn. James Reece V is the only other player averaging in double figures, in part because Frank Martin has 13 players who have averaged double figure minutes.
THEN, IT’S MISSISSIPPI ST.: At home, not that Florida has played that well at home. The game is at 6:30 pm. And judging from the last crowd, it’s not that much of an advantage apart from the one section that houses the Rowdies.
Iverson Molinar leads the Bulldogs (11-4, 2-1) averaging 17.5 points a game and he is averaging 32.7 minutes a game, the second most in the SEC.
LAST YEAR: Both the Gamecocks and Bulldogs beat Florida by scoring 72 points. SC won 72-66 in Gainesville as Florida shot 32 percent from the field. The Gators scored 40 points in the first half, 26 in the second.
Miss. State won 72-69 in Starkville as Tolu Smith had 27 points and 14 rebounds and Tre Mann missed a tying three at the buzzer.
BOTTOM LINE: Florida needs to win some games. Forget about NET and Bracketology. They will take care of themselves. Just win some games. The Gators always struggle with these two teams, but in the end, this flawed team has to start making shots or the NIT will come calling.