Florida guard Zippy Broughton (4) drives against South Carolina guard Bree Hall (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Gators Women’s Hoops Darkhorse in the SEC?

A recent surge of impressive team basketball now have the Gators women’s basketball team in the thick of the SEC race. Although, coach Kelly Rae Finley has not officially been named head coach but, she seems to have Florida playing inspiring basketball.

In recent weeks, Florida has strung together wins over ranked opponents. Including, at the time, crushing a 23rd ranked Kentucky squad and upsetting No.11 LSU at home,73-72. There is now a belief circulating in the program can this team do the unthinkable? Especially, with recent fans attendance rising, Gator faithful’s are showing their support.

In a loss to top-ranked South Carolina, Exactech Arena received their largest crowd since 1999 with over 5,000 fans. It actually snapped a five-game winning streak. But, that didn’t discourage the orange and blue. In fact, a momentous second half carried over into their matchup against Tennessee.

Gators on the Rise

No.7 ranked Tennessee was just overwhelmed since opening tip against Florida. A team that has only lost to the Gators only four times all time, the Lady Vols did not have no answers defensively.

The news of the 84-59 blowout victory for Florida is just the tip of the iceberg.  Defeating a legendary program, does do wonders for Florida. For one, who have put this team in the backburner in the beginning of the season, are aware now.

On the year, veteran guard Kiara Smith averages 15.1 points per game including dropping 25 against the Tennessee.

Some may be surprised with Thursday win but, coach Finley begs to differ. In her first season at the helm, she has already knocked off the programs first top-10 opponent since 2015. The teams’ camaraderie was visible as they circled at half court after the final buzzer.


A Race to the Top

Doubters can not just dismiss Florida’s hot streak. In fact, the Orange and Blue have now won six of their last seven games. Now, in the final month of conference play they are now tied with Ole Miss and 14th ranked Georgia Bulldogs for third place in the SEC. Also, a game behind the Lady Vols.

As top-ranked South Carolina maybe out of reach for Florida, there is a chance they may leap over the Big Orange. Tennessee does have some tough ranked opponents coming including the Gamecocks. If, Finley can continue this upward trajectory a first round bye in the SEC Tournament may not be too far fetch.

But first, Florida must handle business on the road in Athens. With a win in Sunday’s matchup against the Bulldogs, the Gators can separate themselves from the pack in the conference standings. Tip off is scheduled at 1 p.m.

About Curtis Michaud

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