Scenes from the Gators' game against the Florida State Seminoles on November 10, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla.

Gator Hoops: The Week Ahead (March 2nd)

Florida did exactly what it had to do in its last two games, but it also found out about how fickle the NET Rankings can be.

Even though the SEC Network announcers were talking about Florida getting a Quad 1 win Tuesday night and probably punching their ticket, by the time the new NET was out Vanderbilt had slipped below the line that would make it a Quad 1 win.

Oh, well. The Gators did what they had to do in the last two games, getting road victories that will help their resume. At 19-11 and 9-8 in the SEC, the Gators still need another big win.

And Florida fans should be checking out scores as well with teams like Indiana, North Carolina, Memphis and Oregon who are also needing things to go right at the end of the season.

One thing for Florida – the Gators assured they will not have a losing record in conference play, the only SEC team and one of only nine Power 5 teamst hat can say that over the last seven seasons.

So, Mike White has that going for him.

Florida has also found a new hero in Phlan Fleming, who carried the Gators against Georgia and then had the biggest blocked shot of the year followed up by a game-winning three at Vanderbilt.

As much as the Gators can count on Colin Castleton and Tyree Appleby, they need a third scorer. Sometimes that has been Myreon Jones, sometimes Fleming and hopefully Anthony Duruji returns from an ankle injury.

NET REPORT: The Gators started the two-game road trip at No. 55 and the two wins elevated them to No. 51.

Kentucky is fighting for a No. 1 seed and is currently No. 5 in the NET so you understand how big a home win would be over the Wildcats.

UP NEXT, KENTUCKY: The Wildcats are 24-6. The good news is that five of those losses have come away from home.

But make no mistake about it, this is a team good enough to win the whole thing now that Kentucky is getting healthier.

They are led by Oscar Tshiebwe, a walking double-double. He leads the team in scoring at 16.9 points a game and rebounds at 15.3 and should be the SEC Player of the Year.

Kentucky has five players averaging in double figures and is averaging 80.4 points a game.

THEN, IT’S THE SEC TOURNEY:  A lot will depend on where Florida lands based on a win or loss against Kentucky. Florida’s first game will be Thursday against a team that played the night before and likely a team that isn’t going to help your NET.

It could end up being a game on Friday (if the Gators win their first game) that could decide whether Florida is dancing or not.

 IN 2022: The Wildcats blew open a close game in the second half to win 78-57 in Lexington. Tshiebwe had 27 points and 19 rebounds in the game as Florida had no answer underneath. Castleton was the only Gator in double figures.

BOTTOM LINE: While Florida’s offense has been much better of late, the defense has fallen off. That’s a recipe for disaster against the Wildcats, who score in bunches. It’s simple – beat Kentucky and you are almost certainly in the tournament. Don’t beat Kentucky and you will have to win twice at the SEC Tournament to have a chance.


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