For Florida Gators women’s hoops, the hiring of Kelly Rae Finley last season has been nothing short of a dream. A 21-11 rescue job on the Gators’ 2021-2022 campaign graduated Finley into the head coach position, and the Gators from hopefuls to contenders.
This season seemed like a continuation of that rise as the Gators got off to an 11-2 start prior to SEC play.
The start of SEC play offered Finely’s team a taste of reality in an unforgiving conference. The Gators would drop their opener 77-67 in a loss to Tennessee symptomatic of what was to come. Florida would lose three of its next four SEC matchups, leaving the once conference dark horse in a 1-4 hole.
For Florida, Tennessee will mean revenge in a battle between the SEC’s ninth-seeded Gators and eighth-place Lady Vols.
Last Time Out
Tennessee handed the Gators its first SEC loss of the season last time out in Gainesville. Their second meeting presents the Lady Vols with the opportunity for a series sweep in what could be the Gators’ sixth SEC loss.
For Florida, the Gators will hope for a repeat performance from rising sophomore Alberte Rimdal. The Danish guard could do no wrong in 37 minutes for Finley, posting a team-leading 21 points and five assists. The Gators will also need to ensure a better effort on the glass this time out. In the contest, Tennessee’s 45–27 rebounding advantage—led by Rickea Jackson‘s 28 points and 9 rebounds—made all the difference.
Keys to the Game for Florida
- Florida’s defense will be a priority under Finley’s guidance. The Gators have been a perfect 21-0 under Finely when keeping opponents to 60 points or fewer.
- Florida has lost three in a row, including a loss to rivals Georgia, and five of its last six games with leading scorer Leilani Correa absent for seven contests due to injury before returning the last game against Kentucky. Correa, a senior guard from St. John’s, leads the Gators in scoring with 16 points per game.
- The Gators force an average of 19.7 turnovers, but they also average 18 turnovers themselves. If Tennessee can force turnovers and get out in transition, it could put the game away early.