Florida coach Todd Golden gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Florida Men’s Basketball Team Takes On Rival Florida State

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team will take on Florida State at home on Friday night. This game will be the second half of the Florida-Florida State basketball doubleheader.

Florida comes into this game with a 2-1 record after a 21-point win over Florida A&M on Tuesday. Florida State has won its first two games, as it took the win against Central Michigan in its previous game. In last year’s matchup, the Gators took the win in Tallahassee 76-67.

The men’s game is scheduled to tip off at 7 tonight and can bee seen on the SEC Network and heard on ESPN Gainesville 98.1-FM/AM-850 WRUF.

The Gators must take care of the ball and score in transition

In Florida’s three-point loss against Virginia a week ago, a few things stood out. The Gators turned the ball over 16 times. In addition, the Gators shot just 40% from the field and 28% from 3-point range. Although 3-point shooting has not been great in the three games, the Gators have struggled taking care of the ball.

In the three games, Florida has turned the ball over 39 times. On the flip side, Florida State has turned the ball over 29 times in two games. The Gators will have to capitalize off Florida State turnovers, while also giving the ball away less. In addition, Florida will have to perform better from the free-throw line, as it comes in shooting just 61.3% from the line.

The Gators have done well rebounding and it will be expected that they do the same Friday. Center Micah Handlogten and forward Tyrese Samuel come into this game each averaging 9 rebounds per game. Florida has 55 offensive rebounds this, so the offensive glass could be a big factor for the Gators.

Sophomore guard Riley Kugel comes in leading the Gators in points, but struggled against the Rattlers. He will look for a bounce-back performance. Guards Will Richard and Walter Clayton Jr. combined for 38 points against the Rattlers and will be key factors against the Seminoles.

UF coach Todd Golden praised Clayton, in particular, for his second-half performance. Freshman forward Alex Condon scored 17 points off the bench against the Rattlers and could be called upon for some big minutes in this matchup.

Florida State will need bench to provide big minutes

Throughout the years, an important part of coach Leonard Hamilton’s teams has been depth. Florida State struggled with that in the previous season, but Hamilton believes the depth is once again a strength for his team this season. Although they’ve played just two games, the Seminoles have 11 guys who have averaged more than 10 minutes per game so far.

In comparison to Florida, Florida State has more guys to use off the bench, which could be more effective. In the Gators’ loss to Virginia, their bench only produced 4 points. Because of this, the Seminoles could have the advantage in bench points.

As good as Florida State’s bench is, its starters will still be a big factor. Senior guard Darin Green Jr. leads his team in scoring and put up 18 points against Central Michigan. Green is shooting 43.8% from deep and more than 52% from the field.

Forwards Jamir Watkins and Baba Miller will match up against Handlogten and Samuel to battle for rebounds. Watkins is averaging 6.5 rebounds per game, while Miller leads his team in offensive rebounds with 5. Both Watkins and Miller have proven to be solid defensively, as they have a combined 9 steals this season.

Like Florida, the Seminoles will have to shoot better from the free-throw line. They performed well from the line last game, going 12-15 against Central Michigan. However, in their first game against Kennesaw State, the Seminoles hit 15 of their 25 attempts.


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