Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley celebrates at the Exactech Arena Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, in Gainesville Fla., where the Florida Gators hosted the Florida Southern Mocs in an exhibition game to open their 2023-2024 season. (Augustus Hoff/WRUF)

Florida Women’s Basketball Hosts No.12 FSU

With another season of Gators basketball underway, the Florida women have not disappointed. Starting off the season an undefeated 3-0, the Gators have their biggest test of the young 2023-24 campaign Friday night at home against 12th-ranked Florida State.

The Seminoles are coming off a huge win against No. 11 Tennessee 92-91 last Thursday. Although Florida has not faced quite the competition FSU has, it’s coming off a blowout win against FAMU, 92-54, and has won all three games by double digits.

The Breakdown

Florida is averaging 85.7 points per game this season, up from 68.9 last year. The Gators are allowing 62.7 points per game, with no team reaching 70 or more. Florida is shooting 49% from the floor and 35% from three.

The big story for the Gators has been their defense. Florida is holding opponents to 37.3% from the floor, while forcing 20.7 turnovers a game. They are also averaging nearly 11 steals a game and 3.3 blocks. The key for the Gators will be to limit their turnovers. Florida is averaging 15.7 turnovers a game, with a season-high 23 turnovers coming against Bethune-Cookman.

Florida State is scoring the ball at an elite level, averaging 95.5 points a game. The Seminoles are outlasting opponents by a margin of 18.5 points, allowing 77 points. FSU is shooting 43.8% from the floor and has been lighting it up from three. They have shot the ball at a 42.6% clip from deep through two games, averaging 11.5 a game.

Against Tennessee, Florida State shot 59.1 percent from downtown and had thirteen threes in the game. Although early, the Seminole defense has put the clamps on. The Noles are forcing 24 turnovers a game, averaging 10 steals and four blocks.

Key Players

Florida is led by senior guard Aliyah Matharu. The transfer from Texas is putting up big numbers in her first three games, averaging 20.7 points and 3.7 assists on 55.3 percent shooting.

In her most recent game, Matharu had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists on 50% shooting in the win against FAMU.

The Gators have a significant size advantage in this one, with center Rashayle Kyle holding a three-inch advantage over the tallest Seminole. The senior has been great for Florida so far, averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds on 54.1 percent from the floor.

Florida State is led by junior guard O’Mariah Gordon. Gordon has taken a huge leap from last season, in which she averaged 6.9 points per game. She is averaging 21.5 points per game and 5.5 assists on 50% from the floor. She has started both games compared to the two games she started in 30 played last year.

In the win against Tennessee, she scored 22 points to go along with 5 assists on 70% shooting, 60 percent from three.

Junior forward Makayla Timpson will have to step up against the size of Florida. Standing at 6-foot-2, Timpson is averaging 14 points and 7.5 boards on 60 percent from the floor.

Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.

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