Nov 22, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Florida Gators forward Tyrese Samuel (4) drives past Pittsburgh Panthers forward Guillermo Diaz Graham (25) for a dunk attempt in the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Gators Looking to Bounce Back At O’Dome

The Gators need to get back in the win column. After back-to-back losses to No. 13 ranked Baylor and Pittsburgh, Florida is in need of a win to remain above .500.

The Florida Gators (4-3) are set to take on the Merrimack College Warriors (4-5) Tuesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

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New Key Gators

Although Florida enters this game as the heavy favorite, this feels like a much-needed win early in the season. The Gators will likely look for production from their new transfers to bounce back.

Junior guard Walter Clayton Jr. and graduate forward Tyrese Samuel have had a big impact in their short time with the team.

Clayton Jr. has operated as the Gators starting point guard and is currently the team’s leading scorer. He is averaging 15.16 points per game to go along with 4.0 assists through the first seven games of the season. Clayton has brought an element of playmaking to the point guard position that Florida lacked in the previous season. His production has opened up the offense and has helped four different Gators average double-digit points early in the year.

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Samuel has also gotten off to a hot start with his new team in Gainesville. He has become a force for Florida in the paint, averaging 14.1 points per game and 8.3 rebounds. Samuel has already collected two double-doubles and has provided a boost to the Gators’ interior defense.

Standing at 6’10”, Samuel has the unique ability to guard multiple positions on the floor due to his quickness and defensive ability. This has been a big luxury for the Florida defense when getting caught in pick-and-roll switches and defending the paint.

Samuel was also named the SEC player of the week earlier in the season after a successful run at the NIT Season Tip-Off in NYC.

Looking Ahead

Should the Gators win this matchup, the team would sit at 5-3 heading into the rest of their December schedule. Florida’s stiffest competition in the near future will come on Dec. 19 during the Jumpman Invitational when it takes on Michigan.

SEC play kicks off for the Gators against Kentucky on Jan. 6 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. This makes every win in December crucial to the Gators’ tournament hopes, with a tough SEC schedule on the horizon.

About Austin Stirling

Austin Stirling is a third-year journalism major with a sports media focus. He is aspiring for a career in sports media writing, production or sports content creation. Contact him at austinstirlingg@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @austinstirlingg

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