Feb 21, 2024; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Florida Gators guard Walter Clayton Jr. (1) takes a three point shot against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Gators Look to Knock Off Missouri at Home

The No. 24-ranked Florida Gators men’s basketball team is looking for its 20th win of the season Wednesday night against a struggling Missouri Tigers team that has yet to win a conference game.

With a win, Florida (19-8, 9-5 SEC) would secure its first 20-win regular season since 2017.

Game time is 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network and on 103.7-FM.

Tournament Aspirations

The Gators are firmly in the NCAA tournament race and are currently projected to be a 6-seed by ESPN. Playing in March would mark just the second time a Todd Golden-coached team would make the tournament. Golden took San Francisco to a tournament berth in his last season with the Dons.

Florida’s Strengths

The Gators continue to collect boards at a high level, with three big men averaging more than 6.5 rebounds a game. The Gators rank 15th in offensive efficiency, per Ken Pom, mainly because of what Tyrese Samuel (7.8), Micah Handlogten (7.4) and Alex Condon (6.6) have been able to do at the offensive glass.

Florida is more than a one-trick pony. The Gators boast the eighth-best scoring offense in the country, scoring 84.4 points per game. Florida’s scoring is due in large part to its transfer guard duo of Walter Clayton Jr. and Zyon Pullin. The pair is averaging 31.9 points and 7.7 assists per game.

He’s a B(East)

The Tigers’ (8-19, 0-14) biggest bright spot is senior guard Sean East, who is averaging 27.3 points in his last three games. East could pop off for a big night against a Florida team that is ranked 79th in defensive efficiency and might continue to limit Riley Kugel if they match up. Kugel saw just six minutes in Saturday’s contest against Vanderbilt for the Gators.

What’s Next

Both SEC squads play on Saturday, when the Gators travel to Columbia for a ranked matchup against the Gamecocks.

While this will be Florida’s first game against South Carolina this season, the Gators are no stranger to paying ranked opponents. Florida has played six ranked teams so far this season, going 2-4 in those games.

Missouri, on the other hand, will return home to take on Ole Miss for the second time this season. The Rebels squeaked out a win in Oxford when Matthew Murrell made both his free throws to ice the game against Mizzou.

About Alexander Vafeas

Alexander Vafeas is a second-year Sports Journalism student at the University of Florida. When not writing about high school sports for WRUF, Alexander works as a communications intern with the University of Florida Athletic Association.

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