Florida Gators center Alex Condon (21) and forward Thomas Haugh (10) attempt to block a shot by Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) at Coleman Coliseum. [Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports]

Florida Closes Regular-Season Home Schedule Vs. No. 16 Alabama

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team hosts the No. 16 Alabama Crimson Tide at the sold-out O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. today for its final home game of the season.

The Gators (20-9, 10-6 SEC) are 13-1 at home this season and have won seven straight home games since the 87-85 loss on Jan.6 to the Kentucky Wildcats. Florida ranks sixth in the SEC and is one out of six teams with double-digit conference wins.

The Tide (20-9, 12-4) sits second in the SEC with just one game shy of Tennessee’s 13-3 leading record.

Last Matchup

Florida will have an opportunity for redemption against Alabama after the Gators fell to the Tide 98-93 on Feb. 21 in overtime at Coleman Coliseum.

Florida guard Walter Clayton Jr. led the game with 27 points, but it was not enough for the Gators as Bama’s Aaron Estrada and Grant Nelson scored a combined 42 points in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 79-70, including the past three games. A win against the Tide would mark UF coach Todd Golden’s first win against the program, improving his record on the series to 1-2.

Key Players

Florida

The Gators welcomed multiple transfers to the team this season, one of the most notable being senior forward Tyrese Samuel. As one of the four double-digits scorers in the Gators’ lineup, Samuel averages 13.5 points per game while shooting 57% from the field.

Besides racking up points, Samuel leads the team in rebounds by averaging 7.8 per game.

On last Wednesday’s home game against the Missouri Tigers, Samuel had a career-high 28-point game to lead the Gators to victory.

Alabama

For Alabama, senior guard Mark Sears leads the SEC in scoring, averaging 20.7 points per game. In the Tide’s last three games, Sears has turned in 20-plus points, while shooting 51% from the field and 43% behind the 3-point line.

Sears is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, as well as, in the conversation for the 2023-2024 SEC Player of the Year.

During Alabama’s last matchup against Florida, Sears put up 17 points, eight assist and seven rebounds against the Gators.

 

The Gators need a clutch win against the Tide to seal their place in the SEC tournament next week and at a solid seed in the NCAA tournament later this month.

The game will be carried on ESPN, 98.1-FM/AM-850 WRUF.

UF closes regular-season play at Vanderbilt at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

About Andrea Castiblanco

Andrea is a junior at the University of Florida studying Journalism- Sports and Media with a minor in economics.

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