The Florida Gators basketball team is traveling to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night to face Avery Johnson and the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Gators are coming off of their third straight conference win and second five-game winning streak of the season. The Gators stumbled a bit in December but were able to get hot at the right time to start off conference play 3-0. The hot Gator hoops team will need a fast start on the road at Alabama as the Tide will look to clamp down on an up and down Florida offense.
The Gators started their SEC three-game winning streak on the road against a stout Arkansas Razorbacks team. The Gators were able to grab the momentum early and thus secure control of the game until the very end. In Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night, Mike White is hoping for a similar aggressive start, “We’d like to be in attack mode,” said White when asked about how his team needs to start against the Crimson Tide, “From the tip, we will be looking to be as aggressive as we possibly can be and if we’ve got an open look we’ve got to shoot it with confidence.”
Hot early starts and confident shooting are mutually exclusive in Florida’s success as of late. Sophomore guard, KeVaughn Allen has provided a spark in Mike White’s second-year offense. Allen is averaging 14.7 points per game scoring 14 points against Ole Miss last Tuesday and a season-high 23 on Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers. The leadership and offensive production from Allen were enough to earn him SEC Player of the Week honors. Allen has not been the only offensive catalyst for the Gators of late; Justin Leon poured on a career high 19 points on Saturday and went 3-4 from beyond the arc.
In order to get into a rhythm early in the matchup, Mike White will have to find away around an outstanding Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide rank in the top three of the SEC defensively and that is a cause for concern for White, “Like Ole Miss, we’re going to see a lot of different looks. They keep you off-balance with giving you some pretty unique looks as compared to the rest of our league defensively.”
Stuck in the middle of the Crimson Tide defense are Alabama big men Braxton Key and Donta Hall. Key and Hall have proven to force in the paint in their young careers. Gators big men John Egbunu and Kevarrius Hayes will have their work cut out for them early in the game. Hayes and Egbunu cannot let the physical play of Key and Hall get them into early foul trouble as they were last Saturday against Tennessee.
The Florida Gators will look to avenge a 61-55 home loss to Alabama last year by returning the favor on Tuesday night in Tuscaloosa. For that to happen, Florida must come out disciplined and focused, but must not over think and stick to Mike White’s aggressive gameplan.