The Florida Gators (6-3) are on the road yet again, this time heading to the neutral location of Sunrise, Florida to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-3) in the Orange Bowl Classic.
After putting up a hard fight against the No. 1 team in the nation, the Gators have learned some lessons that they are ready to translate into their gameplay on Saturday night.
“There’s a lot that we learned, offensively and defensively,” Florida Gator head coach Mike White said. “Most importantly, I look at that game as a positive. Again, we’re not celebrating that we lost a close to Michigan State at all. But we showed this team has a lot of pride.”
Notables from the Gators’ last game:
-They played harder than we have seen all season; they proved that they could work together as a team, while having a high level of intensity.
-Chris Chiozza and Brandone Francis-Ramirez made the starting lineup for the first time this season.
-Chiozza was raining three’s against the Spartans late in the second half of the game, proving that he can do more than just distribute and assist.
-The Gators had a fantastic defensive effort, but could have taken the game if they had better shot selection on offense.
Oklahoma State overview:
The Cowboys are very similar to the Gators in that they excel on the defensive side of the ball, keeping their opponents to just 38.5% from the field. They also are not producing a great amount of shots, going just under 45% from the floor.
Their shooting suffered a lot due to the fact that they lost their spectacular shooting guard, Phil Forte, with an elbow injury. Prior to his injury he was averaging 14.4 points per game and had logged more than 1,300 career points.
In Mike White’s own words, “They got size, they’ve got depth and they’re always really sound especially positionally defensively so it’s another tall task for us offensively, it’s another, we’re gonna be trying to find ways to generate points for us offensively.”
Florida is coming off of a two-game losing streak and Oklahoma State is coming off a two-game winning streak. The Gators are trying to flip their momentum and the Cowboys are looking to keep the ball rolling.
Granted, all of Florida’s losses have come from Top-25 ranked teams (Miami, Purdue and Michigan State). Whereas Oklahoma State’s losses have come from non-ranked teams, but less than five points decided two of its three defeats.
With two defensively strong teams, they will have to set their sights to their problem area — the offense. Whichever team can get in a rhythm and get the ball in the basket against a tough defense is what team will walk away with the win.
Florida has Dorian Finney-Smith, John Egbunu and Devin Robinson who are all averaging in double-digits that will all need to contribute. So far this season we have seen flashes from KeVaughn Allen, Chris Chiozza and Kasey Hill putting points on the board, and they will need to continue to step up for this game to go their way.
Want to see if Florida will come out of Sunrise with a win? Tune in on Fox Sports at 8:05 p.m. EST or follow along with us on our message boards right here on gatorcountry.com.