Coming off of two straight wins, the Florida Gators basketball team is eager to face some challenging teams this weekend at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut. Florida matches up with Saint Joseph’s (3-0) in their first game at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday November 21.
The Gators have already showed massive improvements from their first game against Navy-where they struggled to find their rhythm-to beating North Carolina A&T by 50 points just a few days later.
The Hawks are also having a good season so far, and have an advantage of already playing-and winning-one more game than the Gators.
- In both games so far the Florida Gators finished with a player notching a double-double – Devin Robinson against Navy and Dorian Finney-Smith against North Carolina A&T.
- They’ve seen steady improvement from the free throw line, consistently staying above 50 percent – an area that they struggled in last season.
- Against North Carolina A&T, Florida had eight different players complete a 3-point shot.
- Chris Chiozza leads the SEC currently in 3-point percentage.
- Sophomore transfer John Egbunu has been having some dynamic gameplay with powerful dunks and hard presses.
St. Joseph’s Overview:
The Hawks have some impressive athletes on their roster this season, including junior forward DeAndre’ Bembry who just scored his 1,000th career point in their last game against Buffalo. They also have senior forward Isaiah Miles who averages 17 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Out of the three games they have played, Miles has had two double-doubles.
So far, St. Joseph’s has managed to have four players score in double digits in each game. This team also shoots well from the free throw line at .736 with two of their players shooting 100%. However, despite having a spread of scorers in high numbers, they are shooting at just .267 from behind the arc, under 50% in field goals.
In their last game none of their players were able to score in double-digits as they shot less than 25% from the floor. However, much like the Gators they struggle in shooting from behind the arc. Last tIke out the Hawks went 0-15, but they do have a better free throw percentage at 66.7. Keep in mind these stats are also coming off of a game against a #23 ranked Purdue. Both the Gators and the Aggies remain unranked.
Florida’s probable starters are the same lineup that Mike White has been using in the first two games – DeVon Walker, Dorian Finney-Smith, KaVaughn Allen, Kasey Hill and John Egbunu. The depth that the Gators have on the bench will allow them to play at the rapid tempo that White employs without exhausting any players as they are playing games two days in a row.
St. Joseph’s excels at the charity stripe, so Florida will have to play aggressively but be very cautious to not let them draw fouls and give up free points. In the Hawks’ past matchups they have not had as high scoring games as Florida has, but have had higher scoring individual players. However, for tournament play they will likely have to rotate their bench more that might make for some unforeseen combinations on the court.
Ultimately, it will come down to which team is able to keep the momentum on their side. These two teams are coming off of similar starts and are competing roughly at the same level, so the game could swing either way.
What this game means:
Both of these teams are looking to win this game to take on the winner of the Purdue / Old Dominion game, first and foremost. Every team that is in the tournament this weekend is undefeated, so losing this game means being one of the teams that has to leave with a logged loss.
For the St. Joseph’s Hawks, this is their first 3-0 start since their 2009 season. If they were able to bag this game, they would have their first 4-0 season start since 2003. If they are able to keep their winning momentum going, then this projected underdog will gain confidence and get put on the radar for some bigger games.
For the Florida Gators basketball team, they are looking to get their program back on its feet. They have showed some serious improvement in just their first two games, but against teams that they outmanned. Now, going against some hard competition they have the chance to up their game and see how they perform when challenged.