After getting their first win against LSU since 2006 last Sunday, the Florida Gators (12-6, 2-3) look to build off that momentum when they play the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-9, 0-5) at the O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. today.
The Crimson Tide has put up a less-than-stellar performance so far this season against Southeastern Conference opponents. They have averaged 50.6 points per game compared to allowing their conference opponents to a comfortable 70.4 points per game.
With a huge win against LSU and playing at No.6 ranked Kentucky’s home court Sunday, this game can be viewed as more of a warm up for the big game Sunday. Senior Jordan Jones sees it in a different light.
“I can see that from the outside looking in that it looks that way,” Jones said. “but I think every year that I’ve been here we have lost to Alabama. Every year they may not have the best record, but for some reason, they have had our number lately so it’s definitely not a game we are overlooking.”
Jones brings up a valid point. Alabama hold a 29-21 overall lead in the series between the two, and the Tide has won three of the last four meetings against the Gators. Even though they have been 9-23 in the conference the last two seasons, three of those wins have been against Florida.
Sophomore Jasmine Robinson leads Alabama with 12.3 points per game, connecting on 35.1 percent (20-57) from beyond the arc this season. Junior Erin Hogue leads the Tide on the boards, collecting 6.6 per contest.
Previous to Sunday’s game, the Gators game plan was to give junior Jennifer George as many touches of the ball as possible since she is averaging 13.6 points per game. But after the game, Florida realized they had ten players on the roster that can contribute in a variety of ways.
Because George got in early foul trouble, a mixture of everyone scoring on the active roster helped fuel the win. Now the Gators don’t have to rely on George so much to keep them in the game, they can mix George’s paint presence with Jones’ three-point range along with the rest of the players to get the win over Alabama.
“We are finding ourselves as the season goes on,” said senior Deana Allen referring to the game against Alabama. “We had a big win against LSU. When we have fewer turnovers and play our style of basketball then we control the game.”
Allen has had a big impact on this team since getting the chance to start. She is able to bring a new-found energy to the game from the start. Allen is averaging 8.3 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game since getting the chance to start.
This game against Alabama is a key game for Florida, in the context of the NCAA Tournament. These are the type of games that teams, who get to play in the tournament come March, win. This game isn’t as much as a must-win for the Gators as a must-not-lose.
“We are trying to build our resume to get in the tournament and with five seniors on the team that’s our goal and that’s what we want to go out with,” said Jones talking about the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Amana Butler is focused on this game against the Tide. Any team can lose to any opponent at any time in the Southeastern conference, and Butler is one who knows that.
“We have a healthy respect for Alabama,” Butler said. “We respect every team in our league. It’s real easy for someone to lose. We had a stretch last year when we lost four in a row and then beat some of the best teams in the conference.
“Alabama’s SEC record is in no way reflective of what they are capable of. They are very athletic and had a super non-conference season. They’ve shown us in the last few years that we have got to play our best or we’ll be disappointed at the end of the game.”