Florida-Mississippi State Preview

Florida-Mississippi State Preview

Series Record: UF leads 58-49

Last Matchup: UF won 69-57 on Jan. 28, 2012

Team: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Conference: Southeastern

Head Coach: Rick Ray

Record: 7-10 (2-3)

Rankings in Polls: Unranked

Probable Starters

Craig Sword—G

Trivante Bloodman—G

Jalen Steele—G

Gavin Ware—F

Colin Borchert—F

Key Bench Players

Roquez Johnson—F

Fred Thomas—G

Things to Watch

On the Road Again: Saturday’s matchup against Mississippi State marks the fourth time the Gators have gone on the road in the last five games. Up to this point, Florida has handled the away environments very well, winning those previous three games by 22, 21 and 17 points.

Bulldogs Bench Play and Rotation: Recently, Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray has been utilizing a new strategy. His two top scorers, Roquez Johnson and Fred Thomas, now come off of the bench rather than playing in the starting lineup. So far, the results have been mixed with the Bulldogs winning their first two SEC games, but dropping their last three. Mississippi State has an interesting rotation as Ray tries to mix in several players for significant minutes. Nine players are averaging more than 20 minutes per game. It looks like the Gators will need to be careful in conserving their energy since the Bulldogs like to keep their players fresh with a lot of substitutions.

Positional Breakdown

Guards: A pair of freshman, Fred Thomas and Craig Sword lead this group. Thomas is the team’s second leading scorer with 10.6 points per game with Sword following closely behind at 9.6 points per game. Junior Jalen Steele provides some experience and a veteran presence to this young group. As mentioned before, the Bulldogs keep Thomas on the bench to start the game, but he’ll still get his minutes. All three guards average more than 24 minutes per game. However, the Bulldogs don’t have much of a three-point threat amongst their guards. The team is shooting below 30 percent from three-point range.

Forwards: Off of the bench, Roquez Johnson is the key to Mississippi State’s forwards. He leads the team in scoring with 10.7 points and still pulls in nearly five rebounds. He’s the main option off of the bench, but the Bulldogs still have two very capable forwards in Colin Borchert and Gavin Ware. Both are forces on the rebounding front. There isn’t much star power at the forward position for Mississippi State, so the Gators should have a big advantage with Erik Murphy and Will Yeguete.

Center: The Bulldogs only viable option at center is Wendell Lewis. He averages 21 minutes off of the bench and scores just over eight points per game. Lewis is smaller at 6-foot-9, so Patric Young should matchup well with him down low.

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Drew is a senior at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. When not at school, Drew resides in Lakeland, Fla. Ever since working on his high school yearbook, Drew has had an interest in pursuing a journalism career after college. In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper, The Samford Crimson, Drew has also been with Gator Country as an intern for one year. He enjoys the finer things in life like Tampa Bay Rays baseball and always making sure to make fun of the Atlanta Braves to Andrew Spivey’s face.