Hapless Tigers hit road to challenge 13th-ranked Gators

Updated: December 29, 2013

Gainesville, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – The 13th-ranked Florida Gators have only
two non-conference games left on the docket, and they will entertain the
Savannah State Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

Savannah State has really struggled to open the 2013-14 campaign, winning a
mere two of its first dozen contests. The Tigers have lost their last eight
games following a two-game win streak over little known clubs from Texas
Temple and Florida National. SSU’s most recent outing also occurred against a
team from the Sunshine State, as it dropped a 68-51 home decision to Miami-
Florida on Dec. 19. The Tigers, who have yet to win away from home this season
and will play another ranked foe in Baylor on Friday, will open Mid-Eastern
Athletic Conference action at home against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Jan. 6.

Florida brings a 9-2 record into this contest, one of only two remaining
before opening SEC play against visiting South Carolina on Jan. 8. The Gators
have won their last three games, the most recent being a 66-49 verdict against
Fresno State on Dec. 21. Their two losses this season have come against ranked
foes in Wisconsin and Connecticut, and they have signature wins over the likes
of Florida State (67-66), Kansas (67-61) and Memphis (77-75).

Florida is 2-0 in the series with Savannah State, and the Gators are 24-0 all-
time against teams from the MEAC. Last season, UF topped SSU in a 58-40 final.

Savannah State’s issues this season stem from its inability to score with any
degree of consistency, as the team averages just 61.9 ppg in hitting 41.4
percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 31.0 percent showing from
3-point range. The Tigers have only one double-digit scorers, and Deven
Williams’ 12.2 ppg certainly isn’t going to scare anyone. Jyles Smith heads
the team’s rebounding effort, which unfortunately comes in at -4.2 versus the
opposition, and the Tigers are guilty of 14.9 turnovers per game, while
goading the enemy into nearly the same amount (14.7 tpg). Jeremiah Hill came
off the bench to net 14 points, but that was pretty much it in the recent loss
to Miami, as SSU shot just 39.2 percent from the floor, missing 15 of its 20
3-point attempts along the way. The Tigers’ starting five accounted for only
three field goals, while the bench tallied 17. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes put
four players in double figures, drained 57.1 percent of their total shots,
made half of their 3-point attempts (7-of-14), and easily won the battle on
the boards (34-21).

Florida is a team that resides at the other end of the success spectrum, as it
generates 71.7 ppg while permitting only 61.1 ppg. The Gators, who boast five
double-digit scorers, led by Casey Prather and his 18.5 ppg, also own
favorable margins in rebounding (+5.0) and turnovers (+2.8), while draining
45.7 percent of their field goal attempts, including 37.1 percent of their 3-
point tries. Scottie Wilbekin (12.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.8 apg), Michael Frazier II
(11.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Dorian Finney-Smith (10.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Patric Young
(10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) have all performed well for Billy Donovan’s club, which
got 16 points from Prather and 11 from Wilbekin in the recent win over Fresno
State. Will Yeguete nearly had a double-double as he scored nine points and
grabbed 10 boards. UF started the game slowly, shooting just 29 percent from
the field, which included a dismal 1-of-13 effort from beyond the arc, in the
first half, but they turned it on after intermission, shooting 57.7 percent
over the final 20 minutes while holding the Bulldogs to 32 percent for the
game. The Gators controlled the glass (47-24), but forced only eight