GAINESVILLE, Fla., Sporting Alert – No. 5 Florida returns to the basketball court on Monday when it hosts state rival Florida State at the O’Connell Center in Gainesville.
The Gators (5-1) are back in action for the first time since losing to No. 1 Duke at the Phil Knight Invitational tournament championship game eight days ago and they are anxious to get back to playing competitively again.
Meanwhile, the undefeated Seminoles (6-0) are coming off a 78-73 win over Rutgers last Tuesday night, with CJ Walker finishing with a career-high 24 points in the win.
Florida State has been having its own way in recent weeks, but is expected to be fully tested by a Florida team that has quickly emerged as the favorite to win the SEC.
Led by junior guard Terance Mann’s 15.3 points a game and forward Phil Cofer’s 14.2 ppg, the Seminoles have five players averaging in double figures this season, while three of them are shooting well over 60 percent from the field.
When: Monday, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Exactech Arena/O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.
Records: Florida 5-1, Florida State 6-0
TV: ESPN2 (Tom Hart and Sean Farnham)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: Gator IMG Sports Network (Mick Hubert and Mark Wise)
For the Gators, they have four players scoring in double digits, led by guard Jalen Hudson’s 21.7 points a game.
Egor Koulechov, who is averaging 17.7 points with seven rebounds, is another highlighted contributor this season for Florida, with KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza scoring over 13 points so far this term.
Entering this game, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is backing the Gators with a 75 percent chance, but it’s Florida State that has the momentum in this series.
Including last December’s 83-78 victory in Tallahassee, the Seminoles have won three straight in this head-to-head clash and will attempt to extend that streak.
The last time Florida won a game in this series was in Gainesville during the 2013-14 season when it secured a narrow 67-66 victory.
Hudson is hoping to end that losing streak on Monday and backs the Gators to do so at home.
he was quoted as saying in the Florida Times-Union, “We’re at home and we’ve got to protect our house. I’m excited about it.”
Florida comes into the game leading the nation in scoring with 99.5 points per game and is ranked fifth in 3-point shooting percentage at .460.
Meanwhile, Florida State is scoring 88.8 points per game and is shooting 51.7 percent this season.
“It’s probably going to be a track meet,” Cofer said. “They’re dogs, just like us.
“We’re going to go after each other and it’s going to be crazy.”