College Basketball Preview: Mississippi at Florida - Florida Favored
The top-ranked Gators put a nine-game win streak on the line Saturday when they face SEC rival Mississippi in Gainesville.
Florida (16-2, 3-0) has had a week to rest since coasting to an 84-50 victory over South Carolina on Jan. 13. While forwards Al Horford and Joakim Noah combined for 27 points and 19 rebounds in that contest, senior guard Lee Humphrey set career highs with 27 points and seven 3-pointers.
Nicknamed "Humpty" by his teammates, Humphrey made five 3s before the game was eight minutes old. The Gators made 11 of their first 13 shots en route to a 30-16 lead.
"I felt good today," Humphrey said. "Our guys did a good job finding me when I'm open. They're fun to play with."
Humphrey made the Gamecocks pay for packing the middle in an effort to contain Noah and Horford.
"I was a little bit surprised they stayed in the zone as long as they did," said Humphrey, who finished 10-of-12 from the field. "Guess they felt like that would be a good defense to play against us and our guys did a good job taking advantage."
Florida coach Billy Donovan said the Gators needed Humphrey to knock down those shots to loosen up South Carolina's defense.
"They were trying to protect their interior," Donovan said. "Lee stepped up and made them."
Humphrey is averaging 18.0 points on 20-of-29 shooting in his last three games, going 14-of-20 from 3-point range during that span. Junior guard Taurean Green was limited to 10 points on 2-of-4 shooting against South Carolina, but leads the team with 13.6 points per game.
After proving they could dominate an opponent on the road, the Gators look for more of the same at home. Florida is 12-0 at the O'Connell Center this season, outscoring opponents by more than 30 points per game while limiting them to 36.8 percent shooting from the floor.
A victory Saturday would make the Gators 4-0 in the SEC for the first time since they opened 7-0 in 2002-03.
Mississippi (12-6, 1-3) will be facing its second straight ranked opponent following a 62-55 loss to No. 16 LSU on Wednesday.
Clarence Sanders led the Rebels with 12 points and Dwayne Curtis had his fourth consecutive double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
"We are down by one and Terry Martin makes an SEC-level play off the dribble and makes a shot," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "Tasmin Mitchell jumps up and sticks a big shot. During those same trips, we don't even get a shot at the basket."
Wednesday's defeat was the ninth straight SEC road loss for Mississippi, which has dropped 11 in a row to Top 25 teams. The Rebels' last matchup with a No. 1 team on Feb. 19, 1994, resulted in a 90-73 loss to Arkansas.
Florida has won four straight and seven of the last nine meetings with Mississippi. The Gators posted a 69-58 victory in Oxford last season.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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