College Basketball: Arkansas Razorbacks at Florida Gators
70% of Bets Placed on Arkansas +12.5 | Matchup | CBB Picks
Arkansas is out to prove it is one of the best teams in the nation. A win last weekend over a top 10 opponent was a good start, but a victory over defending champion and No. 2 Florida would leave little doubt.
The Razorbacks (12-3, 1-0) look to make it back-to-back SEC wins over teams ranked in the top 10 on Tuesday night when they travel to Gainesville for a matchup with the Gators (14-2, 1-0).
Oddsmakers have made Florida -12.5 point spread favorites
Despite going 22-10 last season and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001, expectations weren't very high for Arkansas after it lost several key players, including top scorers Jonathon Modica and Ronnie Brewer.
The Razorbacks, however, opened this season with eight wins in nine games before they were cooled off with losses to Texas Tech and Texas. Arkansas has rebounded with four straight victories, including an impressive 88-61 rout of then-No. 8 Alabama on Saturday.
Gary Ervin had 18 points and 11 assists and Charles Thomas added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Razorbacks, who scored the game's first 14 points and led by as many as 36 in the second half.
"Words can't describe how we played today," said freshman Patrick Beverley, who finished with 18 points. "We were out to show we are an elite team. We have to carry our intensity into the Florida game. This was a statement game for us. We knew we had to match, or better, their intensity."
As good as Arkansas was against Alabama, it may have to be even better when it faces a Florida squad that coasted to its seventh consecutive win Saturday, 67-51 over Georgia in its SEC opener.
While the Gators frontcourt of Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah and Al Horford gets much of the notoriety, Razorbacks coach Stan Heath knows all too well just how good Florida's guards can be.
The backcourt of Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green combined for 45 points and shot 10-of-14 from 3-point range in Florida's 74-71 victory over Arkansas in the SEC tournament semifinals March 11.
"Nobody has a great matchup with Florida, but we have some quickness and size," Heath said. "All of their guys are guys you have to worry about, but the guys that have killed us are Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green. We have to make it harder on those guys so they don't find their range like they did the last time we played."
Brewer keyed Saturday's win over Georgia with one of his best games of the season, collecting 19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
"The team was giving me the ball and I was able to finish," said Brewer, who notched his second career double-double. "We were getting out on the break, and I think that is where we strive the most."
Florida was able to rebound from a poor first half from the field (38.5 percent) with a 16-for-31 second-half performance. Humphrey added 16 points and Noah had 13 and 13 rebounds for the Gators, winners of 12 straight at home dating to last season.
This is the first time since 1990 that Florida will open conference play with two straight home games.
Arkansas ended a three-game losing streak to Florida with an 85-81 overtime victory Feb. 18, but the Gators avenged that loss with the SEC tournament win.
Florida is 5-0 against Arkansas at Gainesville since a 94-85 loss on Feb. 28, 1995.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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