The Florida Gators won their third straight game on Saturday, defeating the Georgia Bulldogs in overtime, 102-98, in a critical clash for their postseason prospects. The victory not only maintained the Gators’ internal momentum heading into an SEC conference-opening rematch with the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday, but it also demonstrated Florida’s fortitude in a national environment for a possible NCAA Tournament berth. When publishing his weekly Power 36 rankings, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz took notice, rating the Gators at No. 33, up from their prior unranked position in the series on January 22. “The Gators are making a midseason push with a three-game win streak,” Katz wrote, supporting his choice of Golden’s program.

The third win in a row put UF above.500 in the conference for the first time this season and to 14-6 overall. According to Golden, it demonstrates his team’s progress in the correct direction. “The reality is, the guys feel it,” he remarked afterward about the significance of the victory. “We’re clearly playing better. We’re playing better. Wins are piling up. And, listen, we’re about to go through a tough time. We go to Rupp, then to College Station. I believe Auburn is coming in after a bye. So, it’s not getting any easier.One of the Gators’ objectives is to return to the field of 68 in March. With the victory, they are firmly established as a club on the bubble, with more than half of the SEC season remaining. Despite significant ups and downs throughout the season, Florida found its identity as a high-octane, offensive-minded team. Led by a group of supremely gifted guards — Zyon Pullin, Walter Clayton Jr., Riley Kugel, and Will Richard — the unit has flourished in an up-tempo approach meant to find open three-pointers and rim shots early in the shot clock. However, when functioning in a regular halfcourt system, the team’s ball movement and ability to create off the dribble has shown to be more sustainable than in previous years.

It’s culminated in Florida’s No. 8 standing in scoring offense with 85.4 points per game on average. The Gators rank in the top 15 of offensive efficiency per KenPom. Big men Tyrese Samuel, Micah Handlogten and Alex Condon have benefited from the style as well, receiving consistent looks inside and the freedom to attack the offensive glass to create second-chance opportunities when a shot goes up. They’ve dominated the boards on both ends so far this season, aiding the group to post the nation’s best rebounding per game mark (44.65) of any program in the country by nearly a full rebound.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *