In the next week, the Gators will play three games, all crucial to winning the SEC for the first time since 2007. Starting today at Kentucky, Tuesday against Alabama and next Saturday at Vanderbilt, UF can prove if they have been winning with smoke and mirrors, of if they truly have grown into a team that can make an NCAA run.
Since UF used a late rally to defeat the Wildcats on February 5, the teams have gone in opposite directions. Florida's victory was the second in their current six-game winning streak. UK had three strong home wins, but two road losses to Vandy and this week at Arkansas.
Being 13-0 at home this season is the Wildcats biggest advantage in tonight's game. Florida has won on the road at Xavier and Tennessee, neither of which are easy places to win. But they also dropped their game at Mississippi State, which has long been a hated road trip. With the way that Florida has played recently, including Chandler Parsons becoming Old Blood and Guts, and improved guard play from Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker and the sneaky good Scottie Wilbekin, Florida can win today.
But they should win today to prove what we all desperately want; a sign that they are going to make a deep NCAA run. Generally those tournament teams are led by the leadership that Parsons has demonstrated. But watching Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin struggle on defense in the paint against Georgia, you wonder if UF can keep winning ballgames when they have one massive flaw they must overcome.
Some nights, it is free throw shooting, on others, it is a cold shooting start. Florida has to play 40 minutes at Kentucky, and not let off the gas pedal like they did in their previous meeting, when they blew a double-digit second half lead. Florida has to choke out the Wildcats, just as they did to Tennessee and Georgia at home.
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