A set of Gators with something other than pride to play for this season will look to capture their fifth victory in a row over Florida State tonight, when the two teams take the court at the O'Connell Center at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
The hosting Gators are 5-1 on the year, currently ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll, and leading the all-time series against FSU 42-22, with an 11-6 mark under Billy Donovan. Florida is coming off a dominant 86-60 win in Jacksonville over the Dolphins on Monday, and will look to build off Monday night's momentum with recently reinstated point guard Scottie Wilbekin at the helm.
Wilbekin scored 12 points and recorded seven assists in his senior-year debut, but more importantly, gave the Gators some much needed leadership on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
Something Wilbekin does well that doesn't get marked in the stat sheet is the way he opens up the floor for players like Dorian Finney-Smith (who recorded a double-double against Jacksonville) and Casey Prather (who scored a team-high 27 points).
The freedom Finney-Smith and Prather now enjoy with Wilbekin back on the floor should play an important role tonight when facing FSU's suddenly fast-paced offensive play style, keyed by the superb play of guards Ian Miller and Devin Bookert. 'Noles senior forward Okaro White is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds per game, and should see a good rotation of Finney-Smith, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete tonight on defense.
Florida State is 29th in the country in field goal percentage, shooting just over 50 percent from the floor on the year. But Florida is fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom, and with Wilbekin back in the lineup, the Gators held Jacksonville to just 37 percent shooting. It should be a great matchup watching FSU's offense versus UF's defense tonight in the O-Dome, and should get both team's fans ready for the Showdown in the Swamp tomorrow at noon.
The projected starting lineups for both teams are as follows:
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