Florida vs. Arkansas, Game Thread: Hobbled Gators on "upset" alert against Hogs

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida will be without leading scorer Casey Prather on Saturday, and doesn't know exactly what it will get from Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young. That's a bad recipe when facing Arkansas in Fayetteville.

If the favored team wins a game at home, is it really an upset? That's the perception Florida will be fighting if it goes down on the road today at Arkansas, in a game that will be televised by ESPN2 at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Never mind that the Gators will be without leading scorer Casey Prather, who will be kept out because of a knee injury that popped up on Thursday, and don't know exactly what they'll get out of Scottie Wilbekin, who sprained his right ankle in Wednesday's win over South Carolina, or Patric Young, whose old knee issues (and, potentially, allergies to persevering through injury) have been problematic over the last few days: The little numbers meaning Florida is ranked and Arkansas is not will make a loss at one of the best home teams in the country look bad for Billy Donovan's bunch.

How good is Arkansas at home? The Razorbacks are averaging 81.6 points per game at home, and allowing 55.7. And they haven't lost in their last 23 home games, a streak that began after Arkansas's non-conference loss to Syracuse in November 2012 and has included wins over Florida, Missouri, SMU, Clemson, and a Nerlens Noel-less Kentucky.

And that last trip to Bud Walton Arena ended very poorly for Florida, with the Gators getting bombed by a white-hot Arkansas team that opened the game on a 36-13 run. Florida outscored the Razorbacks 56-44 from that point on, but the damage was done over the Hogs' first 20 shots, 15 of which went in.

There are caveats, of course. Arkansas was very much mortal in its first true road game this season on Wednesday, losing to a bad Texas A&M team by 16 points, and its other two losses have come against California and Gonzaga, teams not quite on Florida's talent level, away from home. Most of those home wins have come against terrible teams; only SMU and Clemson, which lost by 11 and six, respectively, seem like NCAA Tournament teams.

But the fact remains that Arkansas is difficult to beat in front of the thousands and thousands of fans that pack the Bud, which seats nearly 20,000, and that Florida coming in at less than full strength makes this a tougher trip to Fayetteville than most for the Gators.

If they lose, it's an "upset" in narrative sense only. And if they win, it's a big win that won't feel big to many.

I'd still prefer the win, I think.

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