Florida vs. South Carolina, Game Thread: Gators want to avoid Gamecocks' trap

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Florida saw what happened to Kentucky at Colonial Life Arena. But the Gators are better-equipped to beat South Carolina — and they already have.

Florida has the country's No. 1 ranking entering tonight's game with South Carolina in Columbia (7 p.m., ESPNU or WatchESPN), a chance to go undefeated on the road in SEC play for the first time in program history, and a Saturday showdown with Kentucky looming. And Florida is running into South Carolina off the Gamecocks' biggest win under Frank Martin, a big ol' stormed-the-court upset of Kentucky last Saturday.

This is one of those games — a trap.

But it's also a game against a bad team.

South Carolina isn't the SEC's worst team according to KenPom — that's Mississippi State, ranked 216th — but the Gamecocks are second-to-last in KenPom, at No. 142, and outside the top 100 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, while Florida is 11th in both categories. They have a heck of a shooter in Brenton Williams, a wildman in Michael Carrera — the Carom Collector, if he needs a nickname — and a promising freshman in Sindarius Thornwell ... and that's about it.

It was 74-58 when the final horn sounded for the game Florida and South Carolina played in Gainesville in January, but it was 19-6 after 10 minutes, 32-14 at one juncture in the first half, and 70-47 late, before a let's-make-it-somewhat-respectable run from the Gamecocks late. Florida made just five of 19 threes in that game, and only had five offensive reboundsin 24 opportunities, and still won easily. Williams, the biggest reason the 'Cocks took down the 'Cats, with his 15 free throws and 24 points, was nearly silent against Florida, scoring 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting, and not even making it to the free throw line.

Yes, I'm worried, because Florida's No. 1 and has lost at South Carolina before, and because a hot Williams and a relentless Carerra could surprise a lot of teams. But Florida just doesn't play nearly as poorly as Kentucky did for 30 minutes against South Carolina for even a half, and Kentucky almost won that game anyway.

I don't call shots much, but: The Gators will be the SEC's first 17-0 team in many, many years in about two hours. And if they're not, you can blame me as much as you want.

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