The Gators will face off against the Crimson Tide of Alabama this evening at 8 pm, returning home following a perfect road trip to Athens and Lexington.
The Tide were looked at as one of the nation's elite teams coming into the season, but a .500 conference record and double digit losses to Notre Dame, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Auburn have left them fighting to stay atop in their division. Despite their 5-5 record in the SEC, the Tide still manage to be tied for first with Ole Miss. Needless to say, the SEC West is a giant mess right now, with not one team pulling away as the favorite.
The Gators have won 9 of the last 11 between these two teams, although the Tide were victorious in Tuscaloosa last February.
Here are some of the key stats for the two teams going into tonight's affair (courtesy of the Gatorzone official stat pack):
UF: 81.6 Opp: 59.9
UA: 74.9 Opp: 67.2
UF: .540 Opp: .395
UA: .465 Opp: .408
UF: .435 Opp: .283
UA: .362 Opp: .316
UF: 1.3 Opp: 0.7
UA: 1.0 Opp: 1.2
Alabama, just like almost every other Gators opponent this season, doesn't shoot the ball quite as well as the Gators do. However, they can score some points, averaging about 75/game, thanks to the scoring ability of their froncourt trio of Alonzo Gee, Richard Hendrix and Jermareo Davidson. The three Tide players combine for over 40 points, more than half of their offense.
They will face a tall task in Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer this evening...which may be the only frontcourt in the SEC collectively better than them. Horford and Noah are coming off games in which they didn't make an impact due to foul trouble, meaning they may come in with a fire (even more of one than usual) under them this evening. Corey Brewer was the MVP of the Kentucky outing, and should find some success if he is consistently covered by Alonzo Gee, who comes in 3" shorter.
One thing that the Gators will need to overcome this evening is the rebounding ability of 'Bama, who has a +5.2 rebound margin. The Gators have been outrebounded in their last two games, although Saturday night's result could be due to Noah and Horford's lack of minutes. The Tide's offensive rebounding percentage is listed at 38.7, good for 32nd on Ken Pomeroy's stats ratings list.
Pomeroy also has 'Bama's defensive efficiency rating at #131, coming in at 100.1. Teams were similar numbers at DE, including Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina, have given up quite a few points to this Gators offense. How well 'Bama's defense plays this evening will be a key, as it always is. They can't let the Gators shoot the ball well, or they will face the same fate as several others have at the O-Dome this season.