3:15 pm | LF Sports
Georgia Dome | Atlanta, Georgia
The Gators (27-5) zoomed out to a fast start in the SEC tournament last night, dismantling the Georgia Bulldogs 74-57, and in the process proved they were back to normal after a late-season losing skid. Their quest for a third-straight SEC tournament title started with a 17-0 run over the Bulldogs, who proved to be no match for the inspired defending national champions.
The Ole Miss Rebels (20-11) grabbed the second seed in the parity-driven SEC west with an 8-8 conference record on the season. Their first game in the tournament was an impressive 80-60 win over LSU in the late-game last night.
The Rebels held LSU to only 33% shooting on the night, including 14% in the first half. Guard Bam Doyne scored 26 points for the Rebels in the win.
The Gators took the lone matchup of the season over the Rebels, 79-70, in a game that may seem closer than it actually was. Florida led 45-26 at halftime, using a 61% shooting effort in the win. The Rebels, however, found a weakness in the Florida attack by continually pressing them hard in the second half, forcing several turnovers and cutting the lead to single digits. Ole Miss scored 19 points off of Gator turnovers in the game.
One thing to watch today is second half points for the Rebels. Georgia was able to snag 20 offensive rebounds in the game last night, but fortunately for the Gators, weren't able to capitalize on them as much as they should have. This was the highest offensive rebounding percentage (explanation) given up by the Gators on the season at 47.4.
When the Gators get off to fast starts, similar to what they did last night against Georgia, they're tough to beat. They came out firing against Ole Miss in their first meeting, so I'd expect them to try and do the same this evening.
If the Gators protect the ball and play a solid defensive game, we should see them in the final tomorrow. Ole Miss just doesn't have the guns offensively to hang with Florida consistently, as long as it's at least an average shooting day for the Orange and Blue.
Whoever wins this game will take on the victor from the Arkansas/Mississippi State matchup currently being played.