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One More to Go

The Florida Gators and Arkansas Razorbacks will face off in the Georgia Dome for the SEC tournament title tomorrow afternoon, similar to a matchup the two schools football teams had at the same venue last December.

AP Photo
Arkansas (21-2), a team that is fighting for a spot in the NCAA tournament, beat what looked to be a tired Mississippi State team 81-72 in the early game of the day.  The Bulldogs were one day removed from a game against Kentucky which took a good effort, combined with a little luck from the basketball gods, to win.

Florida (28-5), who demolished Georgia in their first tournament game, faced Ole Miss today in their semifinal matchup.  The Rebels (20-12) were coming off a pretty impressive win over the LSU Tigers yesterday, so this was not a team to take lightly by an means.

That being said, the Gators made it look easy, almost as easy as they did yesterday against Georgia, beating the Rebels 80-59.  This win sent Florida to the championship game, something that they have won the past two seasons.

A few quick points from this game, although it's tough to really analyze a game in which the Gators totally overwhelmed their opponent:

  • This game was just another example of how important it is to get out to a fast start for the Gators, especially when they're playing defense up to their ability.  After the much-noted 17-0 run to start yesterday's win over Georgia, the Gators started this game 13-2 and got the Rebels in a whole quickly.  This changed the whole landscape of the game, as Ole Miss was forced to try and go on big runs to claw back -- something that the Gators answered throughout the entire game.
  • Beautiful performance from Corey Brewer in this one, as he looked completely unguardable by the Rebels' undersized forwards defending him.  Brewer shot 9-16, scoring 22 points, and in a way looked to return to his form he showed us in last year's NCAA tournament.  He looked under control on his dribble drives and got open several times around the perimeter.  Unfortunately he had 4 turnovers, though, but that's nothing too extreme.  He made up for it in all of the other areas.
  • Lee Humphrey went 5-8 shooting from the three-point line and seemed to be the same "Humpty" we saw midway through the conference schedule.  He was getting open along the arc, and his teammates did a great job of finding him in this one.  He's a very important piece of this team because he can be described as a "zone-buster."  Ole Miss thought their best chance at stopping the Gators attack was with a zone defense today, and Humphrey made him pay from three-point land.
  • Ole Miss had a strong half pressing the Gators in Gainesville earlier this season, forcing several turnovers and creating points off of them.  With the Gators taking the lead and control of the game, the Rebels once again tried to create this high-pressure defense. Today I feel Taurean Green handled this defense much better, as well as Horford and Noah.  They never really got flustered, and it showed -- the Gators only had 10 turnovers on the game.
  • Speaking of Green, he had a great day at the point.  He had six assists and really commanded the offense well today.  His penetration drives down the lane today showed us the way in which he is most effective, which can include not only scoring but dishing it out to Humphrey and Brewer on the perimeter.
The past two games have showed us once again how good this Florida team can be.  With the prospect of a third-straight SEC tournament title on the horizon, I'm expecting another great performance tomorrow against Arkansas.

The Hogs have played three straight games, so fatigue could play a role in tomorrow's game. However they looked pretty fresh today in their victory and they're playing for their tournament lives -- with a tournament title perhaps their only ticket -- so I'm expecting them to be just as intense in their efforts.

I'm very excited for tomorrow.  This group of guys is special, every one of them, and it's a joy to have watched them the last three seasons.  I hope that, if it does happen to be their last SEC tournament as a group, tomorrow brings them success in Atlanta once again.

Go Gators!