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Gator Basketball at Mississippi Preview

It is cliché to say that a game is a test. Saturday's game against Kentucky is a test. The Gators first game at Knoxville is a test. Their first SEC tournament game will be a test. You wouldn't normally think that tonight's game in Oxford is a test, but it is. Think about this; the Gators played two incomplete squads to start SEC play. Alonzo Gee and Richard Hendrix were great against UF, but Bama is missing Ronald Steele. Saturday, Auburn played with only seven scholarship players. Not only is Ole Miss at full strength, but they can pound inside which is a weakness for UF. It will take a special effort to pull this off.

Ole Miss is 1-1 in SEC play (loss to UT, win vs. LSU). Both were close games but had two continuing themes; Ole Miss cannot play behind the arc and they break down in the second half. Against UT, the Rebels made one less shot in the second half, but were a horrific 2-10 from 3-point range. If you saw the game you would have seen Tennessee sinking towards the hoop late to make Ole Miss hit long jumpers because Ole Miss outscored UT 44-36 in the paint. Three point shooting (UT was 46.2% for three in the game) kept the Vols in front.

On the flip side, the Rebs held on for dear life in defeating LSU 74-71. Nearly blowing a 22 point lead at the midpoint of the second frame, LSU knocked down five 3-pointers to close the gap. That is where UF can attack. Ole Miss is allowing opponents to shoot 35.4% from 3-point range. That is 10th in the league, ahead of Auburn and Bama. The Gators are third in 3-point percentage, hitting at almost a 40% clip. I'd expect to see everyone not named 'Speights' chucking it tonight.