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Florida vs. Texas A&M, Game Thread: Gators seek win streak in heart of Texas

Can the Gators upset one of the SEC's better teams?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite its struggles, Kentucky is, as could probably have been easily predicted, the SEC's best team per KenPom, checking in at a surprisingly low No. 18 in the rankings entering Tuesday. And the SEC's No. 2 team in those efficiency-based stats is No. 20 South Carolina, one of the nation's last two undefeated teams.

No. 21 Texas A&M, the team that welcomes No. 30 Florida to Reed Arena for a Tuesday night tussle (7:00 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN), however, is third, and so the Gators have an upset to pull if they want a two-game winning streak.

The Aggies have been as good as they are because of one of the great things about not recruiting fantastic players out of high school: Those players tend to stick around and improve. Texas A&M now has a trio of them — Alex Caruso, Jalen Jones, and Danuel House — who lead this team. House and Jones each average better than 15 points per game, while crafty point guard Caruso is scoring about eight points and dishing five assists per contest.

Add in 11 points and six rebounds per outing from freshman center Tyler Davis, and the Aggies have the nucleus of a very good team; wins over Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas State, Texas, and the Tennessee team that whitewashed Florida a week ago have given them the profile of an NCAA Tournament participant, too.

The Aggies' only prominent weakness is foul shooting, one Florida shares, so prepare for this one to be ugly if the refs whistle everything. Their greatest overall strength is balance — A&M is in the top 35 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency — but the Aggies' most granular standout ability comes in turning opponents over (they're 12th nationally in defensive Turnover Rate), something Caruso's excellence (he's ninth in Steal Rate) has spearheaded — but that runs into maybe Florida's only offensive strength, an impressive ability to avoid turnovers (the Gators are 11th nationally in offensive Turnover Rate).

Florida will almost certainly have to lean on its resilient defense again to upset the Aggies, as it lacks the firepower to win a shootout. But if the Gators can avoid turnovers and control or keep close in a game like they did against LSU, their chances of springing a trap in Reed Arena will go way up — and they might just come away with their first SEC winning streak under Mike White.