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Florida vs. Mississippi, Game Thread: Gators want to avoid Moody blues

For Florida, the key to beating Mississippi is stopping Stefan Moody.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators have struggled to score and struggled on the road, and there's plenty to fear as they tip off in Oxford against Mississippi (8 p.m., ESPN2 or WatchESPN) on this Saturday night. Or, really, there's one important thing to fear — and that's Stefan Moody.

The SEC has some explosive scorers this year: Ben Simmons is majestic, Jamal Murray is going to be a lottery pick, and Kevin Punter has been incredible for Tennessee. Moody is scoring more points per game than all of them. The diminutive guard has scored 20 or more points in all but two games this year, and 18 or more in all but one. And he does it all fairly efficiently, too, somehow posting an Offensive Rating of 114.3 despite using a titanic share — almost a third — of the Rebels' possessions, thanks to an ability to draw fouls and make freebies that would make Marshall Henderson jealous.

He and Sebastian Saiz are also just about all the Rebels have. Saiz averages 12 and 10, and is a fine per-possession rebounder and shot-blocker; he's an energetic presence Florida will need to contend with. Beyond that? Mississippi doesn't have another player who averages nine points per game, a rebounder who tallies more than five and a half rebounds per game, a distributor who dishes more than two assists per game, or a shooter who makes more than a third of his threes. (Moody fits both of the last two categories, though.)

And the Rebels are also not very good on defense. They've held just two teams under 0.929 points per possession on the year, and are coming off their worst defensive game of the year, a 90-81 shelling at the hands of LSU that featured Mississippi allowing 1.235 points per possession.

Florida doesn't have much of an offense to speak of, in fairness, and the Gators' defense has slipped from fantastic to very, very good since the beginning of SEC play. But Florida has a better chance of scoring on Mississippi than Mississippi does of doing the reverse, I think, even though Simmons and Punter have proven that superlative scorers can get theirs against the Gators if they get hot.

Can the Gators finally win a true road game for the first time since the first game of the season — one that wasn't really a "true" road game? We'll see.