The Gators are back in action again tonight, after starting their season with a 80-59 victory over Florida Gulf Coast on Friday in Jacksonville; which marked the Gators’ 26th straight opening victory. This evening, Florida again plays in the Veterans’ Memorial Arena. The Gators have not played their first two games of the season away from home since 2001. Florida tips off tonight against Mercer at 8:00 p.m., on ESPNU.
The Gators started slow two days ago, but found a way to finish, with smothering defense and a 15-0 second half run that helped Florida put the Eagles away. Florida went 21-of-26 from the free-throw line. Devin Robinson led the Gators with 14 points, followed by John Egbunu and Canyon Barry, who had 13 each. Florida’s defense forced 19 turnovers, converting them into 24 points, as the Gators posted a +12 turnover margin against the Eagles.
Mercer won their first game Friday as well, beating NAIA program Brewton-Parker 87-53. The Bears actually have defeated the Gators seven out of the 12 times that the two teams have met, but the two programs have not played since 1979. Mercer has recorded some upsets over the last eight seasons, including over SEC teams like Alabama, Auburn, and Ole Miss. The Bears also notably defeated Duke in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Florida hopes to sweep their opening weekend neutral site games in Jacksonville tonight with a win. Tonight’s game will be the second of 11 games in a row which the Gators will play away from Gainesville, as construction finishes on the Exactech Arena O'Connell Center. Florida closed strong against the Eagles on Friday. Hopefully that momentum carries over into their meeting with Mercer tonight.