Florida's women's basketball team is already having one of the best seasons in program history, with four wins over ranked opponents and a lofty perch in the bone-tough SEC after being picked to finish near the conference's cellar.
On Thursday night on SEC Network+, the Gators can vault their 2015-16 regular season to the top of the list of their all-time campaigns by staging an upset of No. 2 South Carolina.
It won't be easy. The Gamecocks were undefeated coming into the week, and played well in fits and starts against No. 1 and likely national champion UConn in a showdown of lossless squads on Monday, though the 66-54 final score is closer than the contest felt. If A'ja Wilson is fully recovered from an injury suffered in that game, South Carolina undoubtedly has the SEC's best frontcourt, as Wilson and Alaina Coates are formidable and nearly impregnable inside. And with Tiffany Mitchell to break down perimeter defenses, it's not as if Dawn Staley's Gamecocks are one-dimensional.
But Florida's pace and pressure have tripped up a slew of very good teams already this season. Florida ranks fourth nationally in possessions per game and first in defensive turnover rate, artifacts of an up-tempo style predicated on pressing and running for 40 minutes. Ronni Williams remains the Gators' best player when she isn't fighting foul trouble, and she's better-equipped to run for 40 minutes as a junior than ever before — plus, in guards Carlie Needles, Cassie Peoples, and Eleanna Christinaki, she has running mates in the backcourt.
If Florida can upend the Gamecocks before what is certain to be a live crowd hoping its team can bounce back from a disappointment against the mighty Huskies, it will rank among the program's finest wins ever — and thrust the Gators directly into contention for an SEC title.
No pressure. Just pressure.