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Florida vs. Incarnate Word, Game Thread: Gators seek happy pre-Christmas feeling

The Gators close their non-conference schedule with a tomato can.

NCAA Basketball: James Madison at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The thing to know about the team the Florida Gators are facing on this Friday evening (7 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN) — two nights before Christmas Eve, three days before Christmas — is that Incarnate Word is bad at basketball.

The Cardinals are 5-4 on the season, which I suppose is worth lauding, but their record reflects a 3-0 start to the year against non-Division I foes, and just one win over a D-1 team — the University of Missouri-Kansas City — to date. In their only games against teams anywhere near Florida’s talent or performance level, the Cardinals have been skunked by 39 at Houston and 35 at Gonzaga.

And though Florida did just struggle with a massive underdog in the form of James Madison, the Gators have not faced a roster as fully overmatched as Incarnate Word’s since the first week of the season, when the Gators torched Gardner Webb and North Florida.

Things have been different — to put it lightly — for Florida since then, but if the Gators wanted to maybe find their shooting stroke again and make what should be a blowout into one, that would be a cool Christmas present to Gator Nation.

And if they don’t? Well, the next eight days between this game and Florida’s SEC opener against Vanderbilt may be a bit more uneasy than even the typical holidays with family can be.