Last Wednesday, the Florida Gators men’s basketball team met the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge in a game that appeared to be a mismatch of substantial proportions on paper — and went on to make a school-record 19 threes in a 35-point win.
This Thursday, in Gainesville (7 p.m., ESPN2 or WatchESPN), the Gators face the Missouri Tigers — who are so, so much worse.
This is saying something, yes, given that LSU gave up 106 points to the Gators and appeared at various junctures of that game to have very little interest in playing basketball. But Missouri might be the worst team in a major conference in all of college basketball.
The Tigers are 5-15, and the best of those five wins came against Western Kentucky — now just 11-11, 5-4 in Conference USA, and No. 243 in KenPom — by three points at home, in a game in which neither team could muster even 0.85 points per possession. In its last two outings, Missouri has scored 0.76 points per possession against South Carolina and given up 1.37 points per possession to Mississippi State, showing an incredible knack for being awful at both ends of the court.
Kim Anderson’s team is on a 12-game losing streak, and last won on December 6. It hasn’t been quite as bad as it could have been on the road in SEC play — it has kept every margin within 19 points, which is something, I guess — but it has also not won a true road game this season, its lone win away from home coming over lowly Tulane in the pre-Thanksgiving Tire Pros Invitational at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.
Missouri is No. 291 in adjusted offensive efficiency, and has come by that futility honestly, with an abysmal 44.5 percent effective field goal percentage that reflects a 27.9 percent connection rate on long-distance dials and makes on a woeful 46.1 percent of its twos. One Tiger, Terrence Phillips, makes better than a third of his threes — and if he misses his first one against the Gators, he will be exactly 30-for-90 on the year.
Missouri is better on defense, sure — it would be very difficult not to be — and defends fairly well everywhere but the rim, but simply should not have the talent to beat these Gators on this night, even if Florida is staring directly to its Saturday showdown with Kentucky.