In the two weeks since the Gators fell to South Carolina following a win over Kentucky, Florida has been uneven, bookending a two-game losing streak with wins over Baylor and LSU.
South Carolina has just been bad, losing four straight games by five or more points and failing to score a point per possession in three of them. The Gamecocks’ win over Florida looked like a bad loss for the Gators when it happened in late January; now, that’s a millstone around Florida’s collective neck, as Frank Martin’s team spirals further out of NCAA Tournament contention.
Theoretically, this would be the sort of team — a reeling and limited one — that Florida could triumph over on the road to start a winning streak that might grant needed confidence heading into the final weeks of a surprisingly rugged SEC schedule.
But South Carolina is still the team that gave Florida fits in Gainesville, and the program that has taken four of five games from the Gators by shutting down Florida’s perimeter shooting. The Gamecocks still have the volatile and versatile Chris Silva in the paint, and can still extend its physical man defense past the arc and dare Florida’s shooters to become slashers — something they do not do naturally, but did do well as shots failed to fall against LSU.
If Florida can either make the shots it didn’t when South Carolina came to town or alter its game plan when those shots a) don’t materialize or b) go through the net when they’re available to be taken, Florida should win this game.
But Florida should have win a few of the games it has lost this year — like that one against South Carolina. And it would be equally fitting for this team to faceplant or to save face on this Saturday.