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Florida vs. Long Beach State, Game Thread: Gators get a get-right game for the holidays

And Florida’s frustrating non-conference campaign could use a cherry on top.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Florida vs Arkansas Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators of the hardwood could use a post-holiday treat after their rugged non-conference schedule — one that has produced uneven play and more than a little frustration with the team in the Florida fan base.

Enter Long Beach State, Saturday’s opponent for the Gators’ undercard of a game on a day that will feature both College Football Playoff semifinals.

The Beach — why not just riff on Dirtbags for all the other team names, if you’re gonna go with a name that dumb? — come(s) to Gainesville (noon, SEC Network) a couple spots to the good of the 300s on KenPom, and as arguably just the third genuinely bad team that Florida will see this year. (Of Florida’s opponents to date, only Saint Joseph’s, at 3-10, and Marshall, at 5-7, are under .500 — some feat, given that opponents like North Florida and Towson have been playing buy games during non-conference play.) At 4-10, and with a lone notable win over up-and-down Providence — which thumped Texas days after being vivisected by the Gators last week — Long Beach State is no threat to make postseason play.

And that should be good for the Gators, who could use a big win over an overmatched team for the sake of having confidence heading into SEC play. They’re favored by more than 20 on this afternoon, and even not having Scottie Lewis, who’ll miss the game after suffering a concussion in practice this week, shouldn’t be a major issue. About the only thing the Beach does well is shoot threes (35.4 percent), and its struggles to do much of anything else well should end its chances of being competitive early.

Unless, of course, Florida wants to play down to its opponent’s level.