The Florida Gators got a tougher-than-expected challenge from Army on Wednesday in their season opener, needing a second-half comeback led by Tre Mann and Tyree Appleby to fend off the previously unbeaten Black Knights.
But while Boston College comes into its Thursday night tussle with the Gators (9:30 p.m., ESPN2 or WatchESPN) with a blemished 1-2 record, the Eagles won’t be clipped easily.
BC’s two losses are to Villanova and St. John’s, likely to be top-shelf teams in this year’s Big East, and they came by a combined 13 points in wildly disparate games: The 76-67 loss to the Wildcats covered 64 possessions, but the Eagles hung with the Red Storm for a daunting 85 possessions in a 97-93 defeat. That stylistic versatility speaks well for Jim Christian’s bunch, especially after back-to-back losing seasons.
And if the Eagles are going to make a push to get back to being a winning bunch in 2020-21, Wynston Tabbs is likely to be at the core of it. The redshirt sophomore sat for all of last season with injury, but has been stellar so far this season, scoring 50 points over BC’s first three games despite making just four of 14 threes. And the scoring guard’s usage percentage is well into the 30s, so it’s clear he’s got the green light to shoot or make plays, most likely by dishing to Jay Heath and Rich Kelly, his fellow guards.
But don’t be surprised to see the Eagles play four- or even five-out offense, as forward C.J. Felder (3-for-7) and Steffon Mitchell (5-for-9) are leading BC in efficiency from three so far.
Florida, by contrast, made just four threes against Army, and would probably like to get more production on the perimeter to balance an offense that pounded the Black Knights inside to earn 36 free throws — especially because the Gators made just 24 of them. If Scottie Lewis and Keyontae Johnson, each held under 30 minutes because of foul trouble in that opener, can do more to dominate what should be undersized wing defenders, it might bring the sorts of doubles that would free up Noah Locke to snipe from range.