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Florida vs. Stetson, Game Thread: Will Gators stay whole against upset-minded Hatters?

Florida’s Sunday foe has already upended one prominent Sunshine State squad this season.

NCAA Basketball: Stetson at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Stetson 83, Florida State 74. Florida Atlantic 76, Florida 74.

Those are two pairs of numbers that Florida ought to have posted throughout its facilities prior to the Hatters coming to town this Sunday, intent on doing what they did against the Seminoles to the Gators — like the Owls did.

But there are two other relevant pairs of numbers I hope that Todd Golden and his staff emphasized over the last few days: 14-for-35 and 13-for-24.

Those are the threes — made-and-attempted — by Stetson and FAU in those two upsets, and they tell much of the tale of those two games: The Hatters scored more than half of their points against FSU behind the arc, and the Owls accomplished the same feat in Gainesville, but also shot far better from distance (54 percent) than inside (just 36 percent).

Florida doing a better job against Stetson’s shooters than it did against FAU’s would obviously go a long way toward staving off a second Hatters trick this season. Whether that will come to pass is probably up to the Gators’ leaky perimeter defense, which is allowing opponents to shoot a very good 38 percent from three, a figure outside the nation’s top 300 in that category.

The quality of opponent also really hasn’t mattered much when it comes to Florida’s ability to prevent threes — or keep them from going in. Every Florida opponent has hoisted at least 16 threes against Florida; only FSU has made fewer than six. Every Florida opponent other than an extremely short-handed Stony Brook and FSU has shot 35 percent or better from distance against the Gators.

Stetson is in the nation’s top 40 in three-point shooting percentage, in the top 25 in percentage of shots allocated to threes, and No. 12 in percentage of points from three. Former Billy Donovan assistant Donnie Jones will, no doubt, draw up a game plan to get the Hatters more heaves from beyond the arc.

It’s up to the Gators — who will have Will Richard on hand for this one, but will still be without Kyle Lofton — to figure out how to either limit that damage from distance or to score more than Stetson despite a barrage. And while FSU couldn’t do that, both Niagara and Campbell, not exactly top-tier mid-majors, did.

So if the Gators don’t, and squander the progress made in a midweek rout of Florida A&M? It will probably be about that Achilles’ heel being pierced from afar.