The Florida Gators men’s basketball team’s quixotic — or itinerant, or just weird — 2021-22 season continues on Wednesday, with a 3 p.m. game at Missouri (SEC Network or streaming) rescheduled from a primetime tip to accommodate the Gators getting out of the Show-Me State before it becomes Hoth.
The good news about this unusual affair is that it should be one of Florida’s less challenging games in recent memory.
The bad news? That’s should, not will.
Missouri is, yes, a losing team that will not be making postseason play barring the sort of revival usually reserved for figures from religious texts, one that has dropped games to Missouri-Kansas City — the school that Brandon McKissic transferred to Florida from — and Liberty and has been wiped off the court by Kansas (by 37), Illinois (by 25), Kentucky (by 27), and Arkansas (by 44) since mid-December alone.
And the Tigers will seemingly be without leader Javon Pickett, who suffered a head injury in Missouri’s loss to Iowa State last Saturday. That leaves Kobe Brown to shoulder an even larger percentage of the offensive load for the Tigers, and puts added pressure on perimeter players not as experienced as Pickett, a true senior.
But as must be said in every preview for this team, Florida lost to Texas Southern — a team worse than Missouri — at home. And Florida is still in its own depleted state, with Colin Castleton’s indefinite absence and Jason Jitoboh’s definite season-ending eye injury leaving the Gators’ frontcourt in its weird time-share between Anthony Duruji, C.J. Felder, and Tuongthach Gatkek.
The road games this team has played without Castleton have been losses. This game essentially can’t be one if Florida wants to be on the right side of the bubble come Selection Sunday.
So long as the Gators don’t match the conditions outside with their shooting, they should have the defense necessary to avoid such a defeat. But we’ve seen this team go cold.