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Florida vs. Arkansas, Game Thread: Can the Gators score a second straight big win?

The Gators scrapped and clawed for a massive win over Auburn. Can they do it again?

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Florida Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Florida’s 63-62 win over Auburn on Saturday was a breath of fresh air for the Gators — even if their final minute or so of defending their lead felt perhaps too breathtaking for comfort. But the Gators cannot rest on those laurels alone and hope to make the NCAA Tournament: They will probably need another excellent win or a few solid ones to sneak into the bottom part of the bracket.

Enter Arkansas, which presents the profile of an excellent win but has not won in Gainesville in decades. For these Gators, this Tuesday night clash with the Razorbacks (7 p.m., ESPN2 or WatchESPN) is a golden chance.

It will not be an easy one. Eric Musselman’s Hogs have recovered from their own 0-3 start to SEC play — one in which they fell to Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Texas A&M while Florida was taking lumps from Alabama, Auburn, and LSU — and gone 11-1 since, their lone loss coming at Alabama. They gave Auburn its only other loss in 2022, and have won in a variety of ways over the last six weeks, from scoring 99 points at Georgia to holding Tennessee to 48 points in Fayetteville last Saturday.

And they’re talented inside and out, with rising star Jaylin Williams looking like a future NBA player since this SEC tear began and superstar J.D. Notae threatening to go for 30 on any given night.

What Arkansas lacks offensively is one great three-point shooter — South Dakota transfer Stanley Umude’s 35 percent clip leads the team by a bit, and a pair of six-triple games in his last five outings had to push that number that high. What Arkansas does defensively has not kept foes from having decent shooting nights or traipsing to the line, though their run-and-then-run-more tempo has helped keep points per possession low.

But if Miami transfer Chris Lykes, Notae, and Umude aren’t turning it over — and they don’t, generally — then there will probably be plenty of shots for those three, Williams, and Pitt transfer Au’Diese Toney to share. And Florida might not be able to match what the Hogs get from those chances.

If the Gators can limit chances, convert their own — building on the shooting from their upset of Auburn would be great — and at least keep things close on the boards, though, they’ll follow a formula that just worked once for a big win.