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Florida vs. UCF, Game Thread: Gators get in-state foe in 2023 NIT

Florida will look to avoid the black mark of a loss to the Knights.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament Second Round - Mississippi State vs Florida Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

If you have a hard time getting up for Florida hosting UCF in the NIT, you probably have at least some sense of how difficult Wednesday night’s game will be for the Gators.

Before whatever subset of the fan base is coming out for a Wednesday night game against the Knights, Florida will try to avoid the ignominy of a first-round exit from the second-best postseason tournament of men’s college basketball being contested at that moment.

It may well come down to how well Florida defends UCF from the perimeter. Do-everything freshman forward Taylor Hendricks and senior guard C.J. Kelly each shoot around 40 percent from three, and while neither shoots an enormous volume of threes every game, their barrages have not been infrequent.

The Gators can match Hendricks and Kelly with Will Richard and Riley Kugel, of course, and are taking on a team a lot like their own in that UCF has played a lot of better teams tough while still taking a bunch of tough losses. That’s probably a recipe for a close game — though that might be an excruciating experience for Gators fans.