Missouri and Florida battle it out for an SEC victory. Which group of athletes has the advantage on paper?
TV Schedule: Saturday, January 20, 8:00 pm ET (ESPNU)
Location: Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri
Missouri (8-9) is four games into the conference schedule and still looking for their first win. The Tigers are 0-4 in SEC play for the first time since the 2016-17 season. On Tuesday night against Alabama, Mizzou fought hard for 30 minutes before letting the game get out of hand, dropping the matchup 93-75. Nick Honor finally broke out of his shooting slump, making four threes on his way to 18 points, scoring in double figures for the first time since the Seton Hall loss nearly a month prior.
Sean East II continues to play at a high level, leading Missouri in scoring with 16.5 points per game. Three other Tigers are also scoring in double figures, Noah Carter with 13.8 points, Tamar Bates with 11.3 points, and Nick Honor with 10.8 points per game.
Missouri averages 75.5 points per game, and Bates’ recent uptick in scoring is helping Mizzou keep the offense going. He has scored in double figures in each of the last seven games. Not to be outdone, Carter has added more than ten points in each of the last five games.
The Tigers have struggled on defense this season, giving up 73.9 points per game. Missouri’s opponents are making nearly 51 percent of their 2-point field goals. But not all is bad with this Mizzou defense. The Tigers are top 50 in the country in steals with 8.6 per game and are 16th in blocks with 5.5 per game.
The next opportunity for Missouri to pick up a conference win is on Saturday when they host Florida (11-6). The Gators are 1-3 in SEC games and are also looking to bounce back after a bad loss. In their last game, Florida fell to Tennessee 85-66 in Knoxville. Walter Clayton Jr led the Gators with 16 points in the loss.
Florida has one of the best offenses in the country, averaging 85.5 points per game. The Gators are led in scoring by Clayton with 15.9 points per game and Zyon Pullin is adding just under 15 points. Three other Florida players are averaging more than ten points per game.
The Gators are an excellent rebounding team. They lead the nation in rebounds per game with 44.9 per game and are second with 16.5 offensive rebounds. This is bad news for Missouri since they only average 32.7 rebounds per game. But Florida has struggled on the defense end this year. The Gators are allowing 76.5 points per game.
I think this will be a fast-paced matchup with little defense played. Florida puts up a ton of shots, 66.5 per game. Five teams in the country average more shots than the Gators. Missouri will need to find a way to limit some of Florida’s possessions, mainly keeping them off the offensive glass.
The Tigers need to play a full 40-minute game, something they haven’t done lately. Missouri needs to make Florida play at their pace, letting the game come to them instead of playing at a pace the offense can’t sustain to get the win.
Mizzou is capable of taking down this Florida team. The biggest question is whether or not the Tigers can play consistently enough on both ends of the floor to get the win on their home court.