The seventh-ranked Florida Gators will close out the month of November on a three-game homestand, beginning with Tuesday night's non-conference clash with the Savannah State Tigers.
Savannah State has been busy in the early going with five games, including four in five days last week. After back-to-back wins over North Florida (54-47) and Alabama State (59-54), the Tigers dropped their last bout at UCF (53-50) despite holding a lead with under two minutes to play. They have set themselves up with a brutal non-conference schedule this season, as they will also face Ohio State, Marquette and Marshall before starting Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play.
Florida's season has started off as planned with wins in every matchup, highlighted by a 74-56 home triumph over nationally-ranked Wisconsin. The Gators took care of business on Sunday against Middle Tennessee (66-45), pulling away late thanks to a stellar 58.8 percent shooting effort in the second half.
Florida won the only other meeting with Savannah State, 113-62, in January of 2006.
Savannah State has produced a mediocre field goal percentage of .431 through five games, but it has really struggled from behind the three-point line (.273) and at the charity stripe (55-of-88). The Tigers have shown plenty of teeth at the defensive end however, holding teams under 55 ppg on average, and they held an undefeated UCF squad to just 32.6 percent shooting the last time out. Leading the way for the Tigers was Rashad Hassan with 17 points on 8- of-14 from the floor. Hassan has consistently been the team's top scoring option, as he is putting up 16.0 ppg on nearly 70 percent field goal efficiency. Cedric Smith added 12 points and seven boards in the team's latest loss, while Preston Blackman chipped in 11 points on 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Blackman (10.2 ppg) is the only other player to average double figures in scoring on the year.
Florida has been lights out from the field so far this season (.514), and as a result it is outscoring the opposition by an average of 29.3 ppg. The squad's pace slowed down a bit against Middle Tennessee (.467), but it held the Blue Raiders to nearly as many turnovers (15) as made field goals (16) en route to the 21-point victory. Kenny Boynton continued his hot start with a team-high 20 points, while connecting on all seven of his free throw attempts. The Preseason All-SEC First Team selection has put up 17.3 ppg on more than 51 percent shooting from the field while also adding 5.3 rpg and 3.3 apg. Will Yeguete tallied a double-double in Sunday's win with 11 points and 13 boards, giving him averages of 7.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg on the season. Erik Murphy (15.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Mike Rosario (12.7 ppg) and Patric Young (9.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg) round out one of the best starting lineups in the nation.