The 11th-ranked Florida Gators hit the road for two straight SEC affairs, starting with Saturday's clash with the LSU Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Billy Donovan's Gators are an impressive 11-2 on the season and bring a three- game win streak into Baton Rouge, after opening league play at home against Georgia on Wednesday with a 77-44 rout of the Bulldogs.
Johnny Jones' first season with the Tigers has been successful for the most part. His first SEC test however, wasn't ideal, as LSU dropped a 68-63 decision to Auburn on the road. The loss ended a brief two-game win streak and dropped LSU to 9-3 on the year. The Tigers do sport a flawless 8-0 mark in Baton Rouge this season.
These two teams have met 100 times prior to this season. The Tigers hold a 60-40 advantage overall, including a 33-12 mark in Baton Rouge. However, Florida has won each of the last three meetings.
The Gators get it done with stingy defensive play this season. The tram is allowing a mere 52.0 ppg to rank fourth nationally in that category. Opponents are shooting just .369 overall (12th nationally) and Florida enjoys a +8.0 rebounding margin, while forcing 15.2 turnovers per contest. The offensive numbers aren't bad either, with UF shooting an efficient .486 from the floor and putting up 73.5 ppg. Four Gators are currently averaging double figures, led by Kenny Boynton's 13.3 ppg. Fellow guard Mike Rosario is a close second at 12.3 ppg, followed by a pair of frontcourt contributors in forward Erik Murphy (12.0 ppg) and center Patric Young (10.8 ppg).
The Gators opened their league slate with an 11-0 run against Georgia and never looked back in a lopsided affair in Gainesville this week. Florida scored 27 points off of 19 Georgia turnovers and had four players notch double figures, led by Rosario's 19 points. Young and Murphy both posted 11 points, while Casey Prather finished with 10 in his first start.
The Tigers have shown plenty of scoring punch this season, averaging a healthy 76.0 ppg, while shooting .444 from the floor. Those numbers have come despite the team struggling at the free-throw line (.599). LSU's scoring depth is apparent, with five Tigers all making significant contributions. Shavon Coleman leads the team in both scoring (13.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.7 rpg). Andre Stringer is next in the scoring column (11.8 ppg), followed closely by Johnny O'Bryant (11.4 ppg), Anthony Hickey (10.9 ppg) and Charles Carmouche (10.3 ppg).
LSU failed to find its offensive rhythm in its loss to Auburn this week. The Tigers shot just .373 from the floor in the game, with three players netting double digits. Carmouche had a strong game, posting 15 points and seven assists. Stringer and Hickey chipped in with 13 points apiece. The Tigers once again had their problems from the charity stripe, converting just 4-of-10 opportunities.