The red-hot Florida Gators put their flawless SEC record on the line on Wednesday evening, as they welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to Gainesville for a conference showdown at the O'Connell Center.
By virtue of their current eight-game win streak, Florida continues to climb the national polls, beginning this week as the fourth-ranked team in the country. The Gators are an impressive 16-2 on the year and haven't lost since a 67-61 setback to Kansas State on Dec. 22. UF has won all six of its SEC matchups thus far, including an 82-47 rout of Mississippi State this past weekend in Starkville.
The Gamecocks lack the wave of momentum that Florida brings into this game, although South Carolina does come in off a victory, a 75-54 lopsided win over Arkansas last Saturday. Still, USC is buried in the SEC standings at a mere 2-4. The team is 12-7 overall, but just 1-3 in true road games.
Florida has won three straight and 10 of the last 13 meetings to move to 39-22 all-time against South Carolina. The Gators are 18-7 against the Gamecocks at home.
Brian Richardson put up 20 points and six rebounds off the bench, leading the Gamecocks to a rather easy victory over the Razorbacks at Colonial Life Arena on Saturday. The margin of victory marked the team's largest in conference play for USC since 2009. Bruce Ellington and Lakeem Jackson played integral roles in the win as well, finishing with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
The Gamecocks have been mediocre at best offensively, averaging 71.6 ppg, on .444 shooting. To make matters worse, leading scorer LaShay Page (11.7 ppg) has not been able to suit up since the beginning of January due to academics and will be out the rest of the season. Brenton Williams is a close second on the roster, now netting 11.6 ppg. Ellington and Jackson are just under the double-digit mark at 9.7 and 9.6 ppg, respectively. Jackson, who is shooting a team-best .615 from the floor, is also the team's top rebounder, grabbing 7.1 caroms per outing.
Florida put on an offensive clinic including draining 14 3-pointers in the lopsided win over the Bulldogs this past weekend. Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy combined for eight of those 3-pointers and netted 18 points each in the win. Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin added 13 points apiece in support. The Gators got the job done defensively as well, holding its seventh opponent under 50 points this season.
The Gators are one of the nation's premier defensive squads, holding opponents to a mere 51.2 ppg (third nationally), on just .361 shooting (fifth nationally). The team has also done a great job on the glass, boasting of a +8.6 rebounding margin. Scoring depth comes in the form of four of five starters averaging double figures. Boynton leads the way with 13.6 ppg. Murphy ranks second on the team with 12.8 ppg, followed by Mike Rosario and Young at 11.8 and 11.2 ppg, respectively.