Gainesville, FL – The fifth-ranked Florida Gators continue their run towards the SEC title, as they welcome the Arkansas Razorbacks to the O'Connell Center for a league showdown on Saturday.
Billy Donovan's Gators hold a one game lead over Alabama in the conference standings, sitting atop the SEC at 11-2. Still, Florida did stumble this week, having a three-game win streak halted with a 63-60 loss on the road at Missouri.
Mike Anderson's Razorbacks are certainly no strangers to road woes. Arkansas is 17-9 overall, with 16 of those wins coming in Fayetteville. Arkansas is just 1-6 in true road games this year, but that lone road win came on Feb. 13 at Auburn, the start of the team's current three-game win streak. On Thursday, UA got by Georgia at home, 62-60 and is now 8-5 in league play.
Florida holds a 15-11 edge in the all-time series with Arkansas, but it is the Razorbacks seeking the regular-season sweep after earning an 80-69 victory over the Gators at home on Feb. 5.
BJ Young hit the game-winning shot with six seconds left, as Arkansas kept its winning ways going with a two-point win on Thursday night. Freshman Anthlon Bell led the team in scoring with a career-high 17 points, fueled by five 3- pointers. Marshawn Powell added 11 points in the low-scoring affair, as both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor.
Scoring has come much easier for the Razorbacks on the season, as the team is netting a healthy 75.5 ppg, on .445 shooting. Just a sophomore, Young has become a consistent scoring threat, shooting .463 overall and ranking fourth in the SEC in scoring at 16.2 ppg. Powell is converting just over 52 percent from the floor and is a close second in the scoring column for Arkansas at 15.1 ppg (fifth in the conference). Another area of strength for Arkansas is the team's ball control. The Razorbacks hold a +6.5 turnover margin, forcing 17.9 turnovers per game, while committing just 11.5 miscues.
The Gators held a 13-point lead at the midway point of the second half, but the Tigers came roaring back to earn the three-point win at home. Mike Rosario led the way in defeat with 14 points. Kenny Boynton and Michael Frazier chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively, but the Gators shot just 40.7 percent from the floor and was dominated on the glass, getting outrebounded 40-28.
Allowing Missouri back in the game is certainly not something that has been commonplace for Florida this season. The Gators rank third nationally in scoring defense (53.0 ppg) and sixth in field-goal percentage defense (.374), while holding a +20.7 scoring margin and a +6.3 rebounding edge. Scoring depth comes in the form of four of the five starters averaging double figures, led by Boynton's 13.0 ppg. Rosario is a close second at 12.9 ppg, followed by Erik Murphy (12.5 ppg) and Patric Young (10.1 ppg). Scottie Wilbekin adds 9.3 ppg and is the top distributor on the team at 5.4 apg (second in the SEC).