A Top-20 showdown takes place in the Badger State tonight, as No. 11 Florida comes calling on No. 20 Wisconsin.
Both teams won their respective season openers, with the Gators taking down visiting North Florida last Friday, 77-69, and the Badgers knocking off St. John's in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 86-75.
Florida won its second SEC title in the last three years in 2012-13, and Billy Donovan's club advanced to its third straight Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators, who won their 23rd consecutive season opener last Friday, lost their top three scorers from a season ago, but some talented newcomers, both transfers and incoming freshmen, join four seniors to give the team a formidable presence on the floor at any given moment.
Wisconsin won its 12th straight season opener last Friday, and will attempt to compete in a Big Ten Conference that features several talented teams. The Badgers went 23-12 in 2012-13, logging a 12-6 league ledger along the way. They bowed to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game, 50-43, and then lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Ole Miss, 57-46.
Florida has won two of the previous three matchups between the clubs, the most recent of which took place in Gainesville last season, 74-56.
Casey Prather more than doubled his previous career-high as he poured in 28 points to lead Florida past visiting North Florida in the season opener last week. Michael Frazier tacked on a career-best 19 points and freshman Kasey Hill added 15 in the victory. Prather went 10-of-15 from the field, helping Florida knock down 44.4 percent of its total shots, despite missing eight of its 10 3-point attempts. Prather grabbed eight boards, and Frazier had nine, while Hill dished out a club-best four assists. The Gators were actually outrebounded in the game (37-35), but held UNF to 40.6 percent field goal efficiency while goading the Ospreys into 17 turnovers. A 27-8 edge in points from the foul line played an integral part in the outcome for Florida, which only missed five of its 32 free-throw attempts in the game.
The Badgers put forth a balanced effort in Friday's season-opening win over St. John's, as five players scored in double figures, led by Josh Gasser with 19 points. Sam Dekker added 16 points, while Ben Brust and Duje Dukan each chipped in with 15, the latter setting a new career high in the process. As a team, Wisconsin made good on 46.3 percent of its field goal attempts, draining 11-of-23 3-point tries along the way, and went 25-of-30 at the charity stripe. As for the Red Storm, they got 27 points from D'Angelo Harrison and 21 from JaKarr Sampson, but the team missed 11 of its 13 launches from long range. UW was dominated inside, SJU scoring 44 points in the paint compared to 24 for the Badgers, but they held the Storm to 23 points in the first half and used a 21-15 edge in bench points to help start the season on a positive note.