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Gators come to D.C. to challenge Eagles

Washington, D.C. (Sports Network) - A pair of teams with identical 5-2 records meet in Washington, D.C. this afternoon, as the 18th-ranked Florida Gators tangle with the American University Eagles as part of the BB&T Classic.

Florida took a four-game win streak into last Wednesday's Sunshine State showdown with unbeaten UCF in Orlando, but the Knights proved to the better team on that day, topping the Gators in a 57-54 final. The setback was the first for UF in 10 meetings with UCF. Florida's only other loss of this season came at home against Big Ten power Ohio State back on November 16th, and the team will open play in the always tough SEC at home against Ole Miss on January 8th.

After opening the season 5-0, American has stumbled in the last week, dropping back-to-back decisions to Columbia (64-62) and West Virginia (71-50). Still, the Eagles are off to their best start under head coach Jeff Jones, and they are the favorites to win the Patriot League this season.

Florida is 2-0 all-time against American, with the most recent meeting taking place last December and resulting in a 76-60 Gator triumph.

Vernon Macklin was on fire in Florida's recent matchup with UCF, going 10- of-11 from the floor to finish with a season-high 20 points, but it wasn't enough as the Gators fell to the Knights, 57-54. Erving Walker added 16 points and Kenny Boynton had 10 for UF, which shot 42 percent from the field, making good on just 2-of-13 three-point tries along the way. The Gators lost the game despite a 40-33 rebounding advantage, as the Knights hit 52 percent of their total shots in the opening half, but just 26.7 percent in the second. The backcourt combo of Boynton and Walker averages 27.5 ppg and has combined for 27 of Florida's 39 three-pointers on the season. Chandler Parsons rounds out the double-digit scorers for coach Billy Donovan's club with 10.4 ppg, and he is also grabbing 5.7 rpg to rank second behind Macklin's 5.9 rpg. As a team, the Gators are averaging 72.3 ppg on 48 percent field goal accuracy, while foes are scoring 62.1 ppg and hitting their shots at a 42.4 percent clip.

Much of American's success in the early going can be attributed to Vlad Moldoveanu, who has led the team in scoring five times and is averaging 21.3 ppg to rank 20th in the country. Stephen Lumpkins is netting 13.3 ppg and Troy Brewer another 13.1 ppg for the Eagles, who are hitting 43.1 percent of their field goal attempts for an average of 63.4 ppg. Moldoveanu poured in 19 points as American's only double-digit scorer in the last outing against West Virginia. The Eagles knocked down just 36.7 percent from the field overall, which included a dismal 3-of-15 showing from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers got a monster effort from Casey Mitchell who hit for 27 points, going 8-of-11 from the field and 10-of-11 at the free-throw line. WVU shot 51 percent from the floor.

12/05 10:37:52 ET