The Florida Gators men’s basketball team will begin their quest for the 2013 SEC Tournament on Friday. At 1:00 PM, the top-seeded Gators will face the LSU Tigers in Nashville, TN. LSU defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 68-63 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Gators are looking for their fourth conference tourney championship. Florida won its first three titles in back-to-back-to-back seasons from 2005 to 2007. The Gators, as you surely remember, would go on to win national championships after the final two of those three. Just a few short weeks ago, Florida was considered a national title contender again, but a 3-3 record over the final six games of the regular season has left many questions unanswered.
That 3-3 record is behind the Gators now. It doesn’t matter anymore. The postseason starts on Friday and Florida is only permitted one more loss. Not that we want that loss to occur, far from it, but there is one on the table.
We would prefer the Gators to make this easy on all of us and go 9-0 over the next few weeks. That would be the clean and simple end to this season’s story that we’re all looking for. We’ll take 8-1, 7-1, or even 6-1, but only if that loss comes in the next three days. Let’s throw those scenarios out though and go back to the 9-0 dream. Again, clean and simple.
The Gators and Tigers last faced each other in Baton Rouge, LA on January 12. Florida cruised to a 74-52 victory. Senior guard Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 20 points and junior forward Will Yeguete had a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. LSU struggled to find any sort of rhythm, only shooting 32.3% from the field.
The stakes are much higher this time around. For Florida, it’s about NCAA Tournament seeding. For LSU, it’s about survival. The Tigers will bring more against the Gators than they did two months ago. They have to. The Gators, on the other hand, look to prove they can live up to the lofty expectations that have faded in recent weeks. Florida is the team that should win not only on Friday, but on Saturday and Sunday as well. They question is if they will.