A two-loss week is not something you want on your resume this late in the season, but that’s just what the Florida Gators have. Last week, the Gators were blown out by the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats and followed up that loss with a defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Volunteers. With the next two on the road – including Tuesday night’s game against the Alabama Crimson Tide – Florida needs to make an impression and come away with two wins.
Opponent: Alabama Crimson Tide
When: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 – 7:00 PM
Where: Tuscaloosa, AL
Television/Radio: ESPN, GatorVision
Records: Florida: 19-6 (7-3 SEC, 2-5 Away), Alabama: 16-8 (5-5 SEC, 10-2 Home)
Rankings: Florida: 12/14, Alabama: NR
Current Streak: Florida: L2, Alabama: L1
Point Spread: Florida -3.5
Calculated Score: Florida 68-64
Points Scored: Florida: 78.8, Alabama: 66.1
Points Allowed: Florida: 65.9, Alabama: 58.3
Last Meeting: Florida 78-51 (March 1, 2011)
This could be seen as a winner-takes-all game of sorts. Florida and Alabama only face each other once in the regular season and this Valentine’s Day matchup is it. There’s always the possibility of an SEC Tournament game between the two, but that hasn’t happened since the 2007-08 season when the NIT-bound Gators lost to the Crimson Tide.
This – like the last – is a must-win game for Florida, but with each building loss there becomes more truth to that statement. After dropping a second game to the Vols, the Gators need to rebound with a win or the NCAA Tournament selection committee is going to start to wonder exactly what to do with this Florida squad. Billy Donovan may need to have a heart-to-heart with his players if he hasn’t already. They need to realize what each loss does not only for their tourney prospects, but also for their confidence going forward. As more and more shots don’t fall, there’s a chance some of the younger players are questioning their abilities. Donovan needs to erase that thought from their minds and get them moving in the right direction. A convincing win over Alabama can do that.
Both squads will miss players for this game. The Gators will be without sophomore forward Will Yeguete and junior guard Mike Rosario due to injury while the Tide will miss suspended forwards senior JaMychal Green and junior Tony Mitchell. On paper, losing their leading scorers hurts Bama more, but Yeguete is a key part of Florida’s system and will be missed as someone that provides key minutes when sophomore forward/center Patric Young is on the bench.
It’s Donovan versus his former assistant Anthony Grant in a game both teams need to come out of victorious.