The Florida Gators have rolled right into the SEC Tournament Final, and now, they can claim the league’s title and perhaps a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament when they take on the Ole Miss Rebels.
The Rebels are almost certainly in the NCAA Tournament now that they have reached the finale of the SEC Tournament. They took care of the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday with a huge second half effort. G Marshall Henderson has had a heck of a tournament here in Nashville. He put up 27 points in the semifinals against the Missouri Tigers, and he came back and scored 23 against the Commodores. F Reginald Buckner came forth with a double-double in the game against an undersized Vandy outfit, putting up 15 points and 10 rebounds. He also shot 6-of-7 from the field. Ole Miss would have won the game by a heck of a lot more points had they not shot 16-of-32 from the charity stripe. This has been a problem for most of the season for the Rebs, who only shoot right around 69% from the foul line this year.
The Gators didn’t quite cover against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Semifinals, but they overcame a relatively lousy first half by putting together a dominating second half to put the Tide away. Alabama will miss out on the NCAA Tournament as a result, while Florida is trying to get up towards the top seed in the dance. The Gators have continued their defensive domination of the SEC. They are allowing just 55.0 points per game in their last 11 outings. Florida ranks third in the nation, allowing 53.3 points per game, and teams are knocking down just 37.4 percent of their shots from the field. Of course, on the other side of the court, the Gators are flat out awesome as well. They are putting together 71.9 points per game this year, ranking 65th in the nation, and they’re shooting 48.5 percent from the floor. Florida is a much healthier team right now than it was for a good chunk of the SEC season. G Michael Frazier II has a finger issue, while F Erik Murphy has a knee problem, but both of these men have been playing through the pain.
The only meeting this year between these two teams really wasn’t all that close. The Gators took a 40-27 lead at the half and ultimately ended up winning by just 14. Florida could have won that one by 25-30 if it really wanted to. Once again, this is a game that is all about intent. If the Gators have the desire to win this game, they’ll win it by at least a dozen points. If they don’t, Ole Miss will have a shot. We have seen UF play well with the exception of about 15 minutes of basketball against the Crimson Tide, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t ultimately come forth with another big time effort. Florida 78 – Ole Miss 63
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.