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GAME #28: Arkansas @ Florida

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NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas @ Florida Preview

Opponent: Florida Gators
Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Time: 6:00PM CDT
Place: Exactech Arena, Gainesville, Florida
TV/Streaming: ESPN2
All-Time Series: Florida leads 26-13
All-Time Series in Gainesville: Florida leads 14-2

The Gators – 17-10(7-7)

It’s been another underwhelming season for Mike White at Florida and fans are really starting to voice their disapproval. The Gators have some talent, but they seem to find themselves on the bubble a lot lately. While they did pick up a huge win over Auburn last week, there is still work to be done.

Florida is a one-man show in a lot of ways and that is Colin Castleton. Almost all of Mike White’s is ran through him in some fashion. You will see a ton of post-ups from the big man on Tuesday night. Last year, Castleton had 13 points and 6 rebounds in BWA. This year’s game will be a much tougher matchup for him.

The guards have been very inconsistent for Florida. Arkansas native Tyree Applebee and Phlandorus Fleming are the only other two double-digit scorers. They are efficient players though.

Florida is somehow a worse 3 point shooting team than Arkansas. They rank 322nd in 3-point percentage at 30.5%, but they attempt the 36th most 3s per game. That doesn’t seem like a recipe for success, but is the result of teams packing it in around Castleton.

The 2 players that worries me for Arkansas are Anthony Duruji and Myreon jones. Duruji has been very efficient. He’s strong and athletic. Arkansas has the size and strength to match it, but he is a good player. Jones was someone Arkansas recruited out of the portal. He’s a sharpshooter and can get hot. Arkansas’ defense has been incredible from 3 in SEC play. They can’t go backwards against Jones on that.

Florida has a negative rebounding margin on the year. Arkansas has rebounded well. If Florida wins, improved rebounding numbers will be a big reason why!

The Razorbacks – 21-6(10-4)

Can the Hogs break the streak? One infamous streak already ended this year for Arkansas, but we won’t talk about that one.

The Razorbacks have not won a game in Gainesville since 1995. That’s 13 straight losses at the home of the Gators. Florida was one of the better programs in college basketball during that time and Arkansas wandered in mediocrity. The question still remains: How is that possible?

Florida will slow the pace drastically and has played good defense for most of the season. This is a game that will require great discipline.

Castleton will no doubt go after Jaylin Williams. He will won’t to get him in foul trouble. He is their whole offense. J-Will must remain disciplined and not get in any foul trouble. J.D. Notae must do the same. In SEC play, Florida has played at the slowest pace among the league’s teams. Possessions will be limited. Arkansas gravely needs Notae on the floor for as many of them as possible.

For Arkansas, the keys to victory are simple and consistent. This team has struggled with turnovers at times. This isn’t the game to have a bunch.

Get to the foul line. I know...sounds repetitive from past previews, but it’s important every game for this team. The offense isn’t pretty so get the chance to have some free points. Florida doesn’t have a lot of depth so load them up with bench minutes.

Rebound. The key to great defense is finishing off the possession with a rebound. Then get out and run. Transition points could play a big role in this one.

I think the Hogs end the streak on Tuesday night. This one reeks of a trap game with #4 Kentucky coming to town on Saturday, but Eric Musselman has this team playing at all cylinders right now. I believe he will have them ready. I expect another low scoring affair.

Prediction: Arkansas 68, Florida 62