On Saturday Florida (9-4, 1-0 SEC) opened its SEC slate with an wild 104-98 double overtime victory over scrappy Alabama. The Gators rallied from an 8-point deficit with less than 2 minutes remaining to notch the win. In that game guard Andrew Nembhard led the Gators with 25 points. However, it was 6-foot-10 Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr.’s double-double which consisted of 24 points and 16 rebounds that likely proved to be the difference in this game. It was a big win for Florida but keep in mind they were facing the worst defense in the SEC. Guard Noah Locke is the Gator’s biggest 3-point shooting threat this season. He’s made 29 threes already to lead his team. Blackshear, as expected, is the team’s Mr. Windex. He’s averaging 9 boards a game, good for 4th in the SEC. One thing that makes big man Blackshear even more effective is his free throw shooting ability (84%). No fouling this guy. Nembhard has been a solid ball handler for the Gators so far. He’s third in the SEC in assists with 75.
South Carolina (8-5, 0-0 SEC), has seen very good and very bad in its non-conference slate. The Gamecocks have an impressive win at Virginia but have lost to the likes of Stetson and Boston University. Both those losses happened in Columbia. The Stetson game came after the long Christmas break, on December 30. The game on Tuesday night will be just South Carolina’s second game since the win at Virginia. Guard A.J. Lawson leads the Gamecocks in scoring (15.5 ppg). He’s the only Gamecock that averages in double figures. South Carolina is a pretty solid team defensively, allowing just 64 points per game. However, one glaring weakness for the Gamecocks is shooting. They are dead last in the SEC in free throw accuracy making just over 60%. They are also 11th in field goal percentage (43.7%) and 13th in three point shooting (28.6%).
Playing in Columbia, this is a game that could go either way. I like the Gamecocks playing at home though. They are well rested and well coached. If they could win at Virginia they should be able to handle Florida. Also consider the fact that Florida is coming off a very thrilling win over Alabama. They may be a little deflated for this one.