A Florida Gators team that has postponed its last three games because of covid-19 testing and contact tracing is scheduled to oppose the Arkansas Razorbacks tonight.
Tip-off is tentatively scheduled at 6 p.m.at Arkansas’ Walton Arena to be televised by ESPN2.
Coach Mike White’s Gators, 10-5 overall/6-4 in the SEC, last played Feb. 3 in a surprising, 72-60 loss at South Carolina. Since then, because of covid issues within the Gators or their opponents, Florida postponed SEC games Feb. 6 against LSU in Baton Rouge, LA, Feb. 10 against Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. and last Saturday against Texas A&M at Florida’s O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla.
Arkansas, because of covid issues with opponents, had to cancel an early season nonconference game with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Tulsa and postpone a Feb. 6 SEC game at Walton Arena vs. Texas A&M.
Arkansas and Texas A&M are scheduled to play the Texas A&M home game in their 2-game SEC home and home at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in College Station, Texas. The Razorbacks and Gators are scheduled just tonight with no rematch unless paired in the SEC Tournament.
White’s Gators, losing star forward Keyontae Johnson for the season’s duration with a medical condition, start four averaging double-scoring figures.Guard Tre Mann leads at 14.5 followed by 6-11 forward Colin Castleton, 13.2, and guards Noah Locke, 11.5, and Tyree Appleby, 10.3.
Florida had been on a 4-game streak including SEC successes over Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, and a SEC vs. Big 12 Challenge victory at West Virginia before the abyss of the South Carolina loss and subsequent covid related postponements.
Meanwhile Coach Eric Musselman’s Razorbacks, 16-5 and tied for second with LSU at 8-4 in the SEC, sport a 6-game SEC winning streak including finding ways to win last week’s on the road nail-biters, 81-80 at Kentucky and 86-81 in overtime at Missouri.
On postgame radio in Columbia, Mo. Musselman was asked if as the streak grows the Hogs are getting confident they’ll find a way no matter what. “Yeah I think the players felt like that, the way we were talking at halftime,” Musselman said. “Because we played kind of a muddy game. We weren’t crisp in the first half.”
They played much better in the second half but couldn’t seal the deal losing a late 7-point lead for a Missouri layup with nine seconds left achieving a 73-73 overtime. “Often times you see a team that’s right there on the verge of winning when they’re on the road and the game goes into overtime you see an emotional letdown,” Musselman said. “You see a team kind of hang their head because it was right there in regulation for us to win. But we just kept talking about, ‘Hey, we’ll be able to score. Let’s just try to get defensive stops, try to keep off the foul line as much as we possibly could.”
ARKANSAS (16-5, 8-4)
F-Justin Smith 6-7 Sr. 11.6 pts. 6.5 rebs.
C-Connor Vanover 7-3 So. 7.9 5.6
G-Jalen Tate 6-6 Sr. 11.0 3.7
G-Moses Moody 6-6 Fr. 16.3 5.7
G-Davonte Davis 6-3 Fr. 6.6 3.5
FLORIDA (10-5, 6-4)
F-Omar Payne 6-10 So. 4.5 pts. 3.7 rebs.
F-Colin Castleton 6-11 Jr. 13.2 5.6
G-Tyree Appleby 6-1 Jr. 10.3 3.1
G-Noah Locke 6-3 Jr. 11.5 2.6
G-Tre Mann 6-5 So. 14.5 5.3