Mike White’s Florida Gators had a disappointing non-conference season. The Gators entered the season as the 8th-ranked team in the country and got up to as high as 5th, before losing four out of five games in a 12-day stretch to fall out of the rankings. The losses came against Duke (87-84), Florida State (83-66), Loyola-Chicago (65-59), and Clemson (71-69).
However, since then, the Gators have run off five straight victories and opened up SEC play 3-0. Part of the team’s struggles can certainly be attributed to not having senior center John Egbunu in the lineup while he’s still recovering from ACL surgery. But, Florida seems to be rounding into form and Egbunu could return at the end of this month. How dangerous will the Gators be? Can they challenge for a much more wide open SEC? To find out the answers to these questions and more, we caught up with CBS Sports Network’s Jon Rothstein.
CBS Local Sports: After a rough stretch in mid-December Florida has seemingly bounced back. What’s been the key to the Gators recent success?
Jon Rothstein: One of the things that we kind of anticipated early in the season was that, Florida wasn’t going to be able to shoot as well as it did out of the gate. This was an unbelievable offensive team at the PK80 and the beginning of the season. Then, they made some adjustments after they got humbled a little bit. You saw a couple of losses at home that maybe people thought they shouldn’t have lost. And, they also lost a neutral site game to a tough Clemson team.
But, when you look right now at the chemical make-up of things, this Florida team is a perimeter-dominated team, and they still haven’t gotten great production out of KeVaughn Allen. This guy has had nine points in his last two games and still, has really yet to move the needle. I think that’s a good sign for Florida. They’ve been so good, and so effective in the SEC and they’ve gotten nothing out of the guy who, a lot of people, myself included, thought was an all-conference caliber player.
CBS Local Sports: Dates with both of the Mississippi schools are on the docket for this week. What potential pitfalls do these teams present for the Gators?
Jon Rothstein: In conference play right now, you’re looking at a situation where every game is a separate entity. Look at what happened last week in the Big Ten. Michigan State came into the game against Ohio…