As the 14th ranked Florida Gators (14-4, 2-1 in the SEC) host LSU tonight at the O'Connell Center, the Gators seemed primed for a successful run through the conference. The Gators got their first road victory of the season in South Carolina, ending doubts about whether Florida can play away from the O-dome.
Despite playing one of their harder out of conference schedules in recent years (including games against #1 Syracuse and #6 Ohio State), the Gators have been impressive, among the NCAA's leaders in points per game (82.6) and 3-point percentage (41.1). Florida has made 10 or more 3 pointers in 13 of their 18 games this season.
Florida's backcourt duo of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton have been the driving force behind the Gators' offense, combining for 31.6 points per game. The Gators do have balance, though, with Patrick Young averaging 11.4 points per game and hauling in just under seven rebounds (6.9) per game.
The Gators have a 15 game home winning streak at the O'Connell Center where four of their next five games will be played. The Gators also have just three of their final 13 games against ranked teams (two are against #2 Kentucky). Florida is 1-2 against ranked opponents this season.
Many experts feel Florida's already built a solid resume with 3 quality victories over Arizona, Florida State and Yale along with close losses to powerhouses Syracuse and Ohio State. However, head scratching losses on the road against Rutgers and Tennessee does cast a shadow of doubt on whether this team can be consistent.
Florida could need at least one more quality win against a ranked opponent along with 8 more regular season wins and no more Tennessee-type losses to be assured of a spot in the Big Dance before the conference tournament.
The Gators seem to have the balance to make that a possibility, but do they have the depth?
We'll find out starting tonight.