Southeastern Louisiana (1-7) at (8) Florida (7-1)
Wednesday, December 19, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stephen C. O'Connell Center (11,548) -- Gainesville, Florida. Television: Sun Sports, FSN-FL. Home Record: SELA 1-1, Florida 5-0. Away Record: SELA 0-6, Florida 1-1. Neutral Record: SELA 0-0, Florida 1-0. Conference Record: SELA 0-0, Florida 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: Two teams at opposite ends of the success spectrum square off on Wednesday night, as the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana come calling on the eighth-ranked Florida Gators.
SE Louisiana has gotten off to a miserable start, winning just once in eight tries. The team is currently mired in a four-game losing streak, with its most recent setback occurring on Sunday at North Texas in a 45-40 final. The Lions' lone win was over Louisiana College (91-49) on Nov. 20. Southeastern is 0-6 in true road games this season, and the team will play just one more non-league tilt after tonight before opening Southland Conference action at home against Oral Roberts on Jan. 3, 2013. Southeastern is just 2-63 all-time against teams from the SEC.
Florida opened the 2012-13 campaign with seven straight wins, but recently suffered its first setback at Arizona (65-64) this past Saturday. The Gators, who will face another stiff test from Kansas State this weekend, are a perfect 5-0 at home this year, although this is their only game in front of the Gainesville faithful during the month of December. UF won't return home until is SEC opener versus Georgia on Jan. 9, 2013.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between the Lions and Gators on the hardwood.
The primary reason for Southeastern Louisiana's troubles this season has been its inability to score points, what with the team averaging just 61.1 ppg in hitting a mere 39.0 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 27.4 percent effort from 3-point range. At present, there is only one double-digit scorer on the roster, as Brandon Fortenberry nets 11.5 ppg despite shooting roughly 35 percent from the floor. Jeffery Ricard (9.9 ppg) is close to joining the ranks, but he too is under 40 percent field goal efficiency. Defensively, the Lions are giving up more than 70 ppg, with opponents knocking down better than 45 percent of their total shots. Fortenberry logged a double- double consisting of 19 points and 11 rebounds for Southeastern in the recent loss to North Texas, he being the only player on the team to score in double figures. Overall, the Lions shot just 25 percent from the floor, missing 11 of their 14 3-point attempts along the way. The Mean Green didn't fare much better (.295 FG percentage), but 19 turnovers by Southeastern proved costly as well.
Florida uses a suffocating defensive effort to keep the opposition at bay, yielding a mere 50.4 ppg which ranks the team third in the nation heading into the week. Foes are shooting just 36.1 percent from the field, while committing more than 16 turnovers per outing. At the offensive end, the Gators are hitting 47.2 percent of their total shots, which includes a 37.3 percent effort from beyond the arc, and they rely on four double-digit scorers to get the job done. Kenny Boynton (13.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) paces the unit, while Erik Murphy (12.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Mike Rosario (12.0 ppg) and Patric Young (10.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.3 bpg) have proven themselves valuable as well. Rosario tallied 16 points, Murphy tacked on 15 and Scottie Wilbekin came off the bench to chip in 11, but those efforts weren't enough to keep the Gators perfect on the year as they dropped a one-point decision at Arizona last weekend. Florida drained 10 3-pointers in the game, but the Wildcats claimed an 18-6 edge in points from the foul line.
The Lions are sure to put their best foot forward, but they simply the lack the overall talent and depth needed to play with the big boys. Expect the Gators to impose their will early, and cruise to another satisfying home win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 84, Southeastern Louisiana 50
12/19 11:07:35 ET