Better Know An Opponent: Florida

Take all those feelings you have about this basketball team after its 21-point victory over Arkansas and pack them up tight.  Somewhere no one can find them.  Especially not Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators.

The Gamecocks head to Gainesville on Wednesday evening to take on Florida in what not only will be the toughest game on our schedule, but perhaps the toughest game any team will play in college basketball this season (except, of course, for another team who plays Florida against a more jacked up O’Connell Center).  The Gators are simply that good.

The odds against Carolina are incredibly long.  But it wouldn’t be the first time a Gamecock team overcame preposterous odds to defeat Florida in Gainesville (you read that right – we closed the game on an 18-0 run), even though the Gamecocks and Gators of that year were quite different from this season’s iterations.  But, it’s sports – things can happen.  That’s why we watch.

Team

Four Factors USC O UF D   UF O USC D   NCAA
eFG 49.7
(121)
41.2
(4)
57.0
(3)
47.5
(147)
48.4
TO% 24.1
(323)
23.8
(31)
18.4
(66)
20.7
(158)
20.5
Oreb% 42.4
(4)
26.2
(11)
37.6
(32)
31.9
(172)
32
FTR 38.7
(99)
30.8
(72)
31.2
(275)
42.9
(303)
35.6
Adj. Tempo 67.3
(132)
63.3
(295)
66.5
Shooting USC O UF D   UF O USC D   NCAA
FT% 69.3
(160)
71.1
(110)
68.8
2P% 49.0
(112)
39.0
(3)
56.8
(2)
48.5
(211)
47.3
3P% 34.2
(132)
38.2
(26)
33.7
3PA% 31.2
(229)
33.3
(185)
40.6
(31)
31.2
(112)
32.9

If you have some deep, enduring hatred of the Florida Gators, I encourage you to click away from this preview and go look at LOLCats, because the internet is full of things that can make you happy, and this will not be one of those things.

Florida is dominant.  They have but one weakness, an inability to get to the foul line, and that cost them in both their losses (they were 6-8 from the line in their loss at Arizona, and 10-15 in Kansas City in losing to Kansas State).

Otherwise, it’s all strength.  On offense, the Gators rain shots in from outside, and take plenty of them.  On the inside, they’re difficult enough to stop against teams that are capable of playing good interior defense, something that hasn’t aptly described the Gamecocks this season (whose 48.5% defensive 2PA percentage for the season is the same in both non-conference play, as well as against conference foes).

Oh, and Florida did this against a schedule that has included Wisconsin, Marquette, Arizona, Kansas State, and Missouri, not to mention underrated defensive teams like Savannah State (I’m not kidding) and Middle Tennessee.  Meanwhile, the Gamecocks numbers have been posted against… let’s say inferior competition.

Two of those teams beat the Gators – Arizona and Kansas State (both away from Gainesville).  Both of those teams were able to hold Florida to under 50 percent from 2PA.  That’s something that will probably be critical for any team to have a hope for beating the Gators, but something that South Carolina simply hasn’t been able to put together thus far this season against good opposition.

However, even if you find a way to stop Florida from close-range, you’d better be ready for the three-point barrage they’ll bring.  The Gators hoist a ton of 3PAs and turn a bunch of them into 3PMs.  In some ways, I think this might be the Gamecocks’ best shot – let Florida take the shots from the outside and hope for some misses.  If you can’t stop them inside, let’s find out if they can’t beat themselves.

On the other side of the ball, the Gamecocks will have a devilish time scoring inside against Florida’s elite interior defense.  Of course, given our turnover issues, just getting the shots off will also be important.  Even when we do, Florida doesn’t give up a lot of offensive rebounds, so it may be difficult for Carolina to press this strength into results on the evening.

Frankly, I’m not sure there’s a real key or match-up to watch in this game.  The Gators outmatch the Gamecocks in almost every facet.  It wouldn’t be surprising if the greatest interest in the second half is seeing how Carolina can play relative to expectations, which given the way Florida has run through the SEC thus far, should not be terribly high.

Individual

GAMECOCKS
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Lakeem Jackson
77.7
17.3
62.2
10.3
15.9
15.6
23.8
16-48
81-132
2-3
Eric Smith
68.6
17.1
39.5
1.6
5.5
23.3
29.8
26-39
30-74
10-40
Mindaugas Kacinas
56.9
15.9
57.9
10.8
12.9
7.5
29.5
26-38
43-67
3-15
Brenton Williams
55.7
21.6
56.3
1.4
8.1
11.9
17.7
59-71
34-71
31-72
Brian Richardson
48.5
20.6
52.2
5.7
11.2
14.8
16.8
21-28
27-64
29-71
RJ Slawson
40.5
18.4
47.9
14.9
13.4
8.7
21.5
30-43
31-63
2-8
Bruce Ellington
39.7
22.4
43.0
3.1
9.1
13.9
27.3
17-31
31-70
8-30
Michael Carrera
35.9
26.8
47.3
15.9
24.7
8.6
23.7
46-58
41-89
2-4
Damien Leonard
28.1
19.9
40.7
7.1
13.4
7.1
27.3
7-11
9-29
13-41
Laimonas Chatkevicius
17.2
24.2
54.2
13.5
17.5
14.3
33.0
12-17
18-32
1-4
GATORS
%Min
%Poss
eFG%
OR%
DR%
ARate
TORate
FTM-FTA
2PM-2PA
3PM-3PA
Kenny Boynton
78.8
21.1
53.8
2.3
11.3
16.7
12.3
46-56
36-66
42-118
Scottie Wilbekin
69.6
18.4
57.3
2.9
7.8
29.1
21.5
13-20
35-64
21-52
Mike Rosario
69.3
22.0
50.6
3.7
6.4
15.2
17.5
36-40
43-88
26-74
Patric Young
67.1
22.7
62.9
13.7
15.9
7.1
19.9
35-67
83-132
0-0
Erik Murphy
59.2
21.2
67.6
7.8
15.3
12.4
14.2
18-22
46-72
36-76
Will Yeguete
58.5
18.2
58.8
12.3
22.8
8.8
25.9
30-50
42-70
1-4
Michael Frazier
44.4
15.0
57.5
2.5
18.5
10.8
21.4
16-17
7-16
21-51
Casey Prather**
21.5
20.4
68.2
13.7
13.0
13.5
18.2
8-9
27-39
2-5
Braxton Ogbueze
10.0
18.8
34.4
1.8
14.8
9.3
28.3
2-7
4-12
1-4

**Expected to miss game.

The loss of Prather just isn’t going to affect Florida in any meaningful way.  If the game stays close, it may shorten their bench from eight players to seven, but those seven guys don’t generally get in a lot of foul trouble, so I don’t think that’s something that overly concerns the Gators.

The stars are in the front-court – Patric Young and Erik Murphy stand 6’9″ and 6’10” respectively and are a nightmare match-up for this Carolina team.  Given our struggles of stopping teams from making baskets from inside the arc, seeing two guys who shoot over 62% from inside is not welcome news.  While only Young really takes advantage of one of USC’s other main weaknesses – getting to the foul line – these two guys seem likely to feast on Carolina’s weak interior defense, if our games against Missouri and S.C. State are any indication.

And on the other side of the court?  Just as deadly.  Young blocks 8.3% of the 2PAs that occur while he’s on the floor, with Murphy chipping in a block rate of 3.7%.

In the back-court, the star is Kenny Boynton, a 6’2″ guard who shoots the lights out from everywhere on the court.  He avoids turnovers, still creates plenty of buckets for his teammates with his assist rate, and does a great job avoiding turnovers.  He’ll join with Mike Rosario, another shooter who is a touch worse inside and at avoiding turnovers, but still brings a ton of offense.

Lastly, the point guard Scottie Wilbekin helps get all of these guys their shots, assisting on over a quarter of the baskets made by his teammates when he’s on the floor.  While he doesn’t shoot much, and turns the ball over a bit more than you’d want, he atones with a 3.6% steal rate of his own, making him a difficult match-up for our guards on both sides of the floor.

Florida will likely only rotate one guard and one forward most of the evening, and those guys will be just as much trouble as their counterparts.  Forward Yeguette shoots 60 percent on the inside and hammers the glass on both ends, while Michael Frazier doesn’t shoot much, but pours in 3-pointers when he does – he’s shooting over 40 percent from outside.  He’s also a surprisingly good defensive rebounder, claiming over 18 percent of the defensive boards available to him.

The Gamecocks will need a few guys to play out of their minds tomorrow night, on a number of levels.  Bruce will need to rein in his turnover rate (over 27 percent) so the Gamecocks get shots.  Williams and Richardson are our main outside weapons, and it’ll be important if either or both of them can heat up from outside to help Carolina score a lot of points on the shots they get off.  And since forcing turnovers is probably our best shot at keeping Florida off the board (aside from our aforementioned plan of letting them shoot from the outside and just hoping for the best), our guards may need to find a way to create steals.

On the interior, we actually have quite a few guys posting quite good block rates – Carrera, Chatkevicius, Lakeem and Slawson all have top 500 numbers (though the first two don’t have the 40% minutes played to qualify under Ken Pomeroy’s system).  However, of those guys, only Jackson averages fewer than five fouls committed per 40 minutes.  These guys will need to find a way to prevent 2PMs without fouling, as any rate over 50 percent will probably be death for Carolina.

Prediction

KenPom: 83-51 L (1%)

TeamRankings: 80-56 L (1%)

Vegas: Florida by 23.5

Folks, there’s no reason to kid ourselves – there are very few teams in the NCAA this season who could beat Florida at all, let alone at home, and we’re probably not one of them.

Let’s put this in perspective.  According to KenPomeroy’s win graphs, not a single team – at ANY point in the game – has had better than even odds to emerge from Gainesville victorious.  The only team to have over a 25 percent win percentage at any point in the game is Wisconsin, and that peaked the moment the ball was tipped, as the Gators jumped out to a 9-0 lead.

In the second half, the best odds of victory for a Gator opponent in Gainesville belonged to Wisconsin, when they had a 9 percent chance of victory at halftime of a game where they trailed 43-31.  And much like how they started the first half, the Gators opened the second half with a 6-0 run, and Wisconsin never had a better than 9 percent chance of victory the rest of the second half.

These are the standards against which success should be measured this evening, because that’s how good Florida has been at home this year.

The Gators may be looking forward to their match-up against Ole Miss on Saturday, so perhaps Carolina can catch them off-guard in the early going.  But it’s hard to see many ways for the Gamecocks to walk out of Gainesville with a win. I’ve spent a lot of this season trying not to chase results too hard, and not just to keep myself sane – when you’re building a program and you’re in a season where you know the stakes are relatively low, it’s reasonable to watch for progress as well as results.

And on Wednesday, progress will probably be all we can take away.  This is the barometer that measures where we are versus where we want to be.  Let’s find out just how far we have to go.

Advertisements

About marvinnedick

Blogging from the mid-Atlantic on Gamecock sports, as well as general musings on sports theory otherwise.
This entry was posted in 2012-13 Basketball, Better Know An Opponent, Florida and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Better Know An Opponent: Florida

  1. Pingback: Florida wallops Gamecocks, 75-36 |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s