Wednesday January 23, 2013Gators Host Ole Miss in Important Home Game on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Florida has lost its last two games by a combined 11 points to nationally-ranked opponents and aims to halt its slide on Thursday when the team plays host to Ole Miss at the O’Connell Center beginning at 7 p.m. The game marks the end of a three-game homestand for the Gators.
The Lady Rebels dropped a 73-72 overtime heartbreaker at home to Missouri in their most recent outing and also are focused on ending their five-game losing streak.
VIDEO: Vicky McIntyre and Carlie Needles talk about Thursday’s game against Ole Miss:
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“Ole Miss is really impressive with how inspired they are playing in spite of the adversity they face,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “I think they are playing with a tremendous amount of pride. Our level of play shouldn’t change whether there is a (ranking) number in front of a team’s name. That can’t impact who we are, possession by possession and the energy we use to set the tone.”
Ole Miss issued a self-imposed postseason ban prior to the start of the year after then-head coach Adrian Wiggins was dismissed during the school’s investigation of recruiting violations. Brett Frank has been the Lady Rebel’s acting head coach.
“I think they are a team that plays fearlessly,” Butler said. “It probably is because they have nothing to lose. They’ve had this coaching situation and Coach Frank has done a great job of managing the team in a situation that would be real easy for it to go a different direction. He’s got his kids playing hard. They are a team that plays without the fear of losing, fear of collision, fear of missing a shot. Those are the most dangerous teams.”
The Gators need to take advantage of playing on their home court, where they sport a 9-2 overall record, because after Thursday’s game, Florida embarks on a five-game run with four on the road.
“We have to handle our business, especially at home,” Butler said. “We have to understand how important it is to defend our home court. I know we’re going to be excited to play.”
All five of the Gator’s Southeastern Conference games this year have been decided by eight points or less, including its most recent outing - a 52-44 loss to No. 19/18 South Carolina on Sunday. Overall, nine of Florida’s games this season have been decided by 10 points or less (5-4 record).
In UF’s Jan. 20 game against South Carolina, the Gators had just eight players suit up for the contest because leading scorer (13.4 ppg) and rebounder (8.5 rpg) Jennifer George was unable to play with the injury she suffered in the team’s previous game (Jan. 13 vs. Tennessee). George will be a game-time decision for Thursday.
Florida has won five of the last six games against Ole Miss, including both regular-season match-ups last year. Six of the last eight games in the series have been decided by eight points or less.
Over the last five games, Jaterra Bonds is averaging 18.2 points per game and has been UF leading scorer in all five, highlighted by her effort from the free throw line where she has converted 32-of-39 free throws. She has scored in double-figures in each of the last seven games.
Overall, Bonds is averaging 12.2 points (second on the team) with 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists (tied for team lead) per game. Bonds, who is the only Gator who has started every game, ranks third in SEC games for scoring (18.2 ppg), fourth for free throw percentage (82.1%) and eighth for field goal percentage (45.2%).
Things are starting to click for freshman January Miller, who in SEC games is averaging 7.8 points while hitting 3-of-7 (42.9%) from the three-point arc and 10-of-14 free throws (71.4%). During the 14 non-conference games, Miller tallied 4.6 points, while converting 5-of-20 (25%) three-point attempts and 12-of-19 free throws (63.2%).
Freshman Sydney Moss also is averaging a double-figure scoring effort, tallying 10.2 points per game. Moss leads Florida in assists (3.6 apg), while ranking second for scoring (10.2) and steals (1.6 pg), and third for rebounding (6.3 rpg) and has flirted with a triple-double four times. Among SEC freshmen entering the games of Jan. 24, Moss ranks second for assists, third for rebounding and fourth for scoring. She has been the Gator’s game leader for assists nine times, for rebounding five times and scoring three times.
Ole Miss counters with junior guard Valencia McFarland, who averages 11.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Junior Diara Moore tallies 11.0 points and 3.9 rebounds, while senior forward Courtney Marbra leads with 6.1 rebounds and sophomore Tia Faleru adds 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
“McFarland’s been one of the best guards in our league since she was a freshman,” Butler said. “She’s very scary. She’s little when you look at her and then she drops 30 points on you in about five different ways. She can shoot, get to the rim. She’s very fast, is a great defender and a good open-court player. Moore is a new addition to their team and has been their leading scorer for a ton of games. Tia Faleru comes off the bench and plays so incredibly hard.”
The Lady Rebels are the SEC’s second-best offensive rebounding team, behind only South Carolina, which snared 29 offensive rebounds against Florida on Sunday.
Florida (13-6, 2-3 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (7-11, 0-5 SEC)
Thu., Jan. 24, 2013 * 7 p.m. ET
Stephen C. O’Connell Center (11,373)
Game Coverage & More!
Radio: LIVE on The Star 99.5 FM (WBXY) in Gainesville with Adam Schick & Brittany Davis
Internet Audio: LIVE thru www.Gatorzone.com (FREE)
Internet Scoring: LIVE thru www.Gatorzone.com (FREE)
Internet Video: LIVE on www.ESPN3.com (no blackout)
Television: LIVE CSS (COX Sports/Charter Sports Southeast, Cox Ch. 259 in Gainesville) with Bernie Guenther & Mark Wise
O’Connell Center Press Row: 352-367-1801
Tickets: $5 for reserved seats; $4 adult general admission; $2 for youth age 17 and under; FREE for UF and Santa Fe students
Parking: FREE in the O’Connell Center lot
*all 5 of UF’s SEC games have been decided by 8 points or less
*Overall UF has played 9 games decided by 10 points or less (5-4)
*both teams are coming off tough losses and aiming to halt losing streaks
*Jaterra Bonds has been UF’s leading scorer in every SEC game
*Jennifer George has 1,100 career points & 796 career rebounds
*George is preseason 1st Team All-SEC selection by coaches & media
Additional Hoopla for Thursday’s Game
Rally Towel Giveaway: The first 500 fans will receive a free Florida Women’s Basketball rally towel
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:
Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women
Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK and @CoachButlerUF