Wednesday January 30, 2013Gators Aim to Halt Skid with Inaugural Game vs. Missouri, Thursday at 8 pm ET
The Gators are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and aim to halt the season-long slide when the team travels to Columbia, Mo., for the first time in program history to play Southeastern Conference newcomer Missouri at the Mizzou Arena on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.
Thursday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between Florida and Missouri, which sport identical overall and league records at 13-8 and 2-5, respectively. It also will be the first time in program history that the Gators will play a game in the Show Me State. Missouri is one of 12 different States the Gators have never played a game in entering this season. Gainesville is 857 miles from Columbia.
Entering the season, only three current players had suited up with the Gators for an away game in the last two years, with senior Jennifer George joining juniors Lily Svete and Jaterra Bonds with recent experience playing in hostile arenas. Redshirt-sophomore Kayla Lewis had not played a road game since Jan. 23, 2011 at LSU, as she missed the final 19 games of her freshman year while the three games she played last season prior to redshirting were at home.
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Gator junior Vicky McIntyre played her first two seasons at Oklahoma State before transferring to Florida in May of 2012. McIntyre’s two-year stint at the Big XII school had her square off against the Tigers four times, totaling 24 points and 15 rebounds. Her top statistical game against Missouri was a 14-point, seven-rebound effort against the Tigers in Columbia as a freshman.
The one stat that stands out when initially looking at Missouri is the team’s prowess from beyond the three-point arc. The Tigers rank third in the country with an average 9.1 made three-pointers per game and already have connected on 191 treys through 21 games.
In the team’s SEC debut, Missouri set the league record of 18 three-pointers.
“Defending the three has been a weakness for us this season and Missouri is one of the best in the league at shooting them,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “They can light you up and we have to be aware of that. At the same time, we’ve also got to respect the other aspects of their game. They aren’t just a great three-point shooting team. They’ve got great scorers. They do a fantastic job of reading and picking their spots to attack. We have to play a good overall defensive game that’s really rooted in our defensive principles.”
Nine different Tigers have connected on at least one from long range, with Morgan Eye draining 80-of-185 (45.5%), Maddie Stock hitting 30-of-90 and Bri Kulas 28-of-85. Eye leads in the country with 3.81 three-pointers per game.
In SEC games this year, Florida’s opponents are averaging 6.4 treys per game, sinking them at an alarming 38.1 percent efficiency mark.
“Everyone is a shooter on their team,” Butler said. “We’ll have to pressure and guard everyone on all spots on the court.”
Six of the Gator’s seven SEC games this year have been decided by eight points or less. Overall, 10 of Florida’s game this season have been decided by 10 points or less (5-5 record).
During UF’s current four-game losing streak, the Gators have been out-rebounded three times, at a minus-4.7 margin. Overall this year, the team has lost the rebounding battle six times. Another statistical change has been the team’s effort at the free throw line, where the Gators have converted a woeful 53.6 percent (37-69) during the last four games.
“We’ve found creative ways to lose ballgames,” said Butler of the last four games. “There are several things that have contributed to each loss. We have to play a complete game. That’s been our hurdle. We have to play up to potential in every area and play every possession with meaning and purpose.”
Florida senior Jennifer George was named as preseason first-team All-SEC selections by the league’s coaches and media.
Florida has used nine different starting lineups this season - including a new one in each of its last six games, most recently the quintet of Jaterra Bonds, Kayla Lewis, Carlie Needles, January Miller and Jennifer George at Georgia (Jan. 27). Nine different Gators have started at least one game this season.
The lineup shuffling began as a result of the injury to All-American Jennifer George, who left the LSU game on Jan. 6 with a shoulder issue.
George, a Preseason Naismith Player of the Year candidate, is the SEC’s active career leader in double-doubles with 26, most recently tallied a 15-point, 11-rebound effort against LSU (Jan. 6). George also is the SEC’s active career leader in rebounds (804) and is second for blocks (162) and fifth for steals (143). She leads the Gators in scoring (12.7), rebounding (8.1), steals (2.0) and field goal percentage (53.2%) and ranks second for blocked shots (27).
George collected her 800th career rebound during the Jan. 24 game against Ole Miss, as she became the 11th Gator in program history with 1,000 points and 800 rebounds.
Over the last four games, Kayla Lewis is averaging 10.0 points per game and 9.0 rebounds. She scored a career-high 22 points in the loss to Ole Miss (Jan. 24) and collected a team-best 10 rebounds at Georgia (Jan. 27) marking the fourth time this year and in her career she logged a double-figure rebounding total.
Overall, Jaterra Bonds is averaging 12.0 points (second on the team) with 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists (second on the team) per game. Bonds, who is the only Gator who has started every game, ranks seventh in SEC games for scoring (16.1ppg), tied for eighth for free throw percentage (78.3%) and 15th for field goal percentage (40.2%).
Freshman Sydney Moss also is averaging a double-figure scoring effort, tallying 10.2 points per game. Moss leads Florida in assists (3.4 apg), while ranking third for scoring (10.2), second for steals (1.7 pg) and tied for second for rebounding (6.2 rpg). She has flirted with a triple-double four times.
Among SEC freshmen entering the games of Jan. 31, Moss ranks second for assists, third for rebounding and third for scoring. She has been the Gator’s game leader for assists 10 times, for rebounding six times and scoring four times.
Florida (13-8, 2-5 SEC) at Missouri (13-8, 2-5 SEC)
Thurs., Jan. 31, 2013 * 8 p.m. ET
Mizzou Arena (15,061)
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*the Gators will be playing a game in the state of Missouri for the first time in program history
*both teams sport identical overall and SEC records
*Missouri leads the SEC in 3-pointers per game, while UF ranks 13th in the SEC for defending the three
*6 of UF’s 7 SEC games have been decided by 8 points or less
*Overall UF has played 10 games decided by 10 points or less (5-5)
*Jaterra Bonds has been UF’s leading scorer in 5 of 7 SEC games
*George is preseason 1st Team All-SEC selection by coaches & media
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