After struggling on the road earlier this season, Florida has
picked up the pace in opposing arenas.
While the 14th-ranked Gators have controlled this series of
late, they’re likely to have their hands full against an Arkansas
team that’s been almost unbeatable at home.
Hoping to have its top two reserves available, Florida tries for
an eighth win in nine meetings with the Razorbacks as the teams
square off in Fayetteville on Saturday night.
The Gators (20-6, 8-3 SEC) dropped their first four true road
games but have taken three of four away from home, with their only
loss coming 78-58 to No. 1 Kentucky on Feb. 7.
While Arkansas (17-9, 5-6) remains winless on the road, it’s
been dominant on its own court. The Razorbacks have won 15 straight
by an average of 14.6 points at Bud Walton Arena, where they’re
Arkansas, though, doesn’t carry much momentum into Saturday’s
matchup after suffering a 77-58 loss at Tennessee on Wednesday.
“Every game’s a big game and I wanna see how we respond coming
off of a tough loss to Tennessee,” coach Mike Anderson said.
“(Florida’s) got depth, they got a good basketball team … let’s
see if we can be better, see if we can get that taste out of our
The Gators could be close to full strength with forward Will
Yeguete (concussion) and guard Mike Rosario (hip pointer) possibly
returning to action. Both were held out of Tuesday’s 61-52 win at
“(Yeguete’s) not cleared to play yet, so a lot’s going to depend
on what happens here in practice,” coach Billy Donovan said Friday.
“How he feels tonight, (Saturday) morning’s going to have a large
impact on whether or not we can play him.”
Guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker were held to a combined
14 points on 3-of-14 shooting Tuesday, including a 1-of-10 effort
from 3-point range.
Leading the nation with 264 made 3-pointers, the Gators could be
in for another long night from beyond the arc versus Arkansas,
which is holding opponents to 27.5 percent from long distance
during its home winning streak.
The Razorbacks have won all three home meetings versus Top 25
foes this season, and a win Saturday would certainly bolster their
NCAA tournament resume.
“Our guys have really gave our fans something to cheer about,
especially when they play at home,” Anderson said.
“It should be a great atmosphere … hopefully we can raise our
play up to the level we’ve played throughout the year.”
While Arkansas has to like its chances of keeping things going
in front of its home crowd, it hasn’t experienced much success
versus the Gators of late.
The Razorbacks have dropped seven of eight in the series, the
last four by an average of 16.8 points. Arkansas fell 75-43 in
Gainesville on Jan. 22, 2011, in the last matchup.
Former Razorbacks coach John Pelphrey, in his second stint as an
assistant for Florida, makes his first trip back to campus since he
was fired last March after four years with the program.
“I circled this game when we first got the calendar,” Razorbacks
sophomore Mardracus Wade said. “So, I know it’s going to be a lot
of noise. He’s going to want to come in here and get a win, but at
the same time, we’re going to try to go at him, too. This is our
house and we want to defend it.”