Texas A&M-Florida Preview

Florida and Texas A&M have very different styles, so each is

hoping to set the tempo when these Top 25 teams meet Saturday at

the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.

The 13th-ranked Gators (7-2) are facing a ranked opponent for

the third time after losing by a combined 11 points on the road to

then-No. 3 Ohio State on Nov. 15 and then-No. 4 Syracuse on Dec.

2.

The Gators have won their last two since falling 72-68 to the

Orange, beating Rider 90-69 last Friday. Kenny Boynton scored 18 of

his season-high 26 points in the second half, connecting on 5 of 9

3-pointers.

Boynton, who grew up less than an hour from the BankAtlantic

Center, leads a balanced offense that is fourth in Division I with

86.8 points per game. The Gators have four players averaging at

least 11.6 points, with Boynton scoring 18.7 per game.

Florida’s guard play is a big part of its offense. The Gators

are tied for third in the nation with 28.1 3-point attempts per

game, but they’re also developing an inside game.

After scoring 25 points in a 78-72 overtime win over Arizona on

Dec. 7, sophomore center Patric Young had 12 points and 10 boards

against Rider.

“I feel bad for the other teams because they have to try and

decide who they’re going to stop – do you watch Pat inside or

concentrate on the guards from 3-point range?” freshman guard

Bradley Beal said.

However, those guards could have trouble matching up against

Texas A&M’s size. The 22nd-ranked Aggies (8-1) are giving up

51.4 points per game – fourth in the nation – and feature three

forwards in their starting lineup.

They’ve been particularly efficient at shutting down teams’

outside games, holding opponents to 23.6 percent shooting from

beyond the arc – third in Division I.

“They are really balanced and they can do a lot of different

things,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan, who signed a three-year

contract extension Friday that should keep him in Gainesville

through the 2015-16 season.

“When you’re going into a game like this, it’s not just doing

one or two things, you’ve got to do a lot of things to play

well.”

With his Aggies averaging 64.4 points, coach Billy Kennedy said

they cannot allow Florida to set the pace.

“They’re averaging 86 points per game, we’re averaging 64,”

Kennedy said. “When you look at the two losses Florida had, they

were in the low 70s. We have to be somewhere in between there. I

would love to tell you we could beat them 87 to 86, but I don’t

want to try that.”

Texas A&M has won six in a row since a 69-60 loss to

Mississippi State on Nov. 17. The Aggies have since welcomed back

junior forward Khris Middleton, who played in his second game in a

67-54 win over Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.

Middleton, who hadn’t played since Nov. 9 because of a torn

meniscus in his right knee, scored 24 points – 14 in the second

half – while adding six rebounds.

“It felt good to be back,” he said. “Just sitting there and

watching practice for three weeks and seeing where I could be

helping my teammates – I just wanted to be out there.”

The 6-foot-7 Middleton averaged a team-high 14.4 points last

season. His return helps Texas A&M inside, where it has a

plus-10.3 margin on the boards.

This is the third meeting between these programs after each won

on its own court. The Aggies came away with a 57-54 victory in

overtime in the last matchup in December 1992.