Florida Atlantic-Florida Preview
Concluding a season-opening five-game homestand with four victories might be considered a strong start for Florida. The Gators, however, might be more concerned with improving their play.
Facing Florida Atlantic presents an ideal chance to do so.
Florida will try to rebound from its worst offensive performance of the young season when it faces the Owls for the first time in six years Tuesday night.
The Gators (3-1), tied with Georgetown at 16th in the AP poll, lead the SEC in shooting at 51.9 percent, and their average of 79.5 points ranks third.
While Florida is among the top offensive teams in the conference, it barely escaped upset-minded Morehead State in a 61-55 win Sunday.
The Gators posted season lows in points and shooting percentage (38.9) while hitting 5 of 19 attempts from 3-point range. They held off the Eagles after winning by an average of 33.5 points in their first two victories.
"If you give them a glimmer of hope that they can get back into the game in the first four of five minutes of the (second) half, you are going to create a level of energy for that team that you are going to have to deal with the rest of the half," coach Billy Donovan told the Gators' official website. "We did that. I don't know what the reason is. I would correct it as soon as I could (if I did)."
Perhaps a better performance from Kenny Boynton will make things go smoother against the Owls (3-2) before the Gators open a three-game road trip Sunday with a matchup against Florida State, which received votes in the most recent poll.
The sophomore guard missed his first eight shots against Morehead State before sinking three of his final four, including a pair of 3-pointers, to finish with 10 points. He had gone 15 for 26 from the floor - 7 for 14 from beyond the arc - while averaging 18.5 points over the previous two games.
"I think early on I was trying to find my shot," said Boynton, second on the team with 14.3 points per game. "I missed the first eight shots and down the road I kind of tried to put it behind me."
Florida is 12-4 against the Sun Belt Conference, including two victories over the Owls in Gainesville by an average of 51.5 points. These teams haven't met since Nov. 23, 2004, when the Gators won 90-45.
Florida Atlantic, located about 300 miles from Gainesville in Boca Raton, is searching for its first win over a ranked opponent since beating then-No. 11 Oklahoma State on Dec. 1, 1998. It has dropped seven in a row to Top 25 teams by an average of 34.8 points.
The Owls are opening a stretch of playing eight of nine on the road after losing 82-72 to American on Saturday, shooting a season-low 31.1 percent from the field.
Sophomore guard Greg Gantt is averaging 19.0 points on 52.0 percent shooting over the last four games after being limited to four points in four minutes of a season-opening 70-63 win over UC Davis.