Angel Rodriguez made such a lasting impression on the Florida-Miami rivalry that new Gators coach Mike White has made him a primary focus in the game plan.
Rodriguez hopes to keep giving Florida nightmares as the 17th-ranked Hurricanes seek their second straight win in the series Tuesday night at their sold-out BankUnited Center.
''I think the crowd should starting getting here around 6 o'clock - (the night before),'' Miami coach Jim Larranaga joked.
Rodriguez delivered an unforgettable performance in last year's meeting when he poured in 22 of his 24 points in the final nine minutes while also knocking down five 3-pointers in the last seven in a 69-67 win at No. 8 Florida.
The guard hit a difficult, go-ahead 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining as Miami rallied from a 15-point deficit to snap the Gators' 33-game home winning streak.
Rodriguez has been one of the big reasons the Hurricanes (7-1) rank in the nation's top 15 in scoring (87.6), field-goal percentage (51.1) and 3-point percentage (42.5). He averaged 14.3 points and made 11 of 27 (40.7) from beyond the arc over a six-game span before finishing with eight in Saturday's 88-60 home win over Charlotte.
Rodriguez is expected to play in the rematch with Florida despite leaving Saturday's game briefly with a wrist injury. White, who was with Louisiana Tech last season before replacing Billy Donovan, said stopping Rodriguez won't be easy after watching last year's game film.
"It starts with knowing where he is at all times," he said. "And that's collectively, not just the guy who is assigned to guard him. We all need to know where Angel is for 40 minutes because he's capable of stepping up and hitting 3s in transition like he did last year."
The Gators (6-1) rank in the nation's top 15 in defensive scoring (58.7). They're also in the top 25 in both defensive field-goal percentage (36.8) and rebounding margin (plus-9.9).
Florida, known for its relentless press, received votes in the latest poll after limiting Richmond to 33.9 percent shooting last Tuesday in its third straight home victory, 76-56.
Sheldon McClellan, who leads Miami with 15.9 points per game, could get more time after he scored eight in 18 minutes while coming off the bench Saturday due to a lower extremity injury.
"It's a huge test for us defensively," White said. "It's, of course, a road game against an ACC opponent that I think will be very competitive in their league. So early on, it's an opportunity for us but also a test to see where we're at and what we need to work on."
Dorian Finney-Smith, who did not play in last season's meeting, leads the Gators with 14.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. One point away from 1,000 for his career, he'll try to get back on track after scoring nine on 3-of-12 shooting against the Spiders.
John Egbunu finished with 17 points and 14 boards, Devin Robinson had 12 and 13 and Finney-Smith added 13 rebounds as Florida owned a 57-36 advantage on the glass.
"They've got, not a good player, but a great player at every position and a very deep and talented bench," Larranaga said. "Their size and length and defensive abilities create a major challenge for any team."
The Gators won 77-67 on Dec. 22, 2005, in the only other meeting at the then-University of Miami Convocation Center.