This streak would end when the Gators suffered their first SEC loss to South Carolina on the 18th. In this defeat, Florida failed to make any of their 17 three-point attempts. It was the first time since 1992 that Florida failed to connect from downtown. The South Carolina loss slightly derailed the Gators as bottom-dweller Vanderbilt (10-11, 3-5 SEC) handed them their first home loss of the season in the very next contest.
However, Florida remained in the Top 25 rankings despite the back-to-back losses and smacked both LSU (9-11, 1-7 SEC) and Oklahoma (8-13) by over 30 points on the road to close out the month. In the LSU game, Florida flipped the script and set a school record as they sunk 19 three-pointers in a 106-71 rout of the Tigers. In Norman, they blew the doors off the Sooners with an 84-52 victory. These were definitely two great offensive performances for the Gators to end the month on.
Now, let's take a look at the stat leaders through the first month of the new calendar year:
Points: KeVaughn Allen (285) (Sophomore)
Assists: Kasey Hill (103) (Senior)
Rebounds: John Egbunu (49) (Redshirt Junior)
Shooting Percentage (100 attempts min.): Devin Robinson (51%) (Junior)
Three-Pointers: KeVaughn Allen (45)
Three-Point Percentage (50 attempts min.): Justin Leon (42%)
Free Throws: Canyon Barry (70) (Graduate Transfer)
Free Throw Percentage (50 attempts min.): Canyon Barry (88%)
Rebounds: Devin Robinson (79)
Blocks: John Egbunu/Kevarrius Hayes (30) (Sophomore)
Steals: Kasey Hill (41)
Personal Fouls: John Egbunu (51)
Minutes: Kasey Hill (610)
Turnovers: Kasey Hill (61)
Sitting just one game out of first place behind No. 8 Kentucky (17-4, 7-1 SEC) and No. 18 South Carolina (17-4, 7-1 SEC) in the SEC standings, No. 24 Florida will make or break their season in February. Just like this past month, the Gators have an even split of home and away games with four a piece.
At Exactech Arena, Florida will face Missouri (5-15, 0-8 SEC), Kentucky, Texas A&M (11-9, 3-5 SEC), and South Carolina. Missouri is in last place, Kentucky is an archrival (and also a game that none of my friends were able to get registered for somehow), Texas A&M has been up and down, and South Carolina will be a rematch. I see Florida going 3-1 in the home portion of the schedule.
For the road, the Gators will pack their bags and head to Georgia, Auburn (14-7, 3-5 SEC), Mississippi State (13-7, 4-4 SEC), and Kentucky. The Gators needed overtime to defeat Georgia, Auburn has been playing relatively well, Mississippi State is a middle-of-the-pack team in the conference, and Kentucky will 100% defeat the Gators at Rupp Arena for the third straight season. Florida ideally should go 3-1 on the road portion with perhaps another close game with the Dawgs in Athens.
Florida did a good job staying ranked as they fluctuated from 24th to 23rd to 19th to 25th before ultimately residing where they began at 24th. Florida should again remain in the Top 25 at the conclusion of February if they post a record of six and Kentucky for the month.
The Orange and Blue are currently seeded at No. 5 in Joe Lunardi's Bracketology. Hopefully a good month can either bring them up to a three-seed or at least allow them to remain steady at five.
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