Posted: 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
Florida should ease back into the swing of things with an easy win over Savannah State on Sunday.
Florida and Savannah State will tip off at 3:00 p.m. in the Gators' first game since Christmas. By about 3:30 p.m., the game might be out of hand.
That's because Savannah State is likely to be the worst team Florida plays this season.
The Tigers are currently ranked 316th in KenPom's adjusted efficiency rankings, and their 2-10 record includes wins against NCCAA Tennessee Temple College and just-started-playing-basketball Florida National University, neither of which I had ever heard of before writing this post. Savannah State's also lost twice to North Florida, which Florida beat comfortably with about five healthy players, and to Lamar, which is even lower in KenPom's rankings than the Tigers are.
And Florida, as you may remember, is pretty good. Since falling to UConn thanks to a Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater, the Gators have beaten Kansas, Memphis, and Fresno State, and established themselves as a team on the rise nationally. The return of Scottie Wilbekin and emergence of Casey Prather as a dominant first option have given Florida's rosters big boosts on offense and defense, respectively. And relentless work on the offensive boards — Florida has snagged better than 30 percent of its misses in its last nine games — has made up for some shooting droughts.
Savannah State's not nearly as good as Florida's competition has been of late, with only Jacksonville — which Florida dispatched, 86-60, in Jacksonville — rivaling it in efficiency on Florida's schedule, and it matches up poorly with the Gators, too. Deven Williams is the majority of Savannah State's offense, but the six-foot point guard is an inefficient volume shooter (eighth nationally in shot percentage, but sitting with an effective field goal percentage of just 49.6 percent), and Wilbekin dogging him all day might make for a bad day.
Expect the Gators to win big. And with this game serving as the last Florida athletic contest of 2013, it will be nice to have that win — and Patric Young cresting 1,000 career points, which he needs just eight points to do — as a palate-cleansing end to a roller-coaster year.