Gators return to action at No. 24 Arkansas


The Florida Gators, who are looking for their first win in February — they have one loss and three postponements — are set to visit the 24th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in a Southeastern Conference game at Fayetteville on Tuesday night.

Florida (10-5, 6-4) hasn’t played a game in 13 days, since a 72-66 loss to South Carolina. But the Gators are on a two-game road winning streak, last month beating Georgia and then-No.11 West Virginia. In addition, with Mike White as coach, Florida is 8-1 against Arkansas.

Arkansas (16-5, 8-4) has won three in a row and is 12-1 at home this season.

The Razorbacks are coming off perhaps their most impressive game of the season, an 86-81 overtime win at Missouri on Saturday. Missouri was ranked 10th in the nation at the time.

That Razorbacks victory was their first over a Top-10 team since 2016 and marks their sixth consecutive SEC win for the first time since February of 2017.

Against Missouri, the Razorbacks were led by Justin Smith’s 19 points. Moses Moody, who went 6-for-6 on free throws, added 16 points, and Jalen Tate contributed 14 points and a team-high four assists.

“The great thing about this team is that we have multiple guys who can take over in late-game situations,” Moody said.

Moody, who has made 12 consecutive free throws over the past three games, ranks sixth in the SEC in scoring (16.3) and fourth in free-throw percentage (82.2).

Smith, who went over 1,000 career points on Saturday, leads Arkansas in rebounds (6.5) and ranks third in scoring (11.6). Connor Vanover, a 7-3, 250-pound redshirt sophomore, is another Razorbacks player to watch. A transfer from California, he is averaging 7.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. He is also shooting 32.8 percent from 3-point range and has made all 19 of his free-throw attempts this season.

Against Missouri, Vanover went 2-for-4 on 3-pointers. He also surprised Missouri by going 3-for-3 from the post.

“Connor going down on the block is something we haven’t done before,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “We had to diagram it during a timeout, and then we went to the play about four straight times.”

Meanwhile, the Gators continue to try to retool after the loss of SEC Preseason Player of the Year Keyontae Johnson back in mid-December.

“That’s taken time,” White said, as the Gators are 7-4 since then and were knocked out of the Top 25 by the loss to South Carolina.

Tre Mann leads the Gators in scoring (14.5) and assists (3.8), ranking second in rebounds (5.3). He had a career-high 24 points against Georgia earlier this season.

Colin Castleton, who ranks second on the Gators in scoring (13.2) and leads in rebounds (5.6), has been named SEC Player of the Week twice this season. He also leads the SEC in field-goal percentage (60.8) and ranks second in blocked shots (2.6).

As a team, the Gators lead the nation in blocked shots (6.3) and top the SEC in field-goal percentage (47.4) and 3-point percentage (37.5).

–Field Level Media

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