Florida will take on South Carolina on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET at the Exactech Arena in Gainesville. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and available to stream on the ESPN app and ESPN+.
The Gators’ home fight against the Gamecocks should be a respite from an otherwise tough series of games. The meetup is the only thing that compares back-to-back Quad-I games against Texas A&M and Mississippi State with a group of four-back-to-back Quad-I or near-Quad-I games against No. 5 Kansas State on the road, No. 4 , separating Tennessee at home, Kentucky en route, and No. 2 Alabama on the way.
But Florida’s matchup against South Carolina is no longer as easy a task as the Gators’ starting power forward as a sophomore Alex Fudge, is out due to a concussion suffered against the state of Mississippi. Fudge was arguably best suited to guard the elite South Carolina rookie’s forward GG Jacksonwhich has the potential to become a significantly tougher task on Wednesday night.
The Gamecocks, who are 8-11 overall, are head coached in their inaugural season Lamont Pariswho spent the last five years in the same role at Chattanooga, where he led the Mocs to an NCAA tournament appearance last season.
Here are more details on the Gamecocks 2022-23 roster:
– South Carolina is ranked 244th among KenPom’s Division I teams, making it the lowest-ranked SEC program, according to the analytics-based model. The Gamecocks are 1-5 in the SEC game with their only win coming over a struggling squad from Kentucky. South Carolina is 2-7 against teams ranked in the top-100 on KenPom this season.
– The Gamecocks were abysmal on the offensive end, which is reflected in their No. 241 national ranking in adjusted efficiency at that end of the parquet. They also rank 331st in effective field goal percentage and are among the worst teams in the nation in pure field goal percentage from both the 2-point and 3-point ranks. Aside from offensive rebound percentage (which can be deceiving as the Gamecocks struggle to avoid blocked shots and miss high volume on their own), South Carolina ranks outside the top-250 in every major offensive stat category this season. South Carolina has only surpassed 70 points in a game five times this season.
— Including the team’s top scorer, Jackson (15.9 points per game), the Gamecocks have four players who have averaged double figures in 19 games. Jackson is accompanied by the Junior Guard Meechie Johnson (12.4), senior guard Chico Carter (10.9) and senior wing Hayden Brown (10.8). It should be noted that Jackson and Carter have shot less than 40 percent from the field so far this season, while Brown is checking in at 42 percent. Carter is a very sharp shooter and ranks 93rd nationally for effective field goal percentage among players who have appeared in at least 40 percent of their team’s total minutes this year. He’s a strong marksman who needs to be kept in check by the Florida defense.
— South Carolina doesn’t get much contribution from its bench as it uses non-starters for just 26.2 percent of its total minutes, which is very little compared to many other high-major teams. Only 68 teams in the country use their benches less than South Carolina, as measured by the percentage of minutes played.
— The Gamecocks were almost as bad on defense as they were on offense. The team ranks 240th in adjusted efficiency and, like its offense, sits outside the top 250 teams in almost every major category. Florida should have plenty of scope to play at all levels, especially from the 2-point range where they’ve been extremely successful this season. South Carolina has given up very high field goal percentages from the 2- and 3-point ranges.
FORECAST: KenPom predicts Florida will beat South Carolina 74-57, giving the Gators a 94 percent chance of winning regardless of the final score.
The reality is that Florida shouldn’t have any trouble getting past this South Carolina roster, even without starting up front Alex Fudge. The Gators consistently play elite defense and displayed more offensive cohesion and rhythm in their final game than perhaps at any other point in the season.
South Carolina, in its first season under a new head coach, has put up little resistance to opponents at either end of the stage, and it would be truly shocking if Florida weren’t able to capitalize on that.
The Gators are 15.5-point betting favorites, which is their widest point spread in the SEC game.