Bama Hoops Hype

PREVIEW: Alabama Travels to Gainesville to face No. 23 Florida

Joe Habshey - Bama Hoops Hype

We never know which Alabama basketball team will take to the court on any given night. However, it is almost a guarantee that Crimson Tide fans are not the only ones that feel that way about their team.

Florida fans are familiar with the feeling of inconsistency, especially since the start of conference play. After being ranked as high as fifth in the AP Poll early in the season, the Gators have gone back and forth from a team that looks like a national contender to a team that could lose in Dayton during March’s First Four. They enter Saturday’s meeting at number 23 in the AP Poll.

The Crimson Tide have lost 12 of the last 13 meetings against the Gators. Alabama has not beaten a ranked Florida team since 2006 and the Tide has never beaten a ranked Florida team in Gainesville. Avery Johnson’s team snapped an 11-game losing streak to Florida two years ago with a 61-55 road win.

Alabama and Florida have each lost two consecutive conference games, sandwiched around wins in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. If both teams are lucky enough to be at their best, the national television crowd will be in for a treat on Saturday.

How To Keep Up

Where: Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.

When: 3 p.m. CT

Watch: ESPN with Bob Wischusen, Dick Vitale and Allison Williams

Listen: Crimson Tide Sports Network with Chris Stewart and Bryan Passink

Projected Starting Lineups

Alabama (14-8, 5-4): Collin Sexton (18.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.2 apg), Dazon Ingram (10.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.0 apg), John Petty (11.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 apg), Braxton Key (5.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.4 apg), Donta Hall (10.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg)

No. 23 Florida (15-7, 6-3): Chris Chiozza (12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.1 apg), KeVaughn Allen (11.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg), Egor Koulechov (14.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.5 apg), Kevarrius Hayes (5.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Keith Stone (8.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg)

Key Matchup

Chris Chiozza vs. Collin Sexton. Collin Sexton has certainly had his share of major point guard battles this season already. This one will be no different as it may involve the two best guards in the SEC. Chiozza leads the conference in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio and is second in steals per game. Sexton’s season-high in turnovers (9) this season came against Tremont Waters, who is first in the SEC in steals. Alabama beat LSU in that game but Sexton struggled. Chiozza will likely get the assignment of guarding Sexton for most of the game and his experience could help frustrate the Tide’s freshman.

Key Stats

75.6 percent. This Florida’s percentage from the free throw line so far this season. That’s good for 42nd in the country and 4th in the conference. The Gators have the SEC’s three best free throw shooters – Chiozza, Koulechov and Allen – who are all shooting better than 89 percent this season. Alabama has been better with its free throw shooting this season and it is 7th in the SEC in percentage (73) since conference play started. However, the Crimson Tide have often been lucky enough to see their opponents struggle from the line too. Alabama’s opponents are shooting 67.7 percent from the stripe this season, which ranks the Tide 31st in the country. That will not be the case on Saturday. It’s a home game with SEC officials for the Gators and getting to the free throw line may be the difference in this one.

Prediction

The two most unpredictable teams in the most unpredictable conference makes this one pretty unpredictable. The only thing we can hope is that we see these two teams play their best basketball at a good pace so we do not have to sit through another game like Alabama’s loss to Missouri. The Crimson Tide are now 7-0 when they turn the ball over more than 15 times. And on top of that, the team is 0-3 in the SEC when Collin Sexton scores more than 20 points. Nothing makes sense and no one knows anything. Enjoy the game. Florida 77, Alabama 73

Caleb Turrentine is the editor for Bama Hoops Hype. You can follow him on Twitter for in-game updates at @BamaHoopsHype.

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