Florida Gators basketball seeks improvement against South Carolina

University of Florida head basketball coach Mike White holds a press conference at the 2016 media day / Gator Country photo by David Bowie The Florida Gators basketball team is riding its longest winning streak since the historic 30-game streak of the 2013-14 season. The Gators are nowhere near that mark just yet, but over the last several weeks they have compiled a perfect SEC and home record.

While Florida has won six consecutive games in that span, head coach Mike White does not believe the team has even come close to playing its best basketball. Not every final score indicates it, but the Gators had lapses and showed weaknesses at times in every SEC game so far this season.

“No we’re not, we’re not,” White said when asked if the team was playing to its potential. “I hate to say that because Georgia is very, very good, but we didn’t give Georgia our best defensive effort. We’re playing well offensively, we are, and we’ve made a big jump probably due mostly to the fact that our bench has really emerged with Canyon (Barry) and Keith (Stone). We’re a much better team offensively than we were a month ago. That was the hope and we’re getting that, but defensively, some of our better performances were three, five and six weeks ago. We’ve got to get back to defending at the level that we’re capable of and not playing comfortably because we see the ball go through the net or we’ve experienced a little bit of success. We’ve got to get back to what we’re capable of.”

Wednesday’s game at South Carolina will be Florida’s chance to get back to playing defense the way it was early on, but it will not be a simple task. The Gamecocks will be the biggest test the Gators have had yet in conference play and the best competitor they have faced since falling on the road to Florida State back in December.

South Carolina moved into the rankings this week at No. 24 in the AP Poll, while Florida slid into the top 20 at No. 19. It will be the first time the Gators have played in an SEC game between two ranked teams since No. 1 Florida defeated No. 25 Kentucky in the 2014 SEC Tournament title game.

The Gamecocks come in as one of the top defensive teams not only in the SEC, but in the entire country. South Carolina leads the conference in six different defensive categories. The Gators will be tested from beyond the arc, as the Gamecocks specialize in three-point defense. It leads the nation in three-point field goal percentage defense, allowing just 27.9 percent, and is fifth in the nation in three-point field goals allowed this season.

South Carolina’s defense is one of the hottest in the country, but outside of production from senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, its offense is below average. The true story of this game will be decided by how well Florida’s offense can matchup to the pressure and […]