|No. 20 Florida on roll heading into meeting with South Carolina|
When last they met, Florida and South Carolina were trying for a spot in last spring's Final Four. The Gamecocks won that matchup in New York City but the Gators aren't really thinking much about revenge when it comes to Wednesday's meeting in Gainesville -- they just want to come up with another Southeastern Conference victory.
No. 20 Florida made it back into the Top 25 this week and has won eight of nine after a bit of a slump. The Gators will meet South Carolina in this SEC game at 7 p.m. but aren't too concerned about that Elite Eight loss.
"Last year was last year," Florida coach Mike White said. "It's a completely different game. Both teams are different."
Right now, though, the Gators are a hot team. The 8-1 stretch includes victories last week over Arkansas and No. 18 Kentucky.
That helped put the Gators in first in the SEC with a 6-1 record.
Florida definitely has played better in recent weeks after a 1-4 skid from late November into mid-December.
Jalen Hudson helped them last week, averaging 19.0 points in the two games and making a key block with 2.5 seconds left as Kentucky tried to tie the game.
Hudson was picked as the Co-SEC Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday, and he is happy with the way his team is playing, especially on defense.
"I feel like we have a good thing going right now; out defense has definitely picked up," Hudson said. "(But) I feel like we have a long way to go."
The team's offense also is doing much better. Now averaging 81.2 points per game, Florida has four players scoring in double figures.
Hudson leads the way with 16.5 points per game. Egor Koulechov (14.4), Chris Chiozza (12.3) and KeVaughn Allen (11.3) also are pitching in as the Gators' offense has been more consistent in recent games.
Offense has been an issue for South Carolina all season. The Gamecocks are averaging just 70.7 points per game and never have scored over 80 points.
Meanwhile, Florida has gone over 80 nine times and even scored more than 100 in four games.
This is the third consecutive ranked team that South Carolina has played, and they've got No. 14 Texas Tech coming next. The Gamecocks are coming off of a 70-63 loss versus Tennessee.
Chris Silva leads South Carolina in scoring, averaging 14.3 points per game. Frank Booker is second at 11.3 points, and those are the only two Gamecocks in double figures now.
South Carolina has been up and down this season -- the Gamecocks are 12-7 overall and 3-4 in the SEC -- but coach Frank Martin is hoping his team is starting to find its way.
"(I'm) very encouraged with the progress our team has made," Martin said. "This league right now is real, real hard. We've just got to remain focused...(on) where we're at. We've made tremendous strides as a team. We just need to keep worrying about that and stay the course."