The Ospreys have done special things over the past couple seasons, from hosting an ASUN title game, making the NCAA Tournament and having the Gators in town last March for an NIT game. Tonight’s game will add to that already spectacular list as North Florida (3-5) hosts a top-25 team for the first time. The Florida Gators (6-1) are coming off two wins at the Advocare Invitational last week in Orlando.
As of Wednesday, reserved seats and general admission were still available for the UNF Arena matchup. Hit up UNFOspreys.com or call (904) 620-BIRD. Coverage of the Gators-Ospreys will be on 1010XL, and you can watch the action on ESPN3 at 7 p.m.
The Gators are 5-0 against North Florida. UNF played Florida at the UNF Arena in the first round of the NIT on March 15, 2016 when the Gators ran away with a victory, 97-68.
Like in the North Dakota game, Ospreys lead guard Dallas Moore needs to take over the game tonight to keep UNF from scoring droughts like they had in Dayton. Also Moore needs 9 more assists to become UNF’s career leader.
Transfer Canyon Barry – of course, you have heard he’s the son of Rick Barry – changes the flow for the Gators. He is able to penetrate and free up his teammates. He is fun to watch, especially when you add in his underhand free throw shooting like his dad used to do.
The Ospreys moving a bench player in the starting five will still be an option this year, as long as the turnovers keep piling up. Until then, you have to assume the same five will trot out: Dallas Moore (#14), Aaron Bodager (12), Nick Malonga (23), Chris Davenport (35) and Romelo Banks (33).
The Gators don’t need to tinker with too much. They have: Kasey Hill (#0), KeVaughn Allen (5), Devin Robinson (1), Justin Leon (23) and John Egbunu (15).
About the Florida Gators:
The 6-1 Gators look different without last year’s stud Dorian Finney-Smith. Florida has played all seven games in their home state so far. Last week the Gators defeated Seton Hall and Miami (who UNF also played this season) but lost to No. 11 Gonzaga. The Gators are vying for the title of second-best team in the SEC. Like most recent seasons, Kentucky is the runaway top squad. However, the Gators are built to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
In March, the Ospreys and Gators played in front of 6,011 fans. That’s the second-largest crowd in the UNF Arena’s history. No matter the outcome it’s still amazing North Florida is hosting a top-25 team with (most likely) over 4,000 fans in attendance. It is tough to tell how many UF fans will pass will the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta this weekend.
The Gators should run plays exclusively for KeVaughn Allen and Devin Robinson before the first media timeout. Let John Egbunu clean up any mess. He did have 13 and 10 in the NIT game.
How UNF Can Win:
No turnovers, play perfect basketball while the Osprey Nation cheers them on. A nearly impossible task is more reasonable at home. We fear it could be like the NIT game.