Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Florida Gators

Tennessee v Alabama
Tennessee v Alabama / Brandon Sumrall/GettyImages

No. 16 Alabama at Florida will tip off at 6:00 CT (7:00 ET) in Gainesville, Florida. The game will be televised on ESPN. 

Coming off its first conference loss in Coleman Coliseum in two years to the day, Alabama is now faced with the challenging task of beating a good Florida team on the road in order to avoid a two-game skid. 

The Gators will be just as motivated as the Tide, if not more. Florida is coming off a close road loss to South Carolina, and took Alabama to overtime in Coleman just two weeks ago. While Todd Golden’s team has cooled off a little bit, it has still won 9 of its last 12 games and remains in contention to be a top-4 seed in the SEC Tournament. While Florida is something of a long shot to get that elusive double-bye, beating Alabama would go a long way towards helping it reach the top four.

Florida is led by its backcourt of Walter Clayton and Zyon Pullin, both of whom are gifted shot-creators who average over 15 points per game while facilitating the rest of the Gators’ offense. Clayton went for 27 points and five assists in the first matchup with Alabama, while Pullin added 17 points and six assists. Both guards played almost the entirety of the overtime game, logging 40+ minutes apiece.

On the wing, Will Richard gives Florida even more scoring punch. Fellow wing Riley Kugel’s role has diminished as the season has progressed, but he is still one of the most talented scorers in the league. Among some other impressive performances, Kugel has recorded 20+ point games against Auburn, Baylor, and Wake Forest this season. 

Senior big man Tyrese Samuel is a problem down low, averaging nearly 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. Two younger bigs, sophomore Micah Handlogten and freshman Alex Condon have developed nicely and now play key roles for Todd Golden.

Both average north of 6 points, 6 rebounds, and a block a game for the Gators, giving the Florida frontcourt an extra edge with their length and aggressiveness. In Tuscaloosa, Condon scored 10 points off the bench while Handlogten made a major impact with 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.

This is one of the most important games of the year for Alabama Basketball, and one that will test the mettle of this team. It won’t get as much fanfare, considering it is a mid-week game against an unranked opponent, but this one is huge.  

Bama needs this win to avoid a two-game losing streak and remain in position for a double-bye in the SEC Tournament.