The University of Florida women’s basketball team plays it first of three games this week when it hosts No. 21 Texas A&M for a conference clash Monday, Feb. 25 at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET as the Gators and Aggies battle for the 11thtime.
The contest will air live nationally on the SEC Network with Brenda VanLengen and A’ja Wilson on the call while Kyle Crooks and Brittany Davis will handle the radio broadcast on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM.
Monday marks “Saluting Those Who Serve” night at Exactech Arena as members of the armed forces will be recognized for their service and dedication. Tickets are buy one, get one free as part of the BOGO Weeknights promotion and fans will have the opportunity to see how long they can stay on the mechanical gator which returns to the atrium for Florida’s final two home matchups.
Florida resumes game action after dropping a 69-51 decision at LSU on Thursday night. The Gators trailed just 31-28 at the intermission, but LSU pulled away by outscoring UF 38-23 in the final 20 minutes. Redshirt senior-guard Funda Nakkasoglu finished with a team-best 11, scoring in double figures for the 20th time this season, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers improved to 11-5 at home this season. Along with Nakkasoglu’s play, Emanuely de Oliveira and Ariel Johnson also provided bright spots for Florida as each freshmen player scored nine points. Florida held a 19-7 edge in bench production but the Gators couldn’t overcome one of the league’s best defense units in LSU as they were limited to their third-fewest points of the 2018-19 campaign.
Texas A&M, 9-2 over its last 11 games, takes on the Gators after cruising to a 79-62 victory over Tennessee in College Station this past Thursday. The Aggies enter the matchup with a 9-4 record in league play and they are one of four SEC squads ranked in the AP Top 25. Sophomore guard Chennedy Carter, the reigning National Freshman of the Year and 2018 All-SEC First Team selection, leads the conference in scoring at 22.4 points per game. Carter ranks top 10 nationally in scoring and shot attempts per game. Sophomore forward N’Dea Jones is one of the league’s most talented rebounders as she averages 11.2 boards per contest, the second most in the SEC. The Aggies feature four players with double-digit point averages as Louisville transfer Ciera Johnson is also an important piece for them offensively, averaging 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. TAMU is a strong defensive team and a strong rebounding team as it ranks top three in the conference in field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. The Aggies are under the direction of 16th-year head coach Gary Blair who has guided his team to 13 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a National Championship in 2011.
In 10 meetings between the programs, Texas A&M holds a 9-1 edge. Florida’s lone win vs. the Aggies came during the 2015-16 season when it claimed an 83-81 win over No. 12 Texas A&M on Feb. 4, 2019. This was also UF’s last win over a ranked opponent.
In last season’s matchup Florida carried a 43-37 edge into the half and finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor but couldn’t slow down the Aggies in the end, falling 85-80 in College Station.
UF finishes its regular season with home matchups in two of its final three games. All six Gator wins have come at the O’Dome where it averages 63.8 points compared to 56.6 on the road. UF has a +3.4 rebounding margin at home compared to a -6.1 mark on the road.
Following Monday’s competition, the Gators will host their 2018-19 home finale when they welcome Georgia for a 7 p.m. ET tilt on Thursday, Feb. 28. Thursday marks Senior Night at the O’Dome as senior Funda Nakkasoglu will be honored during a pre-game ceremony.
- Through 26 games, Florida has drained 200 three-pointers which is the fourth-most in program history. The Gators have knocked down 200 or more three-pointers in consecutive seasons for just the second time in program history joining the 2008-09 and 2009-10 squads. The Gators set the program record with 249 made treys a season ago in Newbauer’s first season at the helm.
- A season ago, in a mid-February matchup at Texas A&M, Florida canned 13 three-pointers running its season total to 224, which set the new program record.
- Florida’s last win over an AP Top 25 team occurred against Texas A&M when the Gators upset the No. 12 Aggies on Feb. 4, 2016 in Gainesville. UF earned three wins over top 15 teams that season en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Monday’s matchup features two of the leagues’ top seven scorers as Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter averages an SEC-best 22.4 points per game and Nakkasoglu scores 16.3 per contest.
- Funda Nakkasoglu has 20 double-figure scoring games this season just one off her mark of 21 from a season ago.
- Between her Utah State and Florida careers, Funda Nakkasoglu has scored 1,957 points. Her total is the second highest mark among active players in the SEC (trailing just Sophie Cunningham, 2,028). Her total ranks her 19th among all active NCAA I players. In her 52 game career with UF she has scored 808 points and her 15.5 points per game average is the sixth-highest in program history. Her 143 three-pointers made are the seventh most in program history and her .390 mark from three-point range is the best in program history.
- As of Feb. 22, Florida ranks 42nd nationally in Strength of Schedule and has taken on six teams currently ranked in the RPI’s top 50. UF has battled 16 teams that qualified for the postseason a season ago. NCAA Tournament (FSU, Mercer, Ohio State, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, LSU), WNIT (Indiana, Bethune-Cookman, Utah, UNLV, Alabama) WBI (Northeastern). Through 26 games, five of UF’s opponents are either ranked in the AP Top 25 or receiving votes.
- UF’s 8 newcomers have accounted for 71% of its minutes and 60% of its scoring this season.
- UF’s bench is outscoring its opponent’s bench, 485-38 on the season and the Gators have held the edge in 15 games.
- Florida ranks 21st nationally in three-pointers attempted (670) while ranking 54th in three-pointers made (200). The Gators attempted 37 triples vs. Arkansas which was the second most ever shot in Florida history.