UF Hosts Samford Saturday

The University of Florida women’s basketball team continues its season-long six-game homestand Saturday, Nov. 16 when it hosts Samford at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ET as the Gators look to continue their hot start. 

Date:Saturday, Nov. 16
Time:2 p.m. ET
Opponent:Samford (1-2)
Location:Gainesville, Fla. | Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell
Radio:WRUF ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM 
Radio Talent:Ryan Urquhart & Kelli Davis
Live Stats:Here
TV:SEC Network+
TV Talent: Tom Collett & Brittany Davis
Game Notes:Florida | Samford
Promotions:Kids Corner, Faith Dut’s Player Day

Saturday kicks off the Player Days series at the O’Connell Center, an exciting initiative that will take place at home games this season in which all 12 players on the roster will be celebrated during their special day. The initiative includes personalized video board features, unique social media coverage and other exciting in-game activities. Freshman forward Faith Dut will be the first Player Day of the 2019-20 season. 

Florida, opening the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign, has recorded a win at Grambling State and a victory in its home opener against Longwood.

Last time out vs. Longwood, Florida found its stride in the second and third quarters after facing an early 11-point deficit. Fueled by a pair of double-digit scoring efforts by two freshmen the Gators proved to be too much for the Lancers. First-year guard Lavender Briggs posted her first career double-double notching 16 points and 10 rebounds in her O’Dome debut. Briggs did the majority of her damage from the mid-range area and the charity stripe while classmate Brylee Bartram filled it up from behind the arc with three 3-pointers. Fifth-year senior Zada Williams finished in double digits for the second time in as many games, registering 13 points on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting.

Through two games, Florida’s freshmen have combined for 61 points, the most by a group of Gator rookies since the 2002-03 campaign when a five-player class combined for 87. While the new kids on the block have provided a major lift in the early going, the veteran Williams leads the team in points per game (14.5) and field goal percentage (.684). Fellow redshirt-junior guard Kiki Smith is off to an all-around great start in 2019-20, averaging 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.5 steals. Smith closed last season strong and has picked up right where she left off even taking on an increased leadership role.

Rebounding has been the story for Florida as well. The Gators are +19 on the boards and hauled in 63 vs. Longwood, their most in a single game since the 2016-17 season. UF has been especially effective on the offensive glass, averaging 23 per game a figure that ranks them top 10 in the category in the country. 

Saturday marks the second meeting between the Gators and Bulldogs, the first occurred back on Dec. 28, 2011 when Florida posted an 81-56 win in its non-conference finale. Jennifer George recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the contest.

Samford has opened the season 1-2 with a victory over Montevallo and single-digit losses to Kennesaw State and Troy. The Bulldogs are under new leadership with first-year head coach Carley Kuhns, but have an experienced roster with four starters returning from last season’s squad. One of those returners is Natalie Armstrong who averaged a team-best 10.3 points per game. Guard Paige Serup is also back for Samford after starting all 30 games a season ago. Samford’s most impactful player might be a newcomer as Maryland transfer Sarah Meyers is leading the team in scoring and rebounding averaging 17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, respectively. Samford will play two games in two days in the state of Florida as it travels to Tallahassee to square off with Florida State Sunday at 2 p.m. In addition to their matchups with Power 5 foes, UF and FSU, the Bulldogs travel to Kentucky in December. Samford has two players who hail from the Sunshine State in Christen Carter (Jacksonville) and Audra Leipold (Seffner), a high school teammate of Bartram.

The game will be a reunion of sorts for the two head coaches roaming the sidelines. Kuhns was an assistant coach on Newbauer’s staff at Belmont from 2013-16. Kuhns, in her first year at Samford, spent the previous three seasons as the head coach at Valdosta St.. who UF played in an exhibition this season. In addition, Samford assistant Jon Bollier was on staff with Newbauer and Kuhns at Belmont from 2013-15. 

Following Saturday’s matchup, UF faces a quick turnaround as it returns to action Monday morning vs. Presbyterian. Monday will be Field Trip Day at the O’Connell Center as over 1,000 local elementary students are expected to be on hand for the special 10:30 a.m. tipoff. With Monday’s game occurring during normal business hours, parking at the surrounding lots will not be lifted. Fans without the necessary parking decals are encouraged to park at Flavet Field where there will be a shuttle running from 9:30 a.m. until approximately 45 minutes following the conclusion of the game. 

  • Lavender Briggs (16pts/10rebs) became the first Gator since the 2013-14 season to nab a double-double in her home debut (Ronni Williams, 15/17).
  • UF has started its season 2-0 for the first time since the 2016-17 slate when it opened 4-0.
  • Florida is 10-6 all time against SoCon squads and will take on a pair this season in Samford and Mercer. 
  • The Gators host six-straight home games from Nov. 10 – Dec. 1. Their six-game homestand is the team’s longest since the 2005-06 season when it hosted eight consecutive games.
  • Freshman guard Nina Rickards is averaging 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds through UF’s first two. Rickards hasn’t shown any sign of inexperience, scoring 10 at Grambling and hauling in 12 boards vs. Longwood. 
  • Florida is outscoring its opponents in every quarter but the first so far this season. The Gators have trailed at the end of both first quarters this season, but the second quarter is when they have found their groove, outscoring their opponent 44-24. 

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