West Palm Beach Bound Gators Face Xavier Friday

 The University of Florida women’s basketball team returns to action Friday, Dec. 20 when it takes on Xavier in the opening round of the West Palm Beach Invitational on the campus of Keiser University. Tipoff is slated for 4:45 p.m. ET as the Gators and Musketeers square off for the first time in their respective program histories. Saturday, Florida takes on Wake Forest at 12:15 p.m. in its final matchup of the holiday tournament.

Game 1vs. Xavier (1-8)
Date & Time:Friday, Dec. 20 | 4:45 p.m.
Game 2vs. Wake Forest (5-4)
Date & Time:Saturday, Dec. 21 | 12:15 p.m.
Location:West Palm Beach, Fla. | Keiser University | Student Life Center
Live StreamHere
Radio:WRUF ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM  with Kyle Crooks & Brittany Davis
Live Stats:Here
Game Notes:Florida

After a nine-day break, the Gators returned to game action this past Tuesday when they hosted the Mercer Bears. Florida knocked down 10 three-pointers, played strong defense and outrebounded its opponent as it posted a 71-50 victory. Paced by redshirt-junior Kiki Smith’s career-high 21 points, Florida pushed its recorded to 7-3. Smith (21 points and 10 rebounds) and Lavender Briggs (10 points and 11 rebounds) each recorded a double-double while Ariel Johnson registered 10 points off the bench.

Smith, Briggs and Zada Williams are all scoring north of 10 points per game to open the season. Smith has been doing a little bit of everything, averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals while Williams has been especially effective over her last five games, averaging 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient .638 from the floor. Briggs has scored 10 or more points in eight of her first nine games to start her career, becoming the first Gator to accomplish this feat through records dating back to the 1986-87 season. Her 12.9 points per game average is the highest by a UF rookie through their first nine career games since 2002.

Returning letterwinners Smith, Williams, Johnson and Kristina Moore have all seen quite an uptick in production from last season to 2019-20.


2018-197.1 ppg4.6 rpg32.2 mpg
2019-2013.8 ppg6.3 rpg34.9 mpg


2018-198.0 ppg4.8 rpg25.0 mpg
2019-2011.5 ppg8.1 rpg24.0 mpg


2018-195.3 ppg2.7 rpg20.1 mpg
2019-208.2 ppg4.7 rpg25.6 mpg


2018-194.9 ppg2.3 rpg21.4 mpg
2019-207.2 ppg5.0 rpg24.7 mpg

Friday marks the first meeting between the Gators and Musketeers.

The Musketeers enter the tournament with a 1-8 record under first year head coach Melanie Moore. After opening the season with a victory over Utah, the Musketeers have dropped eight straight, five of which were single digit setbacks. Xavier, slated to finish eighth in the Big East, is paced offensively by junior A’riana Gray who leads the team in scoring (13.9) and rebounding (9.7). The Cleveland native and Preseason All-Big East selection leads the conference in rebounding. Junior guard Aaliyah Dunham averages 8.8 points a game and leads the team in assists (4.4) and steals (2.4) per game, both top five marks in the conference rankings. The Musketeers endured a stretch of four out of five games away from home but played three-straight home games before heading south for the holiday tournament. Moore spent the previous seven seasons with the Michigan Wolverines, most recently serving as the associate head coach before assuming the post in Cincinnati.

The Gators and Demon Deacons will meet for the second time. The first meeting between the programs happened back on Jan. 3, 1983 in Gainesville when the Gators posted a 68-61 victory.

Wake Forest enters the weekend with a 5-4 record and is set to take on Dayton in its first matchup of the tournament. The Demon Deacons were selected to finish 15th in the ACC Preseason Poll. Wake Forest is one of the best rebounding teams in its league hauling in 46.1 per game and boasting a +15.9 rebounding margin, both top two marks in the ACC. Junior forward Ivana Raca is Wake Forest’s main offensive threat, averaging a team-best 15.4 points per game. Alex Sharp and Gina Conti also average double figures, checking in with 12.6 and 10.6 scoring averages, respectively. Sharp grabs a team-best 9.2 rebounds per game, a top 10 mark across the league. Wake is under the direction of eighth-year head coach Jen Hoover. Hoover, a graduate of Wake Forest, has over 100 wins at her alma mater.

Following this weekend’s action, Florida next returns to the hardwood Sunday, Dec. 29 when it hosts Davidson in its non-conference finale.


  • The Gators have held their last eight opponents below their scoring average. On five occasions they have held their opponent to less than 30 percent shooting after only doing so twice last year.
  • UF has outrebounded its opponent in eight games and is 7-1 when doing so. Its +9.0 rebound margin is fifth in the SEC.
  • Florida’s freshmen class has accounted for 35 percent of its total scoring this season.
  • Briggs has a team-high four double-doubles; one of two SEC freshmen with at least four (Aliyah Boston, South Carolina).
  • Through 10 games last season, UF was just 3-7. Through 10 games this season, UF sits at 7-3. The Gators haven’t opened a season 7-3 since the 2016-17 season.
  • Through games as of Dec. 17, Florida is one of just four SEC programs to battle at least two AP Top 25 teams (FSU, Indiana) this season. These matchups accounted for two of UF’s losses while the other came on the road at undefeated Kansas.
  • With a win this weekend, Florida would match its win total of the entire 2018-19 season with eight.
  • At Florida, Coach Newbauer is 4-6 in neutral site contests which includes a 1-3 mark in holiday tournaments. 

SOCIAL: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram