The University of Florida women’s basketball team opens SEC play Thursday, Jan. 3 when it travels to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Tipoff from Coleman Coliseum is slated for 8 p.m. ET as the Gators and Crimson Tide meet for the 59th time.
The contest will be streamed live on SEC Network+ with Eli Gold and Rick Moody on the call while Kyle Crooks and Brittany Davis will handle the radio broadcast on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM.
Florida enters conference competition fresh off its 70-60 win over Charleston Southern this past Sunday. The Gators, who notched their fourth-straight home victory, ended their non-conference slate in the win column after a 30-point outburst from redshirt-senior guard Funda Nakkasoglu. Scoring her most points since joining the Florida program, the Australian connected on 9-of-12 shots from the floor and knocked down all eight of her tries at the free throw line. Veterans Nakkasoglu, Zada Williams who added a career-high 18 points, and Delicia Washington combined to score 61 of Florida’s 70 points. The trio of upperclassmen accounted for all 20 of the Gators made field goals on the day. The game saw nine ties and seven lead changes, but Florida made its move in fourth, outscoring the Buccaneers 23-16 in the frame. In the final period Florida would connect on just one field goal, a Nakkasoglu three-pointer, but the Gators iced the game from the charity stripe draining 20 of 21 from the line.
During Florida 13-game non-conference slate, Nakkasoglu finished leading the conference in three-pointers per game (3.4) and three-point percentage (.507) and ranking second in scoring (18.9) and seventh in field goal percentage (.533).
Alabama wrapped up its non-conference slate with an 8-5 record and was pegged to finish 10th in the SEC Preseason Poll. The Tide features a trio of players who enter the contest averaging double-digit points, paced by junior guards Jordan Lewis and Cierra Johnson who are tied for the team lead with a 13.5 points per game average. Sophomore forward Jasmine Walker averages a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game to go with 13.2 points. After a stretch of three-straight losses against Tulsa, Louisiana Tech and South Alabama, the Crimson Tide have won three of their last four games entering Thursday’s matchup. Alabama fell 101-74 to No. 24 Miami (Fla.) in its most recent action on Dec. 21 at the Florida Sunshine Classic in Winter Park, Fla. Alabama leads the SEC in defensive rebounding, averaging 29.2 per game. UA is under the direction of sixth-year head coach Kristy Curry who has amassed a 92-84 record in Tuscaloosa and over 400 wins overall in her 20 year coaching career.
Thursday marks the 59th overall meeting between the programs as Alabama holds a slight edge at 30-28 in a series that dates back to 1975. A season ago the squads squared off in Gainesville and the Tide spoiled the Gators’ SEC Home Opener with a 63-54 win. The Gators have won seven of the last eight matchups in the series including three-straight in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama is one of three teams Florida will see twice during conference play as the Gators and Crimson Tide will again square off on Feb. 7 in Gainesville.
The Gators and Crimson Tide share one common opponent in Utah. Alabama fell at Utah 72-62 in mid-November while UF dropped a 74-58 decision to the Utes in Las Vegas at the Duel in the Desert on Dec. 20.
Following Thursday tussle in Tuscaloosa, the Gators return to Gainesville to host Auburn in their 2018-19 SEC Home Opener on Sunday, Jan. 6.
- Florida and Alabama have met 58 times which is the third-most games the Gators have played against an opponent.
- Florida has won four-straight home games but is in search of its first road win when it travels to Alabama on Thursday.
- Funda Nakkasoglu (30), Zada Williams (18) and Delicia Washington (13) combined to score 61 of Florida’s 70 points against Charleston Southern (87 percent). The trio of upperclassmen helped will the Gators to a win and snap a three-game skid. The three players accounted for all 20 of UF’s made field goals.
- Florida has held its opponent to 60 points or fewer points in five of the last six games.
- Nakkasoglu’s 30 points vs. Charleston Southern were the most points she has scored in 38 games since joining the Gator program. Nakkasoglu’s career high including her 60-game career at Utah State is 37 which she scored against Pacific in November of 2015 with the Aggies. The redshirt-senior has already recorded seven games with 20 or more points.
- With Nakkasoglu’s 30 vs. Charleston Southern and Washington’s 33 at Mercer, 2018-19 marked the first time since 2016-17 season that Florida had multiple players notch 30-point performances. Washington scored 31 vs. Indiana and Ronni Williams racked up four games with 30 or more points during the 2016-17 campaign.
- Williams’ 18 points vs. Charleston Southern were a career high for the redshirt-junior including the 35 games she played with the University of Miami (Fla.) from 2015-2017. Williams has really picked it up over the last six games averaging 12.3 points per game after scoring 6.6 per contest through Florida’s first seven.
- UF’s bench is outscoring opponents, 231-160 on the season and the Gators have held the edge in terms of bench production in eight games.
- After just one game with at least 12 assists through its first six games, Florida has racked up 12 or more assists in five of its last seven games and has registered 10 or more in three-straight games.
- In the fourth quarter against Charleston Southern, the Gators connected on 20 of their 21 attempts from the free throw line to help ice their victory. Florida’s previous high for free throws made in a game was 16, which had happened twice, but the Gators surpassed that in just one quarter of play on Sunday.
- Against Charleston Southern, the Gator starting lineup featured four newcomers.