Gators Take on Ole Miss Thursday

With just six Southeastern Conference matchups remaining, the University of Florida women’s basketball team continues the stretch run of its 2019-20 slate when it welcomes Ole Miss Thursday night for a 6 p.m. ET tip at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Date:Thursday, Feb. 13
Time:6 p.m. ET
Matchup:Florida (12-11, 3-7) vs. Ole Miss (7-16, 0-10)
Location:Gainesville, Fla. | Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell
TV:SEC Network+ with Kyle Crooks & Brittany Davis
Live Stats: Here
Radio:WRUF ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM  with Tom Collett & Kelly Davis
Game Notes:Florida Ole Miss
Promotions:Buy One, Get One Free Tickets
Special Olympics Halftime Competition 
Danielle Rainey Player Day

The Gators last took to the hardwood this past Thursday when they hosted the Georgia Lady Bulldogs. Despite building a half time advantage and putting together a gritty defensive performance, Florida was unable to hold on and dropped a 49-43 final. Redshirt-senior Zada Williams served as the main source of UF’s offensive production as she added her fifth double-double of the season with a 13 point, 11 rebound effort.

Williams, who has finished with consecutive double-doubles for the second time this season, continues to lead the team with an eye-popping .620 field goal percentage. The native Floridian is a career .540 shooter from the floor and over her last three games has connected on 16 of her 22 attempts.

Another Florida forward excelled against UGA; freshman Faith Dut finished with new career highs across the board. The six-foot-four Canadian tallied a career-high eight points and a career-high five rebounds in 18 minutes of play, also a career best.

Florida allowed just 15 first half points vs. Georgia, the fewest its conceded in a half this season. It was the lowest amount of first half points allowed by the Gators since they conceded the same number to South Alabama on Nov. 11, 2015.

Despite being held to a single-digit point for just the third time this season when the Gators battled Georgia, Lavender Briggs has been the pace setter all season for Florida. Briggs, who leads the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game, has scored over 300 points this season. She is just the 17th freshmen in program history to eclipse 300 points in a single season and continues to climb the freshmen scoring charts.

Redshirt-junior guard Kiki Smith, the team’s leader in assists, steals and free throw attempts, also boasts a double-figure scoring average at 12.2 points per game. 

History is on Florida’s side Thursday night. Its .536 winning percentage against Ole Miss is its second-best against any SEC opponent, trailing just Arkansas (.702).

The teams split a pair of matchups a season ago, but it was the Gators who had the last laugh. Ole Miss claimed the first meeting between the squads on its home turf, 76-66 in late January. The Gators returned the favor in March, posting a 64-57 win in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.

The last meeting between the teams in Gainesville was a memorable one. On Jan. 21, 2018, Florida overcame a 13-point deficit to start the fourth quarter by outscoring Ole Miss, 18-4, in the final period to post a 61-60 victory at the O’Dome. The Gators opened the fourth quarter with a 14-0 run and Haley Lorenzen blocked a layup with nine seconds left to seal the win.

The overall series history sways in favor of Florida also as the Gators own a 22-19 edge. Each of the last six meetings has been decided by 10 or fewer points with Ole Miss posting a 4-2 record in that span.

Ole Miss enters the matchup with a 7-16 overall record and has dropped its first 10 conference contests. The Rebels, who will play for the second-straight time on the road, dropped a 63-47 decision at Vanderbilt last Sunday. DePaul transfer and Chicago native, Deja Cage, paces the Rebels at 12.7 points per game. In her first season in Oxford, Cage has made 49 three-pointers, the fourth-most in the SEC this season. Freshman guard Jayla Alexander, who has started the last 12 games, averages 9.3 points per game while redshirt-sophomore Mimi Reid ranks top 10 in the conference averaging 3.6 helpers per tilt. The Rebels defend the three-point line well, allowing on average .284 shooting from distance.

Ole Miss, which was selected to finish 13th in the SEC preseason media poll, is under the direction of second year head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. She spent the previous five seasons at the helm at Jacksonville, leading the Dolphins to a 94-63 record during that span and three-straight 20 wins seasons.

Following Thursday’s tilt, the Gators hit the road for consecutive matchups away from Gainesville. The road stint kicks off Sunday at Missouri. 

  • With 12 wins, UF has already surpassed its win total from each of the last two seasons and with three SEC victories, the Gators have matched their total from the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
  • UF’s defense has been much improved this season as it is allowing nearly five points less per game on average than it did a season ago. It has held 16 of its 23 opponents below their season scoring average, and despite its loss, Florida limited Georgia to just 49 points, the Bulldogs’ fewest in an SEC contest this year.
  • Freshman guard Nina Rickards has really come on strong as of late, she’s averaging 9.1 points per game over her last eight (3.1 in seven prior). She has upped her three-point shooting percentage from .278 (non-conference) to .385 in SEC play.
  • Lavender Briggs (35.0) and Kiki Smith (34.5) rank first and second in the SEC in minutes played.
  • Of Florida’s 12 losses those teams have combined for a 187-72 record (.722 winning percentage) as of Feb. 11.
  • Over the last 20 years, a Florida freshman has led the team in scoring for the season just once when Bernice Mosby finished at 11.9 points per game. Only six times in that span has a freshman averaged double figures and only once has a freshman averaged 13 or more points for the season (Brooks, 13.7/2005-06).
  • The Gators lead the SEC in games played by underclassmen (146) and are third in games started (68). True freshmen and sophomores account for 63 percent of the Gators’ offense.
  • Cam Newbauer and Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin are both in their seventh seasons as an NCAA Division I head coach and have amassed the same number of wins, 110.

SOCIAL: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram