Struggling Gamecocks make trip to face streaking Gators

Things definitely look good for Florida at the moment. The No. 11 Gators have a five-game winning streak, have won 17 consecutive games at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and host a South Carolina team that the Gators beat by 12 points in Columbia last month.

Florida hasn’t played since beating then-No. 16 Mississippi State 69-57 on Saturday at home, a victory that moved the Gators within one game of first-place Kentucky in the SEC.

South Carolina (9-11 overall, 1-5 SEC) is struggling, having dropped five of its past six. The Gamecocks have only one conference victory and are tied with Georgia for last in the SEC.

The Gamecocks rank last in the SEC in field-goal percentage defense, not a good thing considering Florida leads the conference and ranks eighth nationally in scoring. But it was South Carolina’s offense that short-circuited any hopes of an upset when Florida won in Columbia on Jan. 14.

The Gamecocks did not score during an eight-minute stretch of the second half, and shot 25.8 percent from the field after halftime. Bruce Ellington, a standout on the South Carolina football team, is second on the team in scoring at 10.8 points. He scored 17 points against Florida in his first start of the season.

The Gators (17-4, 5-1) put six players in double figures against the Gamecocks, led by Kenny Boynton’s 15 points. Florida took control with an 18-3 run to start the second half. Five Gators average in double figures.

While Florida’s average scoring output has dropped to 80.7, the Gators have cranked up the defensive intensity, allowing an average of 58.8 points during their winning streak. Bradley Beal won SEC Freshman of the Week for the fourth time last week, scoring 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting in the victory over Mississippi State.

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