With two burly big men in Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes and guard Jordan McRae, Tennessee had the look of a team capable of at the very least challenging No. 6 Florida in Gainesville Saturday afternoon. McRae entered the game averaging more than 19 points per game, with Maymon and Stokes also in double figures for Cuonzo Martin’s team. Would they be expected to win? Probably not, but it wasn’t too much to expect the Volunteers to put forth a respectable effort.
That didn’t happen. The Volunteers missed multiple shots around the rim and McRae made just one of his 15 attempts as the Gators rolled to the 67-41 victory. Billy Donovan’s team shot 48% from the field, with Michael Frazier II leading four players in double figures with 17 points. Yet even with that being the case, Florida does have some fine-tuning to do when it comes to their execution in half-court sets. One area of concern is that teams can sag off of Kasey Hill in ball-screen situations and dare him to shoot jumpers at this stage, and that’s something Florida needs to change in the coming weeks.
However, the biggest thing to take out of the win was Florida’s defense.
Tennessee shot just 26% from the field, by far their worst performance of the season, and outside of Stokes the Volunteers could get nothing established offensively. And for a team that struggled defending the three in SEC play, ranking 11th in three-point percentage defense, Florida limited Tennessee to 1-for-19 from beyond the arc.
Between their man-to-man and occasional pressure looks, the Gators were successful in their quest to keep Tennessee from doing anything with comfort offensively.
At this point it’s clear that Florida is the class of the SEC, even with Kentucky making strides in the right direction, and they have the talent and ability needed to accomplish even more than simply winning a conference title.
When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.
LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.
Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).
All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.
The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.
Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.