Mississippi Valley State (1-8) at (11) Florida (8-2)
Monday, December 19th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: O'Connell Center (12,000) -- Gainesville, Florida. Television: FSN-FL. Home Record: MVSU 0-0, Florida 4-0. Away Record: MVSU 0-7, Florida 0-2. Neutral Record: MVSU 1-1, Florida 4-0. Conference Record: MVSU 0-0, Florida 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: In what certainly seems to be a non-conference mismatch, the Florida Gators play host to the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils this evening at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.
Mississippi Valley State has yet to play a home game this season and limps into this contest with a 1-8 overall record, including an 0-7 mark in true road affairs. The club has been idle since an 80-56 beating at Ole Miss on December 10, and the schedule for the Delta Devils thus far has been brutal. Fortunately, they figure to be much more competitive when SWAC play begins.
Florida has won its last 10 games at the O'Connell Center dating back to last season, a streak it certainly expects to continue tonight. The Gators have won their last three outings and are coming off an 84-64 romp over Texas A&M on Saturday. The only two losses this season for the team came against Syracuse and Ohio State, arguably the two best teams in all of college basketball.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Florida and Mississippi Valley State on the hardwood.
Paul Crosby seems to be the go-to guy at the offensive end of the court for Mississippi Valley State, but while his 14.1 ppg are certainly impressive, his 37.7 percent shooting from the field needs to improve, as does his negative assist-to-turnover ratio. Terrence Joyner is the only other double-digit scorer on the roster for the Delta Devils, as he provides 12.7 ppg despite his 37.2 percent field goal efficiency. MVSU is netting a mediocre 66.8 ppg this season while yielding 83.6 ppg to opponents. Taking a look at the lopsided loss to Ole Miss last time out, Crosby scored 16 points in 33 minutes of action. The Delta Devils shot a horrendous 29.7 percent from the field in that affair and was outrebounded by a 48-30 margin. Defensively, the club permitted the Rebels to connect on 52.7 percent of their field goal attempts.
The strength of the Florida team is clearly the backcourt, as the trio of Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal and Erving Walker is dangerous. Boynton is scoring 19.0 ppg on the strength of his 46.3 percent shooting from the field, while Beal, a star freshman, provides 15.2 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Walker checks in with 14.1 ppg for the Gators, who are getting 10.9 ppg from Patric Young. UF is generating 86.5 ppg while limiting opponents to 66.9 ppg, and the squad has certainly benefited from a rebounding advantage of almost 10 boards per contest. In the 20-point blowout of Texas A&M, Boynton hit 6-of-12 three- pointers en route to 22 points, while Beal and Walker pitched in 16 points apiece. The Gators earned a decisive 23-7 edge in points from the foul line, key to the easy victory.
Florida should have this one in the bag by intermission, as it is far superior to Mississippi Valley State in all areas. The backcourt of the Gators will be stellar as usual.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 94, Mississippi Valley State 56
12/19 13:08:23 ET