(2) Florida (18-2) at Arkansas (13-8)
Tuesday, February 5, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bud Walton Arena (19,368) -- Fayetteville, Arkansas. Television: ESPN. Home Record: UF 10-0, UA 13-1. Away Record: UF 6-2, UA 0-5. Neutral Record: UF 2-0, UA 0-2. Conference Record: UF 8-0, UA 4-4. Series Record: Florida leads, 15-10.
GAME NOTES: The Florida Gators are out to prove they are worthy of their newly-appointed No. 2 ranking, as they hit the road to tangle with the Arkansas Razorbacks in SEC action on Tuesday night.
Florida dropped a pair of road games this season to nationally-ranked squads Arizona (65-64) and Kansas State (67-61), but other than that it has been flawless. The Gators are in the midst of a season-long, 10-game win streak, which has catapulted them to 18-2 overall, and they improved to a perfect 8-0 in SEC action this past Saturday with a 78-64 home triumph over ranked Ole Miss. The win allowed them to jump from No. 4 to No. 2 in the latest AP poll, their highest position since ranking No. 1 following the 2006-07 season.
Arkansas snapped a two-game skid on Saturday afternoon with a 73-60 victory over Tennessee to even out its SEC record at 4-4. The win continued the Razorbacks' incredible run on their home floor, where they have won a total of 13 games this season. Their only loss at home came back in November against nationally-ranked Syracuse.
Florida leads Arkansas in the all-time series, 15-10, although it is just 4-7 against the Hogs as the road team.
Florida thoroughly dominated its latest contest, outshooting Ole Miss from the floor, .516 to .382, while leading the game wire-to-wire. Erik Murphy was nearly perfect on the evening, shooting 7-of-8 from the field with five 3- pointers for 19 points. Mike Rosario scored 14 points, Patric Young tallied a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, Scottie Wilbekin tacked on 13 points and seven assists, and while Kenny Boynton shot only 3-of-13 from the floor, he rounded out a great effort from the starting five with nine points and 10 assists. The Gators have been exceptional on offense this season, shooting a conference-best 49.6 percent from the field for 74.0 ppg, but they have been able to ascend to elite status by playing outstanding at the other end of the floor, ranking second in the nation in both field goal percentage defense (.360) and scoring defense (51.0 ppg). Pacing a balanced scoring attack is Boynton with 13.4 ppg, although Murphy (12.9 ppg, 43-of-84 from 3- point range) is hot on his heels. Rosario nets 12.1 ppg, Young adds 11.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, and 1.9 bpg, while Wilbekin (9.3 ppg) has a fantastic assist-to- turnover ratio (91-to-35).
Arkansas shot an impressive 48.3 percent from the field in its latest triumph, but it also made its mark at the defensive end by earning extra possessions in winning the turnover battle, 20-8. B.J. Young's talents were utilized off the bench and he responded with 25 points on 9-of-15 field goal efficiency. Marshawn Powell scored 12 points, Hunter Mickelson added 10 points and four steals, and Michael Qualls grabbed 11 rebounds in the victory. On the season, the Razorbacks are one of the few teams in the conference that actually score more than Florida, netting 77.0 ppg. Young is one of the league's best guards, shooting 46.5 percent from the floor for 16.7 ppg (third in the SEC), while piling up twice as many assists (81) as turnovers (40). Powell rounds out a stellar inside-outside duo with 15.3 ppg and 5.6 rpg. Although the Hogs' scoring defense ranks just 13th in the league (68.3 ppg), they are aided by one of the nation's best turnover margins (+6.8).
Arkansas' dominance at Bud Walton Arena has been well-documented, but it has still been far too inconsistent this season to trust against one of the nation's dominant squads. The Gators defense will stifle the Razorbacks offensive attack as the visitors continue their reign atop the SEC.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 71, Arkansas 66
02/05 10:32:52 ET