(5) Florida (7-0) at (8) Arizona (7-0)
Saturday, December 15, 10 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKale Center (14,538) -- Tucson, Arizona. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Florida 5-0, Arizona 5-0. Away Record: Florida 1-0, Arizona 2-0. Neutral Record: Florida 1-0, Arizona 0-0. Conference Record: Florida 0-0, Arizona 0-0. Series Record: Florida leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: A top-10 matchup is on tap in Tucson on Saturday evening, as the eighth-ranked Arizona Wildcats play host to the fifth-ranked Florida Gators.
Sean Miller's Wildcats have run out to a 7-0 start, playing the majority of those contests in the friendly confines of the McKale Center. Arizona was last in action a week ago, coming off just its second road game of the season, topping Clemson in Death Valley, 66-54 on Dec. 8.
Billy Donovan's Gators have followed a similar path, sporting an identical 7-0 mark, with five of those games coming in Gainesville. This is the second straight road game for Florida, which remained unbeaten on the season with a 72-47 rout of rival Florida State in Tallahassee back on Dec. 5.
This is just the fourth all-time meeting between these two teams. Florida holds a 2-1 series advantage, capturing each of the last two matchups, including a 78-72 overtime thriller last season in Gainesville.
It was an impressive showing against Florida State last time out for the Gators, who placed four players in double figures, as the team shot a solid .491 from the floor. Senior guards Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario led the way with 14 points each. Freshman guard Michael Frazier added 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench, while junior center Patric Young finished with 10 points. Florida also dominated on the defensive end, holding the Seminoles to a mere .348 shooting, while forcing FSU into 22 turnovers.
It has been efficient play at both ends of the court that has Florida sitting undefeated in mid-December. The Gators are enjoying a +25.3 scoring margin, averaging 73.6 ppg, while ranking second nationally in scoring defense at a mere 48.3 ppg allowed. Boynton is shooting just .400 from the floor thus far, but still leads the team in scoring at 14.4 ppg. Scoring depth is found in Erik Murphy (11.9 ppg), Rosario (11.4 ppg) and Young (10.3 ppg). Young and Will Yeguete spearhead the team's rebounding efforts at 7.9 and 7.4 rpg, respectively.
It was a game of momentum and Arizona came out on top of Clemson, thanks to a late 22-7 run to earn the win on the road. Mark Lyons posted a career-high 20 points to lead all scorers in the game. He was joined in double figures by fellow guard Nick Johnson, who tallied 13 points for the Wildcats. Brandon Ashley finished with nine points in the frontcourt and was joined in his efforts by Solomon Hill, who chipped in with seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Like Florida, Arizona boasts of an unblemished record thanks to stellar play at both ends. The Wildcats have showed themselves to be a potent offensive squad at 79.3 ppg, shooting .486 from the field, including an impressive .405 from behind the arc. The defensive effort has been strong as well, with UA sporting a +20.4 scoring margin, as well as a +11.5 rebounding margin. Three Wildcats currently own double-digit scoring averages, led by Johnson's 13.6 ppg. Lyons is a close second at 13.4 ppg, followed by Hill's 12.3 ppg. Ashley is just outside double figures at 9.3 ppg, despite shooting a team-best .594 from the floor.
In a matchup between two similarly potent squads, the Wildcats get the slim edge simply due to the homecourt advantage. Florida could negate that however, if the Gators get off to a fast start.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 74, Florida 71
12/15 10:38:02 ET