American University (2-10) at Florida (8-3)
Monday, December 28th, 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: American 1-6, Florida 5-1. Away Record: American 1-4, Florida 1-0. Neutral Record: American 0-0, Florida 2-2. Conference Record: American 0-0, Florida 0-0. Series Record: Florida leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The struggling Florida Gators hope to get back to their winning ways as they entertain the American University Eagles tonight at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville.
American opened the season with seven consecutive losses, and the team currently owns a 2-10 overall record. The Eagles were most recently in action last Monday when they dropped a 76-57 decision to Penn State. After this evening's tilt, two more non-conference games remain before the start of Patriot League play.
As for Florida, it has yet to play an SEC tilt, and many challenges await within the league. The Gators opened the season with eight consecutive victories to earn a spot in the national poll, but three straight defeats have sent the club crashing back to Earth. Last Tuesday, Billy Donovan's group dropped a 67-66 decision to South Alabama in front of a deflated Gainesville crowd. With the loss, Florida fell from the latest top-25 poll.
Florida won its only previous meeting with American by a 76-33 final at home in December of 2000.
Vlad Moldoveanu has only played three games for American, as he had to sit out the entire fall semester because of NCAA transfer regulations. Since entering the lineup, he is scoring 19.0 ppg as the team's go-to guy at the offensive end. Stephen Lumpkins is the only other double-digit scorer in the lineup (11.5 ppg), and he leads the Patriot League in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and blocked shots (1.9 bpg). Generating offense has proven to be problematic this season for AU, which is scoring a modest 58.2 ppg on 40.1 percent shooting from the field, and it doesn't help matters that the club is committing 15 turnovers per tilt. Defensively, the team is permitting 66.2 ppg. In the lopsided loss to Penn State last week, Moldoveanu and Nick Hendra scored 17 points apiece for the Eagles, who allowed the Nittany Lions to shoot 54.9 percent from the field.
Through 11 games this season, Florida is scoring 72.5 ppg while allowing 61.0 ppg to opponents on 40.1 percent shooting from the field. The Gators boast a balanced offensive attack that features five double-digit scorers, and Kenny Boynton leads the club with 13.7 ppg despite his horrendous 36.5 percent shooting from the floor. Chandler Parsons is netting 11.5 ppg to go along with 6.5 rpg, and Erving Walker provides 11.4 ppg and 4.6 apg. Alex Tyus is generating 10.6 ppg and 6.1 rpg, and Vernon Macklin brings 10.2 ppg to the mix. The Gators connected on only 36.8 percent of their field goal attempts against South Alabama last Tuesday, and the score wouldn't have been so close if not for a 21-10 edge in points from the foul line. Tyus scored 16 points to lead the way in defeat.
Florida will halt its winning streak by beating up on lowly American tonight. Still, the win won't prove anything for a team that could be exposed in SEC play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 81, American University 56
12/28 12:48:05 ET