Top-ranked Gators to feast on Osprey
Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) – The nation’s top-ranked team will take the
court in Gainesville tonight in a non-league tilt against a grossly overmatched
North Florida team. North Florida welcomes back two starters from last
season’s squad that finished 6-22 overall and 3-17 in the Atlantic Sun
Conference. The Ospreys began their season on Friday against St. John’s as
part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, and the result of that game was a
74-53 defeat. The next day, the squad took on Loyola-Maryland in a slightly
more competitive contest, but a 65-50 loss was the outcome.
As for Florida, it has won 21 straight games against non-conference opponents
and is 37-4 in the month of November under Bill Donovan. The Gators opened the
season against Samford and easily posted a 79-54 victory. The defending
National Champions are the favorites to repeat this season, thanks to the
return of all five starters.
Tonight’s game marks the first-ever meeting between Florida and North Florida
in men’s hoops.
North Florida is led on the floor by point guard Chris Timberlake, as he is
coming off a season in which he tallied 10.2 ppg while also dishing out 3.6
apg. He is expected to get the ball to standout forward Rashad Williams, as he
is coming off a strong campaign that saw him average 15.6 ppg and 6.3 rpg.
Williams scored 18 points against St. John’s before being held to 10 points in
the second game against Loyola-Maryland. In that most recent tilt, North
Florida turned the ball over 20 times and suffered a 34-22 rebounding
disadvantage. Aaron Caruthers posted 10 points off the bench for the Ospreys
to tie Williams for the team high. The club’s 5-of-12 effort from the foul
line was embarrassing.
Florida’s Joakim Noah emerged as a star as last season progressed, and he
could have been a top NBA Draft pick after winning Final Four MVP honors. Noah
averaged 14.2 ppg and 7.1 rpg, numbers that could be much higher if he didn’t
play for such a balanced squad. All five starters averaged double figures in
2005-06, and more of the same is expected. In the season-opening win over
Samford, four of the five starters tallied double digits in the scoring
column. Corey Brewer tallied 19 points, while Al Horford and Taurean Green
netted 15 points apiece. As for Noah, he netted 11 points to go along with 15
rebounds, six assists and four blocks. The Gators connected on 58.5 percent of
their field goal attempts and turned the ball over just six times. A 38-25
rebounding advantage also helped the cause.
The Gators are absolutely loaded, as there is no reason to believe that the
team won’t be even better than it was last year. Tonight’s game will get out
of hand in a hurry.