If things fall into place, No. 7 Florida could face both No. 17 Gonzaga and top-ranked Duke as part of this week’s PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore. Before looking too far ahead, however, the Gators will open tournament play Thursday against Stanford, which is coming off a 96-72 loss to North Carolina.
After scoring over 100 points in back-to-back wins over Gardner-Webb and North Florida, the Gators shot 32.1 percent from the field and were just 3-of-18 from 3-point range in last Sunday’s 70-63 win over New Hampshire. Forward Egor Koulechov was named SEC Player of the Week after averaging 20.3 points per game and 8.3 rebounds in his first three games for the Gators, who are heading out on the road for the first time following the surprising test from New Hampshire. “We’ve got to get tougher,” coach Mike White told reporters. “Our attention to detail and our focus, especially defensively, has a ways to go. We were probably a little overly comfortable. So hopefully this will be good for us.” Florida boasts a deep lineup with eight players averaging at least 6.3 points, while Stanford could be shorthanded again if Dorian Pickens and Marcus Sheffield are unable to play due to foot injuries.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT FLORIDA (3-0): Swingman Jalen Hudson, a transfer from Virginia Tech, averages 18 points on 58.1 percent shooting after registering 26 points with seven rebounds in the win over New Hampshire. Senior point guard Chris Chiozza, considered one of the best passers in the country, recorded 12 points and six rebounds against the Wildcats but had zero assists for the first time in 63 games. The Gators’ strong frontcourt includes junior center Kevarrius Hayes and 6-foot-11 sophomore Gorjok Gak, who have combined for 12 blocks and will be tasked with containing Stanford big man Reid Travis.
ABOUT STANFORD (3-2): Travis averages 21.2 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Cardinal, who allowed guards Joel Berry II and Kenny Williams to score a combined 49 points in last Monday’s loss to North Carolina. Coach Jerod Haase started three freshmen against the Tar Heels, including guard Isaac White, who scored 20 points and is averaging 12.8 points on 46.7 percent shooting, including 13-of-28 from 3-point range. “He’s a gamer,” Travis told reporters. “I think people are getting put on notice this guy can play. I expect him to have more big games like that and we’re going to need it.”
1. The Gators last faced Stanford in 2002 and are winless in four all-time meetings against the Cardinal.
2. Stanford forward Michael Humphrey is averaging 12.2 points and a team-high 10.6 rebounds.
3. Florida center John Egbunu (torn ACL) hopes to return to action in January.
PREDICTION: Florida 94, Stanford 73