Florida Gators: 19-15, 9-9 in the Southeastern Conference
Head coach: Mike White (4th season)
Players to watch: KeVaughn Allen (12.0 PPG); Noah Locke (9.6 PPG, 38.2 3PT%); Kevarrius Hayes (8.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.9 BPG)
Season recap: The Gators finished in eighth place in the SEC after a fairly inconsistent season featuring intermittent losses between several winning streaks. Florida struggled offensively, with no primary playmaker or scorer. Freshman guard Andrew Nembhard was the only player to average more than five assists per game, while only KeVaughn Allen eclipsed double-digit scoring nightly. The lack of individual scoring harmed the team’s offensive output, as the Gators scored less than 65 points 12 times this season and averaged just 68.3 points per game as a team.
Defensively, though, the team is impressive. Four players average at least one steal per contest, while senior center Kevarrius Hayes locks down the paint with 1.9 blocks per game. Florida holds its opponents to just 63.7 points per game.
The Gators advanced to the semifinals of the SEC tournament following a quarterfinal upset against top-seeded LSU off a game winning three from Nembhard that solidified their position in the tournament. They fell to Auburn 65-62 the next day, as a shooting foul on a 3-pointer in the closing seconds went inexplicably uncalled.
How they make a run: Florida’s defense does enough to derail a higher seed’s offensive game plan as it guts out a close, low-scoring victory.
How they falter: Teams take advantage of the Gators' offense, packing the paint to stop any inside scoring and running away with the game against a stagnant Florida squad.