Containing Missouri's guards a priority for Gators in tonighrt's SEC showdown
For Florida Gators fans, the major storyline of tonight's game against Missouri is the debut of freshman Chris Walker.
But for the Gators, tonight is mostly about containing the best guard trio in the SEC.
At stake in tonight's nationally-televised game (ESPN) is Florida's 27-game home winning streak -third longest in the nation.
And an unblemished SEC record.
But to keep both intact, Florida will need to contain Missouri’s starting guards, which are three of the SEC’s top 14 scorers: conference-leading scorer Jabari Brown (20.4), No. 6 Jordan Clarkson (18.9) and No. 14 Earnest Ross (14.2).
That trio has scored 71.3 percent of Missouri’s points this season (1,123 of 1,575). And they are all 6-foot-5.
“They have very, very big guards," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "That’s one of the reasons why I was saying you could play really good defense and a guy like Jabari Brown, with his size, or Ross, at his size, even Clarkson at the point guard spot is 6-4, 6-5. They have the ability to shoot over top of people even when you’re on them. I think that’s what makes them such a tough cover. On the perimeter, they’ve got very big, strong ,physical guards. I would say from an offensive perspective, there is not a trio in the country more talented and gifted than them. Then I think when you look at[Ryan] Rosburg up front and you look at [Johnathan] Williams, who is a freshman they have gotten great minutes out of, (Tony) Criswell is a veteran guy. You may look at their numbers and say those guys aren’t scoring a lot of points, but part of it is not that those guys aren’t good offensive players, it’s that those other three guys are so elite that it’s hard not to run stuff and give those three guys a look every time down the floor. But Williams and Criswell and Rosburg are capable scorers, so we’ve got to be mindful of them as well.”
Florida senior C Patric Young said it will take a team effort to be successful.
“The thing with perimeter defense or any defense for our team, one-on-one or whatever we might face, our whole team is out there defending these guys," Young said. "And we don’t just put it all on one guy. We won’t put it on just Scottie (Wilbekin), him being our best on-ball defender. It’s our team effort. And hopefully we can come out there as locked in and focused as we were against Texas A&M and just keep striving to improve and strive for greatness.”