On Saturday, Florida took down then-No. 9 West Virginia. Three days earlier, Arkansas beat then-No. 5 Texas A&M.
Now, the Gators and the Razorbacks are each trying to build on those wins to prove they weren’t flukes.
Florida hosts Arkansas in the O’Connell Center tonight at 7 as both teams return to Southeastern Conference play following this past weekend’s Big 12/SEC Challenge.
While the Gators (14-7, 5-3 SEC) defeated West Virginia, the Razorbacks (11-10, 4-4 SEC) beat Texas Tech in overtime on Saturday. Florida is 10-2 at home all-time against Arkansas, but the Razorbacks are playing surprisingly well this year despite their mediocre record.
"Arkansas is a very good program. They are a very good team," UF coach Mike White said on Monday. "In their last 10 games you talk about a team who beats Vandy, who beats Mississippi State … who had their way with Missouri on the road, at LSU they lose by two. Their only really average performance was Kentucky."
The Razorbacks possess three of the SEC’s top-10 scorers in Dusty Hannahs (17.0 points per game), Moses Kingsley (16.5) and Anthlon Bell (16.4). They are the only team with more than one player who ranks among the conference’s top-10 scorers. Senior guard Jabril Durham also leads the conference with 7.0 assists per game for Arkansas.
Kingsley, the junior forward, ranks third in the SEC in rebounds per game (9.4) and second in blocks (2.6). As a threat on both ends of the floor, Kingsley has the attention of the Gators, and Florida knows limiting his production will be a tough task in tonight’s game.
"I don’t think a lot of people expected (Arkansas) to be this good offensively," White said. "I think they’ve done a really good job with role definition and they’re playing through Moses a lot … they’ve been consistent offensively. I think it starts with Kingsley. He just draws attention."
Florida freshman KeVaughn Allen, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, will look to continue his hot scoring pace. Allen is averaging 18.4 points per game over the Gators’ last five games, and is shooting 57.7 percent from three-point range and 87.5 percent from the foul line over that span.
Florida will try to come out against Arkansas with the same intensity it did against West Virginia. Dorian Finney-Smith, who became the 51st Gator to reach 1,000 points on Saturday, said Florida must start treating every game like a big game.
"We tend to get up for big games against teams that are highly rated and highly talented," Finney-Smith said. "We just got to be more internally motivated, and that starts with maturing."
The Gators can’t afford to look past the Razorbacks and assume it will be easy going in the O’Dome tonight. Arkansas believes that it is a better team than its record indicates, and it will be out to prove that tonight against Florida.
"Whatever we have to do to prepare ourselves, for a really good team, a really capable team, a team that’s playing really well lately, playing their best basketball, that’s our order of business," White said. "I don’t care what these guys are ranked, a team that has been playing well of late in the SEC, we’re gonna have to play really well to beat these guys."