Xavier vs UF, 5:30 p.m., O'Connell Center
Last Time Out:
Xavier lost 66-60 to an Ohio Legends team in an exhibition Nov. 2
UF won 102-68 against NAIA Division II Warner Southern in an exhibition on Nov. 1
Nov. 12, 2006: Xavier won 86-70 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Why Xavier Might Win:
Despite losing four starters from last year's NCAA Tournament team, the Musketeers still return 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Amber Harris. In just her first college game last year, Harris went for 15 points and eight rebounds against the Gators. 6-foot-6 highly-recruited Ta'Shia Phillips will complement Harris down low.
Why UF Might Win:
The team really seems to be buying into the concept of the up-tempo style of play Coach Amanda Butler wants to use. 6-foot-3 junior transfer Aneika Henry will certainly help out down low against Harris and Phillips. Dotson played against taller defenders without help for most of last season, so don't expect her to be intimidated and she stressed that fact to me before practice this week. Butler said Harris is very athletic but she will have to commit herself to running up and down the floor to keep up with the Gators.
This will be an important game to gauge just how good the Gators will be this season. While no one expects an overnight rebuilding process, a win here would certainly give the team some confidence as well as backing up the optimism Butler's been filled with during the preseason. Pace of the game will play an important role in determining the victor. If the Musketeers can slow things down and dump it into the post, I'm not sure the Gators are ready to stop that, no matter what defensive wrinkles Butler has up her sleeve. On the contrary, if UF can keep things fast, pressure the ball and not make too many mistakes, it might have the edge.