Heading into its final eight games of the season, Florida sits 12th in the SEC standings after an uninspiring 1-5 start.
However, four of Florida’s opponents were ranked, including a three-game opening stretch versus top-15 opponents.
The Gators opened up their conference schedule against No. 5 South Carolina on Dec. 31 after Florida’s game against Vanderbilt was postponed due to COVID-19. The Gators lost to the Gamecocks by 16 points — despite 23 points from star guard Lavender Briggs.
Florida then returned home for games against No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 14 Mississippi State, in which the Gators lost by a combined score of 160-123. Briggs scored 41 points in the two contests, and sophomore guard Nina Rickards recorded her first career double-double.
UF continued its losing streak via narrow road losses to unranked Georgia and No. 17 Arkansas. Briggs’ career-high 41 points in Fayetteville wasn’t enough to overcome Arkansas’ 84-point performance.
Following a five-game losing skid to open SEC play, the Gators found their first conference win of the season last Sunday against Auburn at the O’Connell Center. Briggs and senior guard Kiara Smith’s combined 40-point effort lifted the Gators to a double-digit victory.
Through six conference games, Florida averages 64.7 points per game. As a team, the Gators are shooting 39.4% from the field, 28.6% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the charity stripe in conference play.
Since the beginning of SEC action, Florida has struggled immensely in the turnover battle, racking up 91 turnovers over the course of only six games. After compiling a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (1.03) in non-conference play, the Gators have recorded nearly double the number of turnovers as assists since (0.56 assist-to-turnover ratio).
Defensively, Florida is giving up 73.5 points per conference game after allowing under 60 points per game in non-conference play. The Gators allow SEC opponents to shoot 42% from the field and just under 33% from three.
After a dominant start to the season on the boards where the Gators held a positive 1.23 rebound margin, Florida has been outrebounded by five boards per game by conference opponents since.
Florida’s backcourt has played tremendously so far this season. Briggs ranks fifth in the SEC, scoring an average of 19.6 points per game. The sophomore guard handles the pressure of playing in the SEC with ease as she averages 23.2 points per conference game.
Through the first six conference games, Briggs and Rickards are shooting lights out from deep, connecting on a combined 42.2% from three-point range. Rickards’ 41.5% season three-point percentage ranks top 10 in the SEC.
Smith’s 2.4 steals per game ranks fourth in the conference and her 3.8 assists per game rank top 10 in the SEC.
In its remaining eight-game conference schedule, Florida will face only three more ranked opponents. After playing Ole Miss on the road Sunday, the Gators will return home to take on the Missouri Tigers. The three ranked opponents on Florida’s remaining schedule are No. 25 Tennessee on Jan. 31, No. 12 Kentucky on Feb. 15 and No. 22 Georgia on Feb. 28.
Contact Griffin Foll at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GriffinFoll
Griffin Foll is a sophomore at UF studying journalism sports and media. He is one of The Alligator's women’s basketball beat writers. Griffin is also a UF softball beat reporter for ChompTalk.com and contributes weekly articles for ESPN Gainesville.