In its final road game of the season, Florida will head to Columbia, Missouri, to take on the Tigers.
The Gators will seek revenge after losing a nail-biter to Missouri less than a month ago. Following two home losses earlier this week, Florida will play without star guard Lavender Briggs for the third straight game.
In Florida’s loss to Mizzou, Briggs scored a team-high 19 points and collected 11 rebounds, marking her third double-double of the season. The remaining Gators failed to score 40 points after shooting under 30% from the floor as a team.
In Briggs’ absence, Florida has leaned on guards Nina Rickards and Danielly Rainey. In Monday’s loss to No. 17 Kentucky, Rickards notched a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Rainey splashed six threes en route to a career-high 20 points.
Florida’s bench has risen to the occasion, too. Forward Faith Dut and guard Brynn Farrell, who average a combined 8.9 points per game, dropped 18 points in Thursday’s loss to Alabama.
But star Florida guard Kiara Smith remains the new focal point of the Gators’ offense. Since Briggs’ departure, Smith has scored 50 points while missing only two minutes of action.
Since playing UF, Missouri is 1-4 with all four losses coming against ranked opponents. The Tigers sit half a game behind Florida with a 3-8 conference record. Mizzou is 4-6 at home, while the Gators are 3-5 on the road.
Missouri’s top-two scorers, forward Ladazhia Williams and guard Aijha Blackwell, carried the Tigers to victory in their first matchup against the Gators. The duo scored 30 points and grabbed 24 of the team’s 47 boards. Williams’ 59.6% field-goal percentage and 11.1 rebounding average rank top-three in the SEC.
Florida needs to continue to stay hot from beyond the arc. The Gators lead the SEC in three-point percentage, shooting nearly 43% as a team. Although not as efficient from three-point range, Missouri shoots extremely well from the floor. The Tigers’ 58.5% field-goal percentage ranks third in the conference, only behind No. 22 Georgia and No. 2 South Carolina.
As the second-worst free-throw shooting team in the SEC, Missouri will need to knock down foul shots late in the game to hold off Florida. While both teams are strong on the glass, the Gators will rely on taking care of the basketball and generating turnovers as their positive turnover margin overshadows Missouri’s -3.2 turnover margin.
Tip-off at Mizzou Arena is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will air on SEC Network.
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.