Florida point guard Chris Chiozza has been posting career numbers all season. He’s scoring, rebounding and assisting at his highest rate since he stepped foot in Gainesville four years ago. The Gators men's basketball team has needed all of it in a topsy-turvy 2018 campaign.
Chiozza struggled as of late though, managing four points in an 18-point loss to Alabama on Saturday and three in Wednesday’s 73-64 win over LSU.
After three straight conference losses, senior guard Chris Chiozza — leader of the reeling F…
UF coach Mike White has faith in Chiozza, saying he thinks the senior is due for a breakout, hopefully in Saturday’s noon game at South Carolina (13-11, 4-7 SEC).
“(Chiozza has) been so good all year and law of averages kicks in,” White said. “Surely, he’ll be good in Columbia and we’ll be OK.”
After handing Florida a 77-72 loss when the teams first met on Jan. 24 in Gainesville, the Gamecocks have dropped games against then-No. 14 Texas Tech, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Arkansas.
One thing all four of South Carolina’s recent defeats have in common is strong guard play from its opponents, something White may find encouraging in light of Chiozza’s recent struggles.
Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans accounted for roughly half of the Red Raiders' total offensive output, finishing with 31 points and three assists as the Gamecocks fell 70-63.
Mississippi State guards Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon combined for 35 points and six assists in an 81-76 win over South Carolina.
The Aggies took down the Gamecocks 83-60 with a more balanced approach, led by junior guard Admon Gilder's 15 points and three steals.
Then on Tuesday, Razorbacks guards Daryl Macon (25 points) and Jaylen Barford (24 points) helped pace Arkansas to an 81-65 victory.
This could also bode well for Florida guards Jalen Hudson, Egor Koulechov and KeVaughn Allen.
Hudson and Koulechov are first and second on the team in scoring, respectively, while Koulechov’s 6.9 rebounds per game leads the Gators and is tied for ninth in the SEC.
Allen’s play has been up-and-down during his junior season, but he remains a threat to lead all players in scoring on any given night. Against a Gamecocks defense that gives up just 68 points per game, a big performance from Allen could be a key to success.
Another area of focus for Florida will be South Carolina forward Chris Silva, who had a double-double in the first meeting with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Koulechov, who spends large portions of games at the power forward spot due to frontcourt injuries, said he looks forward to matching up with Silva.
“It’s always fun,” Koulechov said. “We’ll have a good game plan. I’ll do whatever I gotta do. Coaches are always gonna put us in great positions and it’s up to us to execute.”