The No. 12 Florida Gators held off the Richmond Spiders 67-58 in their final non-conference game of the season. The Gators were aided by senior preseason first team All-SEC selection Patric Young’s best game of the season. Richmond star Cedrick Lindsay had an outstanding game with 19 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Young’s 15 points and Michael Frazier II’s 18 points.
The win against the Spiders brings the Gators record to 11-2 entering SEC play, with huge wins over the Kansas Jayhawks and Memphis Tigers. Their two losses were to the now undefeated No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers, who were at home, and No. 17 Connecticut Huskies, who won behind a Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater. Their impressive, yet disappointing non-conference record will give them confidence going into conference play.
Florida may be the current favorites to win the SEC, but their competition is going to be fierce. The Kentucky Wildcats and Missouri Tigers are going to give them all they can handle at the top of the conference. Don’t forget about the Tennessee Volunteers, either. The Vols have strung together an impressive three-game winning streak and are undefeated against Billy Donovan and the Gators under Cuonzo Martin. Along with those three teams, the Arkansas Razorbacks, Ole Miss Rebels and Alabama Crimson Tide aren’t going to be pushovers.
However, the Gators have proven themselves time and time again during the non-conference portion of their schedule. Winning difficult games will be nothing new to them, even if it is week-in and week-out. Expect the Gators to finish first or second in the SEC – third, at worst.