In a wild week of upsets and giant-killings, the South Carolina Gamecocks made their mark last Saturday by beating the Kentucky Wildcats at home. The Gamecock fans stormed the court, costing the school $25,000, but it created a wave of momentum for the matchup against the no. 1 Florida Gators on Tuesday night. A victory over the Gators would shock the world and likely elicit another court-rushing.
The fans will have to wait another year and the University’s checkbook caught a break, courtesy of Michael Frazier II‘s career night and the efficient Gator offense. After a slow start, Florida caught on fire in the second half to blow out the Gamecocks, 72-46. Frazier scorched the nets with 37 points on a school-record 11-for-18 from behind the arc. Frank Martin could only watch as his 2-3 zone was decimated by Florida’s halfcourt attack. This was the ninth road win in a row for Billy Donovan‘s squad and a nice show of strength right before the SEC tournament.
Frazier’s performance is just another notch in the belt for the best team in the land. The Gators are simply putting more distance between themselves and their closest SEC competition, Kentucky. Even with an ice-cold offensive game from the rest of the senior starters, the sophomore stepped to the plate to carry his team to victory. Donovan changed strategy at halftime to accommodate his hot-shooting guard, using Scottie Wilbekin to get the ball into the post and draw the Gamecock 2-3 zone in the paint. Once Frazier found his spot, it was all over but the crying.
This ability to adjust and stay strong against an inspired team shows that Florida is ready to make their run at the national title. The Gators can pound teams inside, strip the nets with hot shooting or simply attack with the press until opponents become flustered turnover machines.
Florida has accomplished this for 17-straight SEC games and tonight’s victory illustrated that there will be no letup. With these limitless options and the amount of intensity exhibited in Columbia, any team facing the Gators will need Lady Luck or Larry Bird to overcome them.