Two Burning Questions: Previewing Kansas vs. Florida

Posted by Brian Goodman & David Changas on December 5th, 2014

The Big 12/SEC Challenge will wrap up tonight at 9:00 ET as Kansas looks to exact revenge for a loss in Gainesville last year. Meanwhile, the Gators are in need of a signature non-conference win, and what better venue to get that win than in a raucous Allen Fieldhouse? RTC contributors Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman) and David Changas (@dchangas) are here to break down a tilt between two of the millennium’s best programs.

BG: The Jayhawks may finally have their answer at point guard after Frank Mason enjoyed a very successful Orlando Classic as freshman Devonte’ Graham continued to heal from a shoulder injury. The sophomore posted averages of 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game last week and has been the primary reason why Kansas has regained its footing despite Graham’s troubles, Wayne Selden‘s shooting slump, and Kelly Oubre‘s failure to find his way onto the court for more than a few minutes a night. In the other backcourt, Kasey Hill has come up big for a Florida team that has otherwise struggled out of the gate. How important is this match-up to the outcome of the game and how do you see it turning out?

Another steady game from Frank Mason would lend an added sense of security for a Kansas team that has occasionally struggled to find consistency in its backcourt. (AP)

Another steady game from Frank Mason would lend an added sense of security for a Kansas team that has occasionally struggled to find consistency in its backcourt. (AP)

DC: Mason was absolutely terrific in Orlando, and Kansas looked nothing like the team that Kentucky embarrassed two and a half weeks ago. On the other hand, Florida came away from the Battle 4 Atlantis with two losses and a mediocre win over UAB to show for it. Thus far, the Gators have a long way to go to become a good offensive team, shooting a highly inefficient 44.1 percent in effective field goal rate. With Eli Carter injured and likely to miss this game, Hill, who has finally begun to look more comfortable in his role as the team’s primary ball-handler, will need to have a big night for Florida. He showed some signs of offensive life with 20 points in Sunday’s loss to North Carolina, shooting the ball well and getting to the line 12 times (making 10) against the Tar Heels. If he can do the same against Mason while simultaneously taking care of the ball, Florida will have a chance at pulling off the big upset.

BG: Perry Ellis is off to a fast start, playing like the All-American Kansas needs him to be in order to make a deep run in March. Much like Mason, Ellis too had a fantastic week in Orlando. He showcased his scoring ability, something most college basketball fans are used to seeing, but he also conveyed a newfound sense of toughness, averaging nine rebounds per game against Santa Clara, Tennessee and Michigan State. To boot, Allen Fieldhouse will be rocking, as it’s been a week and a half since the Jayhawks last played a home game. With four guys who average at least 5.0 rebounds per game, the Gators appear to have enough bodies to contain Ellis as well as Cliff Alexander. Of everyone in Florida’s frontcourt rotation, who do you think will play the biggest role in such an important game?

DC: One of these days, it would be nice for Chris Walker to step up and be that guy for Billy Donovan, but it does not appear he is ready to take that step and it is unrealistic to think he will break out in such a hostile environment. Jon Horford has exceeded Donovan’s expectations, as he leads the team in rebounding and blocks and is second in scoring. Other than Horford and Dorian Finney-Smith, the Gators have no other reliable options in the frontcourt, and it is likely that Kansas will be able to take advantage of the match-up. Ellis played like a man possessed in Orlando, and looks like he is turning into the player many thought he could be when he signed with the program. If Horford can work to keep him in check, and if Florida slows the others (some of whom have slowed themselves), that could bode well for the opportunity for a Gators upset.

Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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