Florida looks to put clamps on South Carolina

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Florida will try to continue its high-level defensive play when it hosts South Carolina in Southeastern Conference action Wednesday night in Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators (11-8, 4-3) have won four of their last five games and are coming off a 61-59 win at Mississippi State on Saturday night. During that five-game stretch, Florida held three of five opponents under 60 points and allowed an average of 61.6 points per game.

“We have become a very good half-court defensive team,” Gators coach Todd Golden said. “I think it’s understanding what’s important to us, we’ve been able to form more of an identity and we’ve been pretty exceptional defensively so I’m hopeful we can keep it up.”

Florida could be without starting power forward Alex Fudge, who is doubtful for the game after suffering a head injury that sidelined him for the second half against Mississippi State. If Fudge can’t go, Florida will likely start four guards around center Colin Castleton, who leads the SEC in blocked shots with 3.1 per game.

“It’s going to be hard for (Fudge) to be ready,” Golden said. “We’re just going to have to continue to have those guys step up and be as assertive as they have been, especially since conference play started.”

South Carolina (8-11, 1-5) has dropped three straight, all at home, since beating Kentucky 71-68 on Jan. 10 at Rupp Arena. The Gamecocks have struggled offensively during the three-game skid, averaging just 59 points in that span.

“We haven’t done things consistently,” coach Lamont Paris said. “We’ll have small stretches in some games, a decent amount of stretches in other games, and then no stretches in some games of doing the things we want to do.”

Freshman forward Gregory “GG” Jackson II scored a career-high 30 points for South Carolina in its last outing, an 81-66 loss to then-No. 16 Auburn on Saturday.

It was the first 30-point game for a Gamecocks freshman since Bruce Ellington in 2010. Jackson leads the team in scoring (15.9) and rebounding (6.7).

“Our overall energy level goes as his does,” Paris said of Jackson. “That’s just who he is. He’s a dynamic person, a dynamic personality.”

–Field Level Media

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