January 23, 2014 at 2:42 PM #53122
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
The sixth-ranked Florida Gators will look to improve to 5-0 in the SEC and win their 10th game in a row on Thursday night when they make the trip out to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Gators enter having won 14 of their last 15 games, while the Tide have won three in a row at Coleman Coliseum.
6 Florida Gators (15-2) at Alabama Crimson Tide (8-9)
Date: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM ET
Venue: Coleman Coliseum
City: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Spread: Florida -5.5
As good as Florida has been this season, they’re just 3-2 in true road games on the year. However, the team has greatly improved their success rate in close games. A year ago, Florida went 0-6 in games decided by less than 10 points, and 0-4 in games decided by five points or less. This season, the Gators have flipped the script. The team is 7-2 in games decided by fewer than 10 points and 3-1 in games decided by two points or less this season.
Overall, the Gators have won 14 of its last 15 games, with the lone loss coming on a buzzer-beater by Shabazz Napier and then-No. 12 Connecticut. They’ll be searching for their 15th win in their last 16 games in this one. Florida has won each of its last seven meetings with Alabama, though they may need to call on their experience in close games, as only one of those seven wins came by more than a dozen points, and two came by three points or less. In last season’s meetings, Alabama held a second half lead each time.
As for Alabama, they’ve lost 14 in a row against ranked opponents., though they’ve kept competitive in two games versus ranked opponents this season, losing to then-No. 6 Duke 74-64, and then-No. 11 Wichita State 72-67. The team’s last game wasn’t nearly as competitive, as the team was blown out by Missouri, 68-47 on Saturday. The Tide shot a season-low 29.2 percent in that one, with leading scorer Trevor Releford hitting on just 4 of 16 shots from the field, matching a season-low 10 points. The Tide have alternated wins and losses in their SEC schedule, which could mean they’ll make some noise on this night.
The Tide will be in tough in this one as Florida got back its leading scorer, Casey Prather, in their last game and he scored a team-high 21 in Florida’s 68-61 win over Auburn on Saturday.
Alabama’s held their own against some top teams this season, but Florida is simply in another class than the Tide, making it tough to imagine Alabama keeping this one close. With Prather back in the lineup and scoring at a high rate, the Gators should be able to build up enough of a margin to come away on the right end of this one.
The Gators are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight road games, but 5-1 ATS in their last six trips to Tuscaloosa.
The play: Florida -5.5
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