Coast 2 Coast Hoops
Consider for a moment that through their 7-0 start to the season, #5 Florida has trailed their opponents for just six of 280 total minutes.
So it should be obvious why Arizona can’t fall prey to a slow start against the Gators on Saturday. Arizona’s best chance of taking Florida out of its comfort zone is by forcing the Gators to play a tight game, something they haven’t had to do this year. But if the Wildcats come out of the gates sluggish, Billy Donovan’s team will be on familiar and favorable ground.
Florida’s pressure defense has been a ubiquitous mention across game previews, but it’ll be more about how Arizona handles the Gator defense than any tactics they employ. If the Wildcats force errant passes like they did against Southern Miss and Clemson, Florida is designed to take advantage. But if Arizona takes care of the ball and breaks the press, they’ll take away a significant portion of Florida’s offense and will likely keep the Gators from developing the leads they have become accustomed to playing with.
Florida is more than a one trick gator, though, they press but also hold opponents to 48.3 points on 34.9% shooting. But again, it’ll be more about how Arizona executes their offense than what Florida does on defense. If the three pointers are falling and the Cats are feeding the post early and often, even an elite defense like Florida’s will struggle. Arizona’s offense is on an entirely different level than anything the Gators have seen this year, and if they’re clicking it could be bad news for Florida’s much lauded defense.
Though Arizona may open as underdogs, don’t believe the national buzz about this game. Arizona is as good or better than Florida, and moreover the Wildcats are the team that will control the outcome of the game. If we see the sloppy Arizona that fell behind in the past two games, it could be a long day in Tucson. But if we see the razor sharp, balanced Arizona that was crushing opponents through the first month of the season, Wildcat fans will be eagerly awaiting the next AP and coaches poll. Ultimately, it will be a matter of whether the Wildcats step up to the occasion.