Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators Shoot for a Perfect Month; Florida Determined to Extend Win Streak to Nine against Gamecocks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators Shoot for a Perfect Month; Florida Determined to Extend Win Streak to Nine against Gamecocks

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

GAINESVILLE | The first month of 2013 has been an excellent one for Florida.

The fourth-ranked Gators (16-2, 6-0) can wrap up a perfect January with a victory against visiting South Carolina (12-7, 2-4) in Southeastern Conference play Wednesday night. UF has won eight consecutive games, its longest streak in three years.

None of the eight games has been dramatic. Florida has won all of them by at least 17 points. In SEC play, the Gators are outscoring teams by an average of 26.5 points per contest.

Florida is third in the nation in scoring defense at 51.2 points a game, but also has an offense that is ninth in the country in field-goal percentage (49.3).

First-year South Carolina coach Frank Martin says breaking down UF's game film isn't a fun chore.

"It's depressing," said Martin, a Miami native who led Kansas State to the NCAA Tournament four times in his five years with the Wildcats.

"What makes them even better defensively is that on offense, they don't turn it over and they take good shots. That allows your defense to get set. They are a handful to deal with."

Florida's recent dominance over its foes has largely occurred away from Gainesville. UF has only played three home games in the previous 61 days (Nov. 30-Jan.29).

"It's tough being on a plane and being 6-9," said Florida junior center Patric Young, a former Providence School standout.

Young won't have many plane trips over the next couple of weeks as Florida plays four of its next five games at home.

"It's been a long stretch," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "But just because we're home doesn't mean that we can relax right now."

South Carolina has seemingly started to jell under Martin. The Gamecocks beat Arkansas 75-54 last Saturday. South Carolina's four SEC losses have been by an average of 4.5 points a game.

"Their team is going through a transition with a new coach," Donovan said. "But when you watch them on film, it is clear those kids have bought into playing the way Frank wants them to play."

South Carolina is also getting guard Bruce Ellington back in his rhythm. The junior missed the first nine games while playing football for the Gamecocks. …

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