Sunrise, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The 16th-ranked Florida Gators make the short trip to Sunrise to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday afternoon at the BB&T Center.
Billy Donovan's Gators completed a three-game gauntlet against ranked opponents Connecticut, Kansas and Memphis. After dropping the opener of that set by just a single point (65-64), Florida rebounded in a big way with wins over both the Jayhawks (67-61) and most recently, the Tigers (77-75). With the win over Memphis, Florida improved to 8-2 on the season.
Rodney Terry's Bulldogs are simply treading water with a 6-5 overall record. Five of those wins have come at home, but the road has not been kind with just one win in five games outside of the SaveMart Center. The team has dropped each of its last two games, with road losses at Utah (99-70) and at California (67-56).
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.
The Bulldogs suffered through one of their worst offensive performances of the season in the recent loss to the Golden Bears. Fresno State shot an ugly 32.8 percent from the field overall, including a mere 4-of-16 from behind the arc, while getting outrebounded 47-34. Despite the lack of scoring, three Bulldogs did finish in double figures, led by Marvelle Harris' 13 points. Fellow guards Tyler Johnson and Cezar Guerrero chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Fresno State has been far more productive on the year offensively, averaging a steady 76.2 ppg, on a healthy .462 shooting. Harris leads five Bulldogs in double figures with 17.9 ppg. Guerrero is next in line at 14.4 ppg and is the team's top distributor (4.4 apg). Johnson has played in seven games this season, but is another top-notch scoring option at 14.0 ppg. Paul Watson (11.76 pg) and Allen Huddleston (10.4 ppg) round out the top offensive threats on the roster.
The Gators also possess great balance in their offensive attack. The team is averaging 72.3 ppg on .461 shooting, with five players also averaging double figures. Casey Prather leads the team in the frontcourt, shooting 61.3 percent overall and averaging 18.7 ppg. He gets help from players Dorian Finney-Smith (11.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Patric Young (10.2 ppg) up front. Backcourt balance comes in the form of Scottie Wilbekin (12.6 ppg) and Michael Frazier II (12.2 ppg).
Prather once again led the way to victory for Florida, as the Gators slipped past Memphis at Madison Square Garden this week. Prather was 8-of-13 from the floor and finished with a game-high 22 points. Finney-Smith came off the bench to add 14 points, while Wilbekin and Frazier posted 11 points apiece. The Gators did turn the ball over 17 times, but held a 37-26 edge in rebounding and shot 51.9 percent from the floor overall.