Welcome to the Hoops Dawgs Report. It’s like the 1969 classic with Paul Newman “Winning”! Cause that’s all our Hoop Dawgs do in conference play this year. At 2-0 the Dawgs sit in a four-way tie for first and a match-up with one of those teams tonight. That’s right, it’s that sweaty little freak and his band of McDonald All-Americans in Gainesville, a place that’s not been real kind to us over the years. I believe the last time we won down there was 2001.
Many of you well remember Fred Gibson sinking four free throws in the final minute and Gator Chomping at the line. A move that did not go over too well down there as Udonis Haslem fouled him into the first row. You know one weird thing about Billy Donovan is his shirt’s aren’t covered in armpit perspiration any more. I am assuming he had that sweat gland surgery. Surgery or not though, Little Eddie Munster can coach and recruit like nobody’s business and our record against him in the O’Connell Center reads like a house of horrors. However, before we discuss the Gators, lets take a look back at how we got to 2-0 in conference.
The Dawgs beat Alabama 66-58 on Saturday in what was one of the weirdest games you will ever see. The reason it was so weird is the Dawgs only made three baskets in the second half and none in the last 13 minutes. Yet, still won by eight because we went to the free throw line 44 times, 34 in the second half I believe. I’m sure something like that has happened before, but I wasn’t there to witness or read about it. Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann led the way scoring 22 each. Gaines was red hot in the first half scoring 16 in the first 20 minutes. The Dawgs only made 15 baskets the entire game and Gaines scored seven of them. Marcus Thornton added nine points but no one else had more than five. We out rebounded them 41-32 and now are 8-0 when we win the rebound battle.
I had several people calling and texting me after the game complaining about how ugly it was. I’m not complaining. Personally, I’m ecstatic! Mark Fox not only won a lot of ugly games last year but he also put us in a position to win a lot more. We were 9-9 in conference and four games were decided in overtime or by five points or less. With any luck we could’ve been 13-5. So let’s not try to put any lipstick on this pig, let’s just keep winning.
We averaged 58 a game in SEC play last year. You don’t have to win pretty, you just have to win. Neither Alabama nor Missouri played their best against us, but tonight things will be a lot different.
The Gators are 13-2 and No. 7 in the land. They survived an overtime scare on Saturday in Arkansas. Just as the Dawgs ended the longest home win streak at 26 in the nation on Wednesday night, the Gators ended Arkansas’ home win streak at 24, which was third in the nation. The Dawgs have been throttled, and overwhelmed in Gainesville recently. We lost by 33 down there last year and by 22 the year before. They make a habit of pressing the heck out of us and we have consistently turned it over. Plus, I been there and the crowd is on top of you and they’re real loud.
While we don’t match up well against them, there’s always a chance. If we could some how, some way win the turnover battle and shoot well from the floor, who knows what will happen. I know our chances aren’t good especially in a shootout, so let’s make it ugly. Florida can score with the best of them, we can’t. When we try, we usually lose. I personally think if we can keep them in the 60s, we’ve got a legitimate shot. If they score in the 70s or 80s, then odds are it’s a loss for the Dawgs.
So let’s sit back and watch two of the teams tied for first in the SEC fight it out for a first round bye in the SEC Tourney. Too early to talk that way? Maybe! But how many other times do we get to talk this way? So please forgive the question if offended. I’m ready for some more Hoop Dawgs action and I hope you are too. Go Dawgs!