College Basketball Predictions: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Florida Gators

South Carolina Gamecocks at No. 11 Florida Gators
Thursday, 2/2/12, 9:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Florida -15
Current Betting Line:  Florida -14.5
Opening Total:  137
Current Total:  134.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Florida Gators will look to remain perfect in Gainesville when hosting the South Carolina Gamecocks Thursday night

South Carolina has lost five of its last six games that includes a 66-62 defeat to the Mississippi Rebels as five-point road underdogs Saturday.  The Gamecocks have out-rebounded 12 of 20 opponents this season, ranking 11th in the nation and leading the Southeastern Conference with a +7.8 rebounding margin this season.  “Strangely enough, this is a team that continues to build confidence in practice,” commented Gamecocks head coach Darrin Horn.  South Carolina is 16-24 ATS versus conference opponents the last two-plus years.

The Gamecocks are led offensively by senior forward Malik Cooke and sophomore guard Bruce Ellington, who are averaging 12.7 and 10.8 points respectively this season.    South Carolina is 22-38 all-time in this series, including a 7-17 mark in games played in Gainesville.  The program captured a 72-69 win on this floor as 11.5-point underdogs on Jan. 15, 2011, but has dropped the last two meetings, including a 79-65 decision as seven-point home underdogs on Jan. 14 of this year.

Florida is set to face its first repeat opponent of the 2011-12 campaign and will look to extend its five-game win streak.  The Gators are coming off an impressive 69-57 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs as 8.5-point home favorites, while their last two contests have fallen “under” the total.  “People say that we’re a guard-oriented team,” commented Gators forward Patric Young.  “I think our team is balanced.”  The team has five players on its roster averaging double figures in points, with guard Kenny Boynton leading the way in scoring 17.2 points per game.  Florida is 3-1 ATS as a home favorite of 12.5 or more points this season.

The Gators have won nine of the last 12 meetings in this series and eight of the last nine have been decided by a single-digit margin.  Florida earned a 79-65 win in the first meeting in South Carolina, as six players scored in double figures.  The team really opened up the game after the break, reeling off an 18-3 run to start the second half.  Florida is 11-0 inside the O’Connell Center this year and has posted wins in 17 straight games overall.

Bettors will likely back the Gamecocks due to their 8-0 ATS mark in Gainesville, while the Gators are 2-8-1 ATS as a home favorite of 13 or more points.

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