SEC College Basketball Handicapping: #3 Florida Gators at Mississippi State Bulldogs

#3 Florida Gators at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Humphrey Coliseum – Starkville, Mississippi

Thursday, January 30, 2014, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Florida -13 1/2
Current Line: Florida -14
Opening Total: 130
Current Total: 131
Opening Money Line: Florida -1300 / MSU +810
Current Money Line: Florida -1300 / MSU +810

Florida is a 14 point favorite at Mississippi State Thursday.
Florida is a 14 point favorite at Mississippi State Thursday.

The 17-2 Florida Gators are one of the hottest teams in the country having won 11 straight games. The Gators are 6-0 in the SEC and every other team has at least two conference losses. Florida travels to the 13-6 Mississippi State Bulldogs Thursday night. The Bulldogs are 3-3 in conference and tied with Alabama for eighth.

Florida leads the series against Mississippi State 60-49. The Gators have won three straight games against the Bulldogs including 83-58 in the only meeting last year in Starkville. This is also the only scheduled meeting this season between the teams.

Florida is coached by Billy Donovan. The Gators have road losses at Wisconsin and Connecticut. Florida has key wins over Middle Tennessee, Florida State, Kansas, Memphis in Madison Square Garden, Fresno State in Miami, Richmond, South Carolina, at Arkansas, Georgia, at Auburn, at Alabama, and Saturday versus Tennessee 67-41. Florida is 8-6-1 ATS and the total is 4-10-1.

Florida is outscoring teams 72-59 this season. The Gators are #8 nationally in points allowed. Florida is shooting 46.3% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. The Gators make 66.7% of their free throws. Gator opponents are shooting 38.8% from the field and 33.3% from 3 point range. Florida is #21 in field goal defense nationally. The Gators average 36.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.4 per game. Florida is #44 in rebounds allowed nationally. The Gators average 12.6 assists, 11.6 turnovers, 7.2 steals and 2.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.6 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 5.6 steals, and 3.1 blocks per game.

Forward Casey Prather averages 16.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Guard Scottie Wilbekin averages 12.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Guard Michael Frazier II averages 12.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, an assist, and a steal per game. Center Patric Young averages 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, a steal, and 0.8 blocks per game to lead the team. Forward Dorian Finney-Smith averages 10.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Guard Kasey Hill averages 6.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Will Yeguete averages 5.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. DeVon Walker and Jacob Kurtz will also get time in the rotation. Forward Chris Walker is probable to make his season debut after being ineligible for the first 19 games. Guard Dillon Graham is out for the season with a hip injury.

Mississippi State is coached by Rick Ray. The Bulldogs have losses at Utah State, against TCU, UNLV in a tournament in Las Vegas, at Kentucky, at Alabama, and Saturday at Ole Miss 82-63. The Ole Miss loss snapped a two game winning streak for the Bulldogs. MSU has key wins over Loyola-Illinois, Florida Gulf Coast, South Florida in Las Vegas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Auburn.The Bulldogs are 4-7 ATS and the total is 8-3 this season.

Mississippi State is outscoring teams 71-69 this season. The Bulldogs are shooting 45.4% from the field and 30.9% from 3 point range. MSU is #310 out of 351 teams nationally in three point shooting. The Bulldogs are #312 in free throw shooting at 65.3% from the line. MSU opponents are shooting 43.8% from the field and 32.1% from 3 point range. The Bulldogs average 33.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 32.5 per game. MSU averages 13.2 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 8.8 steals and 3 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.1 assists, 15.6 turnovers, 5.6 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.

Guard Craig Sword averages 13.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Forward Gavin Ware averages 11 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Forward Colin Borchert 10.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. Forward Roquez Johnson averages 10 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Guard Fred Thomas averages 8.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard I.J. Ready averages 6.4 points, 1.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Trivante Bloodman and Andre Applewhite will also get some time in the rotation.

Florida is 5-0 ATS in Thursday games, 4-1 after a straight up win, overall and against SEC teams, 3-7 against teams with winning home records, and 1-6 after a straight up win of more than 20 points.

Mississippi State is 4-0 ATS after a straight up loss, at home, and 1-4 in Thursday games. The home team is 5-2 ATS in this series recently. The Bulldogs are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 against the Gators, including 5-1 in Starkville.

Mississippi State has been inconsistent this season. Florida already has three road wins in the SEC but all were by six points or less. Humphrey Coliseum is a tough place to play for opponents, but I still think Florida wins their 12th straight game in a close game.

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