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South Carolina-Florida Preview

AP - Sports

Florida hasn't had a breakout performance by any one player during SEC play, but balanced scoring has worked just fine for the Gators.

The 12th-ranked Gators go for their sixth straight win when they look to stay undefeated at home in a matchup with South Carolina on Thursday night.

Florida is coming off a 69-57 victory over then-No. 18 Mississippi State on Saturday. Star freshman Bradley Beal scored 19 points and shot 6 of 9 while Erik Murphy added 14, hitting 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

The Gators (17-4, 5-1) had four players score in double figures after three had at least 10 points apiece in a 64-60 win over Mississippi last Thursday.

Florida, in second place in the conference, hasn't had a player score more than 19 points in a league contest.

"People say that we're a guard-oriented team," forward Patric Young told the Gators' official website. "I think our team is balanced. Whatever you take away, we're hopefully going to find something."

Young, who has come off the bench the last four games after spraining his ankle last month, has averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the previous two contests.

"Pat's a competitor," Beal said. "Coach is always pushing him to the extra limit and Pat's willing to accept that. It really shows in Pat. Pat just comes out and just tries to do whatever it takes to push us to the limit and get us all going."

Young was held to four points in 13 minutes of a 79-65 win over South Carolina on Jan. 14, but plenty of Gators helped pick of the slack. Six Florida players finished in double figures, with three scoring at least 14.

The Gators went 12 of 24 from beyond the arc, led by Kenny Boynton, who was 4 of 7.

"Any time somebody puts four shooters on the floor, it makes it really tough," Gamecocks coach Darrin Horn said after the loss.

Making things even more difficult for Horn's team, Florida has gone 11-0 at home this season to extend its win streak in Gainesville to 17.

South Carolina (9-11, 1-5) has lost five of six and has a tough week ahead, as it hosts No. 1 Kentucky this weekend.

The Gamecocks fell 66-62 at Mississippi on Saturday. Malik Cooke scored 17 points but missed a late free throw that could have tied the game. South Carolina was outrebounded 38-28.

Despite its struggles, the Gamecocks have made strides on defense, holding teams to 61.0 points and 45.3 percent shooting the last three games. They allowed 75.0 points and 56.6 percent shooting in the previous four.

"Strangely enough, this is a team that continues to build confidence in practice," Horn said. "We played like it Saturday against an Ole Miss team that is good at home. Our focus has got to be continuing to play that way, to put ourselves in position to try and have an opportunity to win one of these games."

For that to happen, the Gamecocks will need to give Cooke more help at the offensive end. He's averaging a team-best 12.7 points for a South Carolina team that's second-to-last in the SEC in scoring at 62.9 per game.

Bruce Ellington, second on the team at 10.8 points a contest, has shot 29.5 percent the last three games.

The Gamecocks have dropped eight straight against Top 25 opponents, though they defeated Gators 72-69 in Gainesville last Jan. 15 behind 23 points from Ellington. Ranked 17th for the second matchup, Florida won 79-60 at Columbia.

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