Highlights from Todd Golden’s media session before challenging South Carolina

Florida basketball is undergoing serious preparations before entering hostile territory on Saturday afternoon, challenging the No. 18 South Carolina Gamecocks in a marquee matchup on national television.

It’ll be another chance for the Orange and Blue to gain another Quadrant 1 victory before entering the post-season madness of March. The momentum is on Florida’s side after compiling two straight wins over the Vanderbilt Commodores and Missouri Tigers in Gainesville.

It’ll be a hostile environment and the Gamecocks usually fair pretty well while playing at home, claiming a 13-2 record at Colonial Life Arena. On the flip side, Florida has been able to overcome hostile crowds, taking down Kentucky in overtime, 94-91 on Jan. 31.

Here’s how head coach Todd Golden is viewing the matchup on Saturday.

On getting an opportunity for another Quadrant 1 victory

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

I think it’s a great opportunity for a number of reasons. Obviously No. 1 it’s just a great game. It’s a different style than we’ve seen lately. They’re super physical, more of a halfcourt team.

They’re different personnel and different stylistically than Mississippi State, but that similar kind of physical mentality. And so I think going on the road and playing in a really good environment will be beneficial for us, two ranked team, as you say, a Quad 1 opportunity.

Then on top of that a really great opportunity for seeding in the SEC tournament. We’re jockeying for one of those spots, and obviously, whoever gets this game done I believe will kind of have the inside track against the other team in terms of finishing above them. So it’s a great game this time of year. Not much you can lose by going out there, but you can win a lot you, can gain a lot. So we’re excited to get out there.

On how the Gators have performed against physical teams

Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner
Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner

I feel like we’ve done okay.

The Mississippi State game it took us a couple of minutes to get our legs under us, but then I thought we played great the rest of the way. And I think this team, again, I gotta give them credit, I think South Carolina they’re incredibly physical at all five spots. It’s not just the front court, it’s the guards.

They’re all really, really tough and they’re really together as a team and it’ll be a good challenge to have to face them.

How Golden can learn from playing a game like Saturday

Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner
Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner

We’ve played a lot better on the road lately than earlier in SEC play. We weren’t as good early on. Obviously, we played poorly at Mississippi.

I thought we did a better job, but didn’t have a great result at Tennessee, and then kind of incrementally from the Missouri game on we’ve played a lot better. At Kentucky was a great result for us ,and then we had big-time leads at A&M and Bama. So we played well.

I think this game is going to be an equal challenge to those. And obviously it would be great if we can obtain a lead like we had and then finish it, like we had not been able to in the last two. But it’s going to be a great environment and just another challenge to prepare us for postseason play.

What's surprised Golden the most this season

Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Just the way we’ve been consistent over the last month and a half. You know, we really haven’t – knock on wood – had any bad efforts. We haven’t won all the games, but we’ve played pretty well and pretty consistent. Just the way our guys have come together.

We thought we would be better this year but adding five or six new guys, transfers, and then bringing our young guys in. We thought we would be better but we didn’t know how quickly it would click, and the fact that it has, at this point, we’re really pleased with that.

Just that consistency and the fact that obviously we’ve got 20 wins with three to go, that’s absolutely a surprise.

Florida and South Carolina subverting preseason expectations

Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Absolutely. And obviously it’s for us a pretty nice accomplishment in Year 2 to still be in the mix. Obviously it’s a long shot to win the league, but to have a chance with three games left it says a lot about our season so far.

But we’re kind of focusing on and kind of gunning for right now is one of those top four seats, to get to the double bye of the SEC tournament, so we would have to play untill Friday.

There’s a lot that can happen between now and there’s a lot of different ways that it could shake out dependent upon how these games go. So, again, I just point to tomorrow being one of those opportunities where if we get it done, we’re gonna put ourselves in a really good spot down the stretch.

South's Carolina's rebuild

Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner
Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner

It is similar in the sense that they got some really good transfers. And then the biggest key for them to really have taken off is how well (Collin) Murray-Boyles is playing. He’s a freshman, but he’s a fantastic player and he’s done really, really well for them. And he gives him a lot of physicality. A great left-handed post finisher and a guy that plays beyond his years, similar to how you know Condo and Tommy play for us I believe.

Obviously they have Meechie (Johnson) back. They have Zach Davis back. They have some continuity as well with some of their role players. Josh Gray has had a really good year. Lamont and his staff did a really good job kind of adding the right pieces and then also growing guys within his program.

How to Watch

Read more

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Gators slide after win but still in Basketball Power Index top 30

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Florida moves up a seed in The Athletic’s latest bracket watch update

Gators still a 6-seed in USA TODAY Sports’ latest bracketology


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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire