One month ago, No. 4 Florida left no doubt it was the class of the Southeastern Conference with a resounding home victory over Missouri. The Gators will get a chance to prove it again Tuesday when they try to hand the Tigers their first home loss in nearly a year. Florida shot 59.3 percent from the field and forced 21 turnovers in an 83-52 triumph over Missouri on Jan. 19.
Florida has mostly cruised through its conference schedule - with the Feb. 5 loss at Arkansas the lone exception - as each of its 11 SEC victories have come by at least 17 points. However, Missouri has been almost as dominant at home, going 14-0 at Mizzou Arena with 12 of those wins coming by at least 14 points. The Tigers are 5-3 since losing to the Gators and saw their two-game winning streak snapped Saturday when Arkansas rallied in the final minute. Missouri is riding a 15-game home winning streak.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT FLORIDA (21-3, 11-1 SEC): Scottie Wilbekin's all-around play stole the show in the rout of the Tigers in January. Wilbekin notched his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 assists, but his most impressive achievement might have been acting as the main defender against Missouri guard Phil Pressey, who scored two points and committed a career-high 10 turnovers. Florida's defense has been key to the program's best start in conference play since 2006-07, holding 18 of its opponents to fewer than 60 points - including 11 to less than 50. The Gators rank third in the country in scoring defense (52.6) and fifth in field goal percentage defense (37.1).
ABOUT MISSOURI (18-7, 7-5): One of the biggest differences from the first meeting will be the presence of Laurence Bowers, who missed the first Florida contest with a knee injury that sidelined him for five games. Without Bowers, the Gators outscored the Tigers 48-14 in the paint. Even though Bowers is averaging only 7.7 points since his return, Missouri has been outscored in the post only once in those six contests. More impressively, the Tigers have accumulated at least 40 paint points in four of their last five games. Missouri ranks second in the SEC in scoring offense (76.5) and second nationally in rebounding (42.2).
1. Florida has shot at least 50 percent from the field in 12 of its last 14 games.
2. Missouri, which is 10-1 following a loss under coach Frank Haith, has won three straight home games against ranked opponents.
3. The Gators' plus-21.7 scoring margin trails only Indiana nationally.
PREDICTION: Florida 68, Missouri 62