Breaking down Florida, UK’s top five matchups

Tyler Ulis gives commands to his teammates just before a Mizzou free throw at the University of Kentucky vs. University of Missouri basketball game on Jan. 27 in Louisville. Photo by Cameron Sadler | Staff 

Anthony Crawford

This weekend’s matchup with the Florida Gators may not be as high profile as it has been in past years, but it still represents a big opportunity for both teams. Here is a rundown of what you can expect from the matchups in the game.

Tyler Ulis vs. Chris Chiozza

Both of these sophomores come in as players who provided major contribution off the bench last season and have become full-time operators of their respective offenses.

Tyler Ulis has the advantage in scoring with 16.2 points per game compared to just 7 from Chris Chiozza. However, both point guards rank in the top 10 in the SEC in assists, with Ulis coming in at second with 6.1 and Chiozza at seventh with 4.5.

Isaiah Briscoe vs. Kasey Hill

The shooting guard spots in the lineup for both UK and Florida are occupied by two non-shooters. For UK, freshman Isaiah Briscoe is shooting 15.4 percent from three and 40.3 percent from the free-throw line.

While he has had some success recently with his long two-point shots, he makes most of his contribution in the paint. Kasey Hill makes the same kind of contributions for the Gators, but where Briscoe uses his strength to get into the lane, Hill uses his speed. The junior also is Florida’s second best set-up man averaging three assists per game.

Jamal Murray vs. KeVaughn Allen

This matchup features scorers form both teams. While Jamal Murray leads the matchup and UK in scoring with 17.5 points per game, what has been more impressive is how he affects games in other ways. Murray is averaging 4.9 rebounds and had his highest assist total in conference play with five in the Cats loss in Knoxville.

While his scoring is not as high, KeVaughn Allen’s 14.6 points per game average in conference play is still impressive for a freshman. He is shooting over 40 percent from three in conference play and has shown the ability to catch fire from deep. It was just last month when Allen had a 27-point outing against Ole Miss, in which he went 6-7 from three.

Derek Willis vs. Dorian Finney-Smith

With both of these teams coming in sporting small-ball lineups, it should be an interesting matchup with 6’9” Derek Willis guarding 6’8” Dorian Finney-Smith.

Both play a similar role for their teams providing spacing with their shooting and attacking the glass, but whereas Willis has been only making these types of contributions for a couple weeks, Smith has been doing it for the past two seasons for the Gators. Smith was an All-SEC Second Team last season and this season will be the second in a row in which he leads the team in points and rebounds.

Alex Poythress vs. John Egbunu

Alex Poythress was on his way to turning in back-to-back good performances with 12 first half points until he got stuck with foul trouble in the second half against Tennessee. He will be crucial for UK, as he is one of the few players who have the strength to match up with 6’11”, 255 lbs. John Egbunu.

This is Egbunu’s first season with the Gators after sitting out a year because of transfer rules, but he has been an immediate contributor. He is second on the team in rebounds with 6.4 per game and is also the team’s third leading scorer with 10.5 points per game while shooting 58 percent from the field.