Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#843 Florida -4 vs.
#844 UConn 137
Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 3:00pm EST
Written by Chris Altruda



#843 University of Florida
#844 University of Connecticut


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No. 15 Florida at Connecticut

When and Where: Sunday, Nov. 17, Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn., 3 p.m. EST.

A pair of teams trying to find their identity square off in an intriguing non-conference clash Sunday when Connecticut hosts 15th-ranked Florida.

Gators lacking cohesion as White tries to integrate Blackshear into offense

The Gators (2-1) were a trendy darkhorse Final Four pick in the preseason, with a promising nucleus returning and landing graduate transfer center Kerry Blackshear, who helped Virginia Tech reach the Sweet 16 of last season's NCAA Tournament.

Florida, though, has been hit-and-miss through its first three games, failing to shoot better than 42 percent in any game and getting manhandled at home by Florida State last Sunday. The Gators bounced back from that win, but barely as they fought off Towson 66-60 on Thursday night.

Blackshear had 13 points and 13 rebounds, recording his third double-double in as many games as Florida closed the game on an 11-3 burst over the final 5:46. Andrew Nembhard chipped in 11 points and nine assists and Scottie Lewis scored 15 points as the Gators limited the Tigers to 6 of 19 from 3-point range.

''I think we did pretty well,'' said Blackshear, who hit a go-ahead jumper with 1:06 to play, to The Associated Press. ''We understood they would be a really aggressive team, very physical, so I thought our guys responded well.''

Florida is holding teams to 38.8 percent shooting but is hitting at just 37.9 percent. The Gators are also struggling on the perimeter, connecting at just 23.7 percent (14 for 59) as Nembhard, Tre Mann and Noah Locke are a combined 8 for 36.

Hurley steaming after home loss to Saint Joseph's

Danny Hurley is in the midst of changing the culture in his second season at Connecticut, looking to restore the storied program. The Huskies have split their first two games but are coming off a 96-87 home loss to Saint Joseph's on Wednesday night that left a bitter taste in Hurley's mouth.

UConn trailed by as many as 27 points in the first half and made a furious charge to make it a one-possession game with less than seven minutes to play but failed to get over the hump. Christian Vital had 26 points and 16 rebounds, but he was also 5 for 21 from the field as the Huskies shot 34.9 percent and allowed the Hawks to hit 13 3-pointers.

Hurley made no attempt to hide his disappointment postgame regarding his team's inability to play to the scouting report in the first half and took no solace in his team's comeback.

When your season is just beginning and you’re trying to put three years of ugly losing behind you, it was just uninspiring, just a terrible way to start a game," Hurley told the Hartford Courant. "I’ve never coached a team that’s been in that position to start a game.

“No stock in that," he added when asked about taking positives from the rally. "Down three, a chance to get the ball, where we had people watching instead of fighting for their lives to get the defensive rebound. That’s accepting losing, that’s being a part of losing for a couple of years and you start wearing that like it’s underwear and it’s in your bones.”

Vital, a senior who has yet to play in a postseason tournament, has scored 43 points in the first two games but is also 11 of 30 from the floor. UConn has gone 1-3 against ranked opponents since Hurley took over, with the lone victory coming against then-No. 15 Syracuse in his first such opportunity.

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While Hurley is a mercurial coach who wears his emotions on his sleeve, there was something really off-putting about his post-game press conference. He sounded hurt and angry about what had transpired in the first half of that game. Granted, he may have been raw about the loss, but it also felt like he grasped the enormity of the task of raising the leviathan that is UConn.

How he builds his kids up in the practices before this game will be crucial. Florida is struggling on the offensive end of the floor, but the defense has traveled under coach Mike White, and it will undoubtedly show up in Storrs. This has the feel of a game the Gators should control, and if they are successful early, they could turn it into a blowout.

Prediction: Gators -3.5

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Per, the under is trending strongly with Florida in two key areas -- non-conference play and on the road. The under is 21-5 in the Gators' last 26 non-conference games and 22-6 in the last 28 on the road. The under is also 10-4 in UConn's last 14 home games and 11-4 in its last 15 versus SEC opponents.

Prediction: UNDER 137.5

Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is based in Chicago. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiner, he worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Follow Chris daily right here at W&W and on Twitter at @AlTruda73. You won’t be disappointed.