Show Me My SEC Tournament Opponent, 2020-21: Florida

Lineup notes

Florida:

  • Because Scottie Lewis and Tyree Appleby were late to shootaround – which, how is that still happening in March? – Florida started their eighth different lineup of the season yesterday: Locke, Mann, Duruji, Ruzhentsev, and Castleton. 
  • I assume Appleby will be back in there in place of Ruzhentsev, but he played only 23 minutes. Lewis only got 16 and appears to really be in Mike White’s doghouse.
  • Florida’s best lineup this season appears to be Appleby, Mann, Locke, Duruji, and Payne, though that first four plus Castleton is also very effective.

Tennessee:

  • Considering Tennessee literally beat this exact opponent five days ago, I assume the following lineup will be it: Vescovi, Springer, Johnson, Pons, Fulkerson.
  • Tennessee now firmly possesses a seven-man rotation. None of Gaines, Anosike, or Nkamhoua have topped four minutes in the last three games, and Nkamhoua is the only one of the three to do so even once in the last seven games.

Key matchups

Colin Castleton vs. John Fulkerson (and Yves Pons). Castleton was kind of bad against Tennessee on Sunday, which genuinely surprised me. Fulkerson was the much better player for all 40 minutes, made Castleton uncomfortable, and forced him into committing four fouls in a game where Florida needed him to stay out of foul trouble. Tennessee needs to hold him to 12 or less.

Tre Mann vs. Keon Johnson/Jaden Springer. I PROMISE HE’S PLAYING THIS TIME. This is probably a game where both will rotate on the main Mann matchup. Mann and Castleton are the only Florida players I’d fear in terms of consistent ability to take over a game, and Mann is the only player that can really consistently score at all three levels on the roster. Johnson and Springer need to defend like their lives depend on it.

Tyree Appleby vs. Santiago Vescovi. Less of a “Appleby is really good” thing than a “Santiago Vescovi has to be better than 1-for-6 and 0-for-4 from three” thing.

Three predictions

  1. Tennessee wins the turnover battle;
  2. Tre Mann becomes one of a slight number of players to get 20+ points on Tennessee, scoring exactly 20;
  3. Tennessee 68, Florida 65.

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