With Saturday's game between Arizona and Florida being one of the biggest to see McKale in quite some time, we have decided to take a closer look at it than other games this season and in the past. Much of Saturday's game will be decided in the backcourt, where Florida and Arizona both have their strengths and weaknesses.
For the Gators, it all starts with 6-foot-2, 176-pound point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Wilbekin missed the first two games of the season, but has now seen his minutes increase every game since his return, including two efforts in which he went over 30 minutes. There is a good chance he would have played even more, but the Gators have yet to play in a close game this season.
Wilbekin is a solid all-around player that excels at numerous parts of his game. Offensively, he is at his best when he is able to take his man off the dribble and hit a mid-range jumper. That does not mean that Wilbekin can't hit the open three-pointer as well, as he hit four of nine attempts in a win over Central Florida. However, Wilbekin is 6-16 on the season and his strength offensively really is not from behind the arc.
In fact, his biggest strength besides his mid-range jumper may be in creating for others. Wilbekin has good vision and plays to the strengths of his teammates. He has 17 assists in his past three games and has turned the ball over only five times in that span.
Senior Kenny Boynton might be Florida's most dangerous guard, but he is probably the most unpredictable as well. Boynton's strength is easily in a high-paced game, as he can find himself struggling in more of a half-court set. A good example of this Florida's big win over Wisconsin in which Boynton was only 3-9 from the field and had as many assists as turnovers. Against Central Florida, the Gators were able to run a bit more and he put together a game in which he scored 24 points on 7-15 shooting.
A closer look at Boynton's numbers this year actually reveals struggles against the better teams he has faced. In addition to the Wisconsin game, Boynton had 14 points against Florida State, but went 4-12 from the field while he was 2-11 from the field against Marquette. Boynton was flat out bad against Arizona last season and will likely be looking to bounce back this year.
Boynton is a solid defender, but much of his game is based on how he does offensively. If Arizona lets him get going, Boynton becomes one of the most dangerous players in the country. If not, he tends to get down emotionally and let the other parts of his game suffer.
Senior Mike Rosario is the third guard that will start for Florida and he is a scorer, plain and simple. He does not do much else, but he has a knack for scoring points in bunches. Rosario has only made 7 of 26 three-point attempts, but is still shooting 43 percent from the field because of his quick release inside the arc and ability to hit a floater.
Rosario is another player that does better in a full-court game as opposed to a half-court set. He does well in transition and can get to the line when he chooses to be aggressive. The biggest weakness with Rosario, however, is that he sometimes floats away from the basket. For instance, he has had three games in which he has gotten to the free-throw line one time or less and two in which he has gone to the line six times or more.
Defensively, Rosario struggles a bit, although he does play hard. He is not a strong player by any means and has difficulty getting through screens to contest shots. It would not be a surprise to see Arizona choose to exploit that, although a zone defense may limit the amount of times the Wildcats would be able to do that offensively.
Freshman Michael Frazier is probably good for about 15 minutes on Saturday. He may actually be a bit underrated because he has nice touch and can really score once he gets it going. Frazier scored 17 points in 22 minutes against Marquette and 12 points in 17 minutes against Florida State. In addition, he has taken 34 field goal attempts this season and 27 of them are from behind the arc, where he has made 11 three-pointers.
Frazier is the type of player that can hurt Arizona if he is shooting well from three, but probably won't be much of a factor if he is not. The Wildcats have had success against those types of players this season, but he is still definitely a player to keep a close eye on.