Florida Gators vs. Virginia Cavaliers Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 10th 2023


Virginia faces tougher — and much taller — competition in its second game of the season Friday night as the Cavaliers clash with Florida in Charlotte, N.C. The Gators (1-0) got 16 points from 7-foot-1 center Micah Handlogten, 15 from 6-foot-10 forward Tyrese Samuel and 13 from 6-foot-11 Alex Condon in Monday’s 93-73 win against Loyola Maryland. Guard Riley Kugel, who is “only” 6-foot-5, paced Florida with 23 points, while Handlogten was 7 of 8 from the field (2 of 2 from deep), Samuel had eight rebounds and Condon connected on 2 of 3 attempts from behind the arc. Second-year coach Todd Golden restocked the roster after a 16-17 season, adding transfers Handlogten (Marshall), Samuel (Seton Hall) and guard Walter Clayton Jr. (Iona). Clayton contributed nine points, eight boards, five assists and three steals. Kugel, a preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection, picked up where he left off in his 2022-23 freshman season when he averaged 17.3 points over the last 10 games. “I’m definitely more than just a scorer,” said Kugel, who made 10 of 15 shots and added a career-high six steals. “I feel like last year you saw a glimpse, a tiny bit of my game. Now, this year, I can show y’all everything I can bring to the table.” The tallest starter Virginia faced in Monday’s 80-50 win over Tarleton State was 6-foot-7. The Cavaliers (1-0) dominated the glass (40-27 rebounding edge) and tallied more 3-point field goals (10) than turnovers (eight). Returning Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year Reece Beekman led UVA with 16 points, seven assists and three steals. Backcourt partner Isaac McKneely added 15 points with four 3-pointers, and freshman Leon Bond III had 12 points and nine rebounds. The Cavaliers counter the Florida frontcourt with 6-foot-9 Oklahoma transfer Jacob Groves and 6-11 freshman Blake Buchanan, but strong perimeter play is their best path to victory. “We have to be able to stretch (defenses),” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “We’re not a dominant interior scoring team. … So at times you’ve got to stretch it and hopefully we’ll be able to shoot it at a decent clip this year.” Florida won two of the three previous meetings with Virginia, most recently a 65-39 rout in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 18, 2017. –Field Level Media

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