Photo: Golden Ball PK80; Credit University of Florida Athletic Association
The Florida Gators hit the ground in Portland, Ore., for the Phil Knight Legacy where they will play three games in four days over Thanksgiving Weekend.
The Gators are joined by Duke, Gonzaga, Oregon State, Portland State, Purdue, West Virginia and Xavier in the field. Florida will tip-off against Xavier on Thursday.
You can find everything you need to know about the matchup below.
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Florida Gators vs. Xavier Musketeers
Where: Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland, Ore.
When: Thursday, Nov. 24 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Radio: Gators IMG Sports Network, Sirius Channel: 386 | SXM App 976
Odds: Florida is a 1.5-point underdog to Xavier, according to the Sports Illustrated Sportsbook. The over/under is set at 150.5 points.
Series history: Florida is 2-3 all-time against Xavier. In their last matchup, the Gators fell to the Musketeers 72-56 to be eliminated from the 2021-22 NIT.
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In a rematch of last year’s NIT second-round matchup, the Florida Gators and Xavier Musketeers are set to tip off for a Thanksgiving bout. The contest will commence a heavy slate of games for each team in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament in Portland, Ore.
The Gators enter the contest at 3-1 after taking down Stony Brook, Kennesaw State and Florida State to begin the year. A loss at home to FAU sits as the only blemish on new head coach Todd Golden’s record in orange and blue thus far.
Xavier, on the other hand, enters with an identical record after knocking off Morgan State, Montana and Fairfield in their first three contests before falling short against No. 12 Indiana, 81-79, on Friday.
The Musketeers can potentially present some issues of size in the frontcourt against the Gators with their two top scorers standing over 6-foot-9 in Jack Nunge and Zach Freemantle.
That will make it imperative for UF to remain steadfast on boxing out and crashing the class to limit any second-chance opportunities for the dynamic frontcourt duo.
In an attempt to combat that size, Florida will continue to employ Colin Castleton at the five spot to challenge Nunge with the likelihood of Alex Fudge seeing more time due to his length to take on Freemantle.
Looking to a potential small ball lineup in order to maintain a quick tempo and run the floor consistently, the Gators are exploring a possible change to the lineup after a strong second-half showing against Florida State on Friday.
If they elect to head in this direction, junior guard Trey Bonham will be slotted in as the two-guard with Kowacie Reeves Jr. hitting the bench to start the contest.
It will also allow Florida to defend higher out on the perimeter to slow guard Colby Jones from facilitating at the high level he has through four games — averaging 6.7 assists per game — with the quickness of Bonham and point guard Kyle Lofton occupying the backcourt.
Lofton, Will Richard, CJ Felder and Castleton will slide in alongside him as the starting group.
Not only will that aid the unit to find quick buckets in the fast break, but will spread the floor for the nation’s second-leading scorer in Castleton (25.3 points per game) to work on the inside in one on one with the option to kick out when help defenders crash down onto him.
Florida will look to maintain the momentum it gained on Friday in Tallahassee by challenging a talented Musketeers team once again led by Sean Miller.
The Gators will turn around to play at either 3:30 or 6 p.m. ET on Friday against either Duke or Oregon State, depending on the outcome of both contests.
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