The Gators went into their four-game stretch against Florida State, Connecticut, Kansas and Memphis knowing the chance they had to prepare their NCAA Tournament chances. Florida exited the stretch with a 3-1 record and one random bounce away from a 4-0 record.
The only game Florida lost was at Connecticut, when Shabazz Napier missed a jump shot while the Gators led with one second to go. Connecticut big man DeAndre Daniels tipped the ball over his head and right into the hands of Napier, who hit a jumper from the free throw line as time expired to give the Huskies a one-point win.
The Gators were able to rebound with a 67-61 win over Kansas before a 77-75 win over Memphis at Madison Square Garden on December 17. Florida completed its pre-Christmas schedule with a 66-49 win over Fresno State in Sunrise, Fla.
The voters noticed.
Florida jumped to No. 13 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 14 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Gators’ only two losses this season came at No. 4/6 Wisconsin and at No. 15/15 Connecticut.
The Gators return to action when they host Savannah State on December 29 at 3 p.m.