UF women's hoops hosts 'Noles

Florida head coach Amanda Butler.

Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 12:00 a.m.

The Florida women's basketball team faces its biggest challenge of the young season in more ways than one tonight.


Today's game

Florida St. at Florida, 5:30 p.m., 99.5 FM

The Gators (1-1) will tangle with their first ranked opponent this year when they square off against No. 21 FSU (2-1) at 5:30 in the O'Connell Center in the first game of a basketball doubleheader.

The UF men take on North Florida at 8.

The Seminoles also pose a challenge because of their height, led by 6-4 preseason All-America center Cierra Bravard, who is averaging 11.3 points per game, and 6-3 power forward Natasha Howard, who is averaging a team-leading 10.3 rebounds a game.

“Well, it's a giant challenge,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “It's just one of those games that year-to-year, it doesn't really matter who's favored, who's more experienced, who's bigger — none of those things seem to come into play. It's just one of the greatest rivalries in sports, and we're proud to be a part of it and to represent Gator Nation.”

Florida's 67-game series with FSU is the longest of any Gator opponent. UF owns a 40-27 edge, but the 'Noles have won two in a row — by a combined total of six points.

FSU won last year's game in Tallahassee, 74-72, and won the previous year in Gainesville, 66-62.

“Every time we play them, it's always close,” said UF senior center Azania Stewart. “It always seems to come down to a play or two, and basically it's the little things that make the difference.”

Senior guard Jennifer Jones, whose 15 points per game average leads the Gators, said UF is looking forward to the challenge.

“It's FSU,” she said. “It's like coach Butler said — ‘If you don't get excited to play FSU, there's something wrong with you.' There's nothing she needs to say to motivate us. We're ready to play Florida State and show them who we are.”

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