UF women out to avoid letdown

Florida guard Lanita Bartley and the Gators look to avoid a hangover against Alabama.

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 11:42 p.m.

A quick glance at the schedule might lead one to believe that tonight's Southeastern Conference matchup between Florida and Alabama has all the ingredients of one of those infamous “trap games.”

After all, the Gators (12-6, 2-3) are coming off a 62-58 home upset win over an LSU team that was one of two teams unbeaten in SEC play and have a road date at the other one, No. 6 Kentucky, this Sunday. With the Crimson Tide (10-9, 0-5) being the only winless team in the league and losers of five in a row, they could slip right under the proverbial radar.

But with five experienced seniors on this year's UF squad and a former player in head coach Amanda Butler who is all too familiar with the grind of SEC women's basketball, these Gators know there's no room for complacency.

“I don't think that's going to be an issue at all,” Butler said. “We've got a healthy respect for Alabama, and I think it's also a reflection of our respect for the league. It's real easy for someone to lose in this league. We had a stretch last year where we lost four games in a row and then beat some of the best teams in the conference, so their SEC record at this point is no indication of what they're capable of.”

“I can see that from the outside looking in, it looks that way, but I think every year that I've been here, we've lost to Alabama,” senior guard Jordan Jones said. “They may not have the best record, but for some reason, they've had our number lately. So we're definitely not overlooking them.”

Considering the Tide have won three of the last four games against the Gators, UF's caution appears well founded.

“We just need to build on that momentum and build on that confidence from such a great win against LSU,” said senior center Azania Stewart. “In the SEC, anybody can win, and in prior years, Alabama always seems to steal a win from us. So I'm definitely getting the girls focused for that game.”

Tip is set for 7 p.m. in the O'Connell Center.

Tickets are $5 for reserved seats, $4 for general admission and $2 for youths 17 and under, while UF and Santa Fe students are admitted free. The game will be televised live on Sun Sports, with the first 500 fans receiving free rally towels.

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