Last tune up for Gators before SEC

Florida sophomore guards Andrew Nembhard (2) and Noah Locke (10) congratulate forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (24) after a shot in the first half against Utah State on Dec. 21 in Sunrise. [Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press]
Florida is back at the O’Connell Center, where the men’s basketball team last played on Nov. 29, looking to regain some momentum today before the start of the SEC schedule.
While playing a difficult schedule, part of a non-conference slate that is ranked the 16th hardest in the nation, Long Beach State may be the team that gets the Gators (7-4) rolling. Long Beach State (4-10), out of the Big West Conference, has lost six of seven.
“This is my fifth year at Florida; if you look at our schedule all five years, it’s been brutal,” UF coach Mike White said after last week’s 65-62 loss to Utah State in the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise. “We’re going to continue doing that. People can talk about records all they want, but it’s who you play and how you do against them.”
Kerry Blackshear Jr. has put up 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds to lead the way for the Gators. Keyontae Johnson has complemented Blackshear and is putting up 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
“We’re more focused on getting better,” Blackshear said after the Utah State loss. “I thought we did a lot during this game, but we have to keep getting better. We had some really good looks, good opportunities we didn’t convert, but further down the line, as we get used to these types of battles, they’ll start to fall.”
Long Beach State is led by Chance Hunter, who is averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds. Hunter has connected on 46 percent of the 50 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 7 of 20 over his last five games. He’s also converted 55 percent of his foul shots this season.
Of note: Long Beach State is 0-9 when it allows at least 69 points and 4-1 when it holds opponents to less than 69. … Florida is a perfect 5-0 when the team makes seven or more 3-pointers. The Gators are 2-4 when the team hits fewer than seven 3s.

Who: Long Beach State (4-10) vs. Florida (7-4)
When: 12 p.m. today
Where: O’Connell Center
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 103.7-FM


Florida Pos. Ht. Wt. Class Per Game
Keyontea Johnson F 6-5 225 Sophomore 12.5 pts / 6.5 reb
Kerry Blackshear Jr. F 6-10 232 G-Transfer 13.5 pts / 8.5 reb
Scottie Lewis G 6-5 187 Freshman 8.1 pts / 4.2 reb
Noah Locke G 6-2 193 Sophomore 8.9 pts / 2.7 reb
Andrew Nembhard PG 6-5 191 Sophomore 9.8 pts / 3.2 reb / 5.3 ast
Long Beach State Pos.  Ht.  Wt.  Class Per Game
Jordan Roberts F 6-9 200 Junior 4.4 pts / 3.3 reb
Max De Geest G 6-3 185 Freshman 4.5 pts / 1.9 reb
Michael Carter III G 6-5 175 Sophomore 12.1 pts / 2.6 reb / 3.1 ast
Chance Hunter G 6-6 190 Sophomore 13.2 pts / 4.9 reb
Colin Slater G 6-1 190 Junior 10.6 pts / 2.3 reb