Florida-South Carolina Preview
(AP) -- Bradley Beal has gotten back to form, and that's a good thing for the Florida Gators.
With their star freshman starring again, the No. 19 Gators look for their first road win of the season when they face the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday.
The 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, Beal scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Florida to a 70-48 victory over Georgia on Tuesday night. It was Beal's third double-double and helped him snap out of a mini-slump.
Coming into the game, Beal had made just 14 of his last 47 shots, including 2 for 15 from 3-point range, and had 14 turnovers to just nine assists. Florida (13-4, 1-1) lost two games during that 4-game span.
Against the Bulldogs, Beal made 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and committed just one turnover.
"It felt good," Beal said. "I figured it was going to come sooner or later. I just played my game. I really didn't try to focus and get too involved in myself. Just let the game come to me."
The Gators hope for a similar performance as they try to win away from Gainesville for the first time. Florida has won 15 in a row at home, but hasn't won a true road game since an 86-76 victory at Vanderbilt on March 5.
To be fair, the Gators first two road losses were at then-No. 3 Ohio State and current No. 1 Syracuse, then ranked fourth. The last two, however, included a double-overtime loss at Rutgers and an awful performance in a 67-56 loss to Tennessee in their SEC opener. The Gators allowed Tennessee to shoot 51 percent from the field.
"That's the big issue with our team right now: We haven't won on the road," center Patric Young said. "I forgot what it feels like to win on the road, going into someone else's place and being able to beat them in their own house. I want that feeling again. I know our guys want that feeling again. We just want people to know that we're able to do it."
Florida focused on defense in practice and it showed against Georgia. The Gators held the Bulldogs to 36.4 percent shooting and allowed a season low in points. If the Gators continue to play that kind of defense, it may spell trouble for South Carolina, which has lost eight of the past 11 matchups with Florida.
The Gamecocks scored just 12 first-half points and lost 67-57 to Vanderbilt at home on Tuesday night, their second straight loss to open conference play. South Carolina shot just 5 for 26 in the first half and trailed by as many as 24 in the second half before a late 14-0 run made the final margin more respectable.
"The first half, we didn't finish some layups, missed some easy ones," said Gamecocks coach Darrin Horn. "For whatever reason, the guys come out and score 45 points in the second half. We've got to continue to find a way to put all those good things together over the course of 40 minutes.
"It's going to continue to be a challenge to have guys step up and do what they're capable of doing, night in, night out."
South Carolina (8-8, 0-2) has lost six in a row – including the conference tournament – and 11 of its past 12 games against SEC opponents.
The road team won both meetings last season.
Updated January 13, 2012