Xavier is having a little fun with its matchup with Florida on New Years Eve at the Cintas Center.
The concessionaires plan to serve fried alligator wings (four for $10) for Friday’s matchup between the Gators and Musketeers in Cincinnati. The Gator meat, more than 30 pounds of it, was flown in from Louisiana, not Florida.
According to foodreference.com, alligator meat has a fine, light-grained texture that many people compare favorably to pork and chicken.
I’ll opt for Skyline Chili or the Montgomery Inn for ribs.
— The key to Florida beating Xavier could depend on how well the Gators defend junior point guard Tu Holloway. With swingman Jordan Crawford gone to the NBA and shooting guard Brad Redford out for the season after knee surgery, Xavier has turned to Holloway for offense. Holloway is scoring 20.8 points per game while dishing 5.5 assists.
Did we forget to mention that Holloway is getting to the free-throw line more than 10 times per game?
“That’s really, really impressive,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Both Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton are familiar with Holloway. Holloway grew up in Long Island. Walker, from Brooklyn, played against him often in youth and travel league games.
“I’ve seen him since he was young,” Walker said. “He’s made a lot of progress as a player … we gotta basically try to keep him off the line and not give him easy points.”
Boynton said he played with and against Holloway over the summer at NBA camp.
“He’s a great driver and he draws fouls, shoots about 10 free throws per game,” Boynton said. “We got to try to keep him out of the paint.”
Boynton will probably get the initial defensive assignment on Holloway. While Boynton’s shooting has been erratic, he has played consistently well on the defensive end. Earlier this month, Boynton held Kansas State All-American shooting guard Jacob Pullen to a quiet 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Pullen got many of his baskets late in garbage time.
— Florida coach Billy Donovan isn’t a big fan of pressing on the road. But the press could work to Florida’s advantage on Friday. Xavier plays a rotation of six to seven players, while Florida is 10 deep this season.
Florida is forcing 14.5 turnovers per game, but players think they can get more out of the press this season.
“It’s been OK, not the best,” Walker said. “We can get more pressure on the ball and get more traps. I think it’s getting better along with everything else and I think it will be good to tire them out being they only play five or six players. So for them to have to deal with the press the whole game could be a factor for us.”
— The game will serve as a homecoming of sorts for Florida senior forward Alex Tyus. Tyus is a St. Louis native but played his senior year of high school at Harmony Christian Prep in Cincinnati.
— Walker admitted revenge will be a factor after Xavier beat Florida 76-64 last season at the O’Connell Center. “You always want to beat a team that’s beat you,” Walker said. “Even if they didn’t and we never played them, we know it’s a big game.’