It's a contest between one of the best defenses in college hoops and one of the best offenses as Texas A&M heads to Sunrise, Florida, to take on the 13th-ranked Florida Gators on Saturday in the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic. The 22nd-ranked Aggies, coming off a six-game winning streak, hope the return of Khris Middleton and their suffocating defense will be enough to hold off their future SEC conference-mate.
Texas A&M (8-1) already looks buoyed by the return of Middleton, who missed the last seven games with a partially torn meniscus. When he rejoined the lineup in last Saturday's 67-54 victory over Louisiana-Monroe, Middleton scored 24 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Texas A&M's defense has been excellent, even in Middleton's absence. Players like Elston Turner, David Loubeau, and Ray Turner stepped up to help the Aggies create one of the most effective defenses in the country. They're currently ranked fourth nationally, holding opponents to an average of 51.4 points per game. Over the last five games, that number improved to 44 points.
More on the Gators versus the Aggies, after the Jump.This is A&M's first test against a ranked team this season. The Aggies haven't exactly been prolific on the offensive end. More than half of their average 64 points per game have been in the paint. Their game against Louisiana-Monroe was a little too close for comfort until Middleton had a second half run.
On the other hand, Florida (7-2) is third in the nation in scoring (averaging 86.8 points per game) and first in three pointers (averaging 11.3 three-pointers per game). But this scoring prowess doesn't extend to free throw shooting: the Gators shoot just under 60% from the line. This hasn't been much of a negative factor for Florida yet - their two losses are to final four contenders Syracuse and Ohio State - but that could change on Saturday. Eight Aggies played more than 10 minutes in last Saturday's game. They have the bodies to take Florida to the foul line repeatedly. But it might not be enough to stem the Gators' inexhaustible offense.
Tip-off is 1:30 CST and the game will be televised on Sun Sports and Fox Sports Net.