Date: December 02, 2013 7:00 PM EDT
Connecticut and Florida have needed some luck to post the records they've compiled entering Monday night's matchup in Storrs.
The 12th-ranked Huskies' inability to keep teams off the offensive glass, though, could finally end up costing them against the No. 15 Gators.
After scraping by Boston College and Indiana by a combined three points to win the 2K Sports Classic, Connecticut (7-0) claimed a largely unimpressive 76-66 home victory over Loyola, Md. on Tuesday. The Huskies seemingly had a chance to blow things open against the Greyhounds, grabbing a 23-9 lead with less than eight minutes to play in the first half, but Loyola trimmed the deficit to eight by halftime.
"We get up 15 points and then we give the lead up again," coach Kevin Ollie said. "I want to get up 15 points and then I want to go up 25. I don't want to go back down to five. And that's the way we've been playing in some of these games and great teams don't do that."
Rebounding could be a big concern for UConn moving forward. Ollie's club has been outrebounded in three straight games and is allowing an average of 14.7 offensive rebounds on the season, one of the country's highest rates. The Huskies surrendered 20 to Loyola - which had totaled just 12 over its previous two games.
That doesn't bode well for facing the Gators, who have outrebounded each of their last five opponents while averaging 14.0 offensive boards.
Florida (6-1) began a challenging four-game stretch with a 67-66 home victory over Florida State on Friday. The Seminoles' half-court shot at the buzzer barely missed the mark after Dorian Finney-Smith knocked down the second of two free throws to put the Gators ahead with 1.3 seconds left.
Like UConn, Florida also could have won more comfortably after holding an eight-point edge with three minutes left.
Finney-Smith's game-winning opportunity at the line was set up when he was fouled after grabbing the Gators' season-high 20th offensive rebound.
"I thought that was the difference in the game," coach Billy Donovan said.
After dealing with the Huskies, Florida will host No. 6 Kansas next Tuesday prior to traveling to New York to meet No. 16 Memphis in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 17.
The Huskies could need another big performance from junior forward DeAndre Daniels against the Gators' strong front line. Daniels scored 18 of his 21 points and gathered all eight of his rebounds in the second half against Loyola.
He's averaging 18.8 points on 52.8 percent shooting over his last four games after shooting 33.3 percent and averaging 6.3 points in his first three contests.
Florida has been led offensively by senior forward Casey Prather, who is averaging 19.1 points after entering the season with a 3.1 career scoring average.
The Gators won the only previous meeting, 69-60 in overtime in the 1994 regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament. Ollie was on that UConn team.
Florida has lost its last four non-conference road games against ranked opponents.