That’s the question being posed in Gainesville today.
Because it’s Patrick Young Beard Night at the O’Connell center as the #7 Florida Gators take on neigboring rival the Georgia Bulldogs.
Playing off the success of Will Yeguete Brohawk Night last season where the Rowdy Reptiles wore orange colored faux-hawks in honor of forward Will Yeguetes mohawk, tonight those students will don orange colored fake beards in honor of senior center Patrick Young’s famous beard. Yes, fan interest in Gator basketball runs very high at a school formerly known as simply a football school and the Rowdy Reptiles, as the student section is known, will be loud and raucous for a national ESPNU audience.
The Gator’s opponent, the 8-6 Bulldogs, are 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since 2002 after a huge road upset of then #21 Missouri last Wednesday and Saturday’s victory over Alabama. They come in hoping to ride the surprising wave of success to another big conference road win. They are led by guards Charles Mann (14.1 ppg), the SEC player of the week after scoring 18 against Missouri including the game winner in overtime and 22 against Alabama, and Kenny Gaines (12.2 ppgs) who also dropped 22 against the Tide.
The 13-2 Gators (2-0 SEC) counter with a balanced lineup which features five players averaging in double figures. Leading scorer (F) Casey Prather (17.0) will sit for the second consecutive game due to a bone bruise in his right knee. In his absence on the road against Arkansas, Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith had a career game with his second double-double of the season finishing with a career high 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Point guard Scottie Wilbekin, himself nursing a sore ankle, came up big for the Gators against Arkansas hitting a floating jumper in the lane to tie the game and send it into overtime and then sealing the win with some clutch free throw shooting down the stretch. Patric Young is also playing through some knee soreness that has limited his effectiveness on the boards and may be affecting his shot as well. Both will be in the lineup tonight however.
The O Dome should be rocking tonight, the orange beards should be flowing, and expect the battered, bruised, and depleted Gators to continue their recent run of success against the Bulldogs.
Tipoff from the O’Connell Center is 7 pm eastern and will be broadcast live on ESPNU.