'We Rediscovered Our Love and Joy for Basketball'

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Make no mistake, the Florida Gators will have their hands full Tuesday night when they face Alabama at Coleman Coliseum. Three nights ago, the Crimson Tide went to Tennessee and basically dominated the seventh-ranked Volunteers, preseason favorites to win the Southeastern Conference, and now are home and no doubt beaming at a chance to stake a claim to sole possession of first place in the league. It’ll take everything the Gators have not just to win the game, but be in the game. 

And that’s exactly what the Gators — these rejuvenated, thankful and grateful Gators — are expected to give. 

“We rediscovered our love and joy for basketball,” junior shooting guard Noah Locke said this week. “It was all kind of missing there for a while.” 

[Read senior writer Chris Harry‘s “Pregame Stuff” setup here]

By now, everyone knows about and empathizes with the altogether unique adversity the UF basketball team dealt with following the stunning collapse of forward Keyontae Johnson at the outset of its Dec. 11 game at Florida State. The Gators were frightened for their friend and teammate. They were emotional. And, frankly, they were in no mood to deal with basketball. 

The days that followed — with

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