Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators survive Ole Miss in OT as Colin Castleton shines in return

By Adam Silverstein
February 5, 2022
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators survive Ole Miss in OT as Colin Castleton shines in return

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Florida Gators basketball received a boost Saturday when senior forward Colin Castleton made an unadvertised return from a lingering shoulder injury against the Ole Miss Rebels. Using Castleton’s clearance as motivation, Florida rallied in the second half and ultimately beat Ole Miss 62-57 in overtime at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.

The Gators took their usual lumps in the opening 20 minutes, falling behind significantly as they failed to create any consistent offense. They eventually concentrated on taking higher-percentage shots and forcing the ball to Castleton, which resulted in him leading the team in scoring and pushing Florida to a key victory that may help the program build momentum down the stretch of the season.

It will be key for head coach Mike White to use this game — and others that came before it — as a lesson for the program, but that’s been said before and the Gators still simply enter each game with the exact same mindset. It’s one thing to be able to pull out come-from-behind victories, but wouldn’t it be nice if Florida didn’t have to rely on that every time the ball was tipped?

What went down on Saturday in the House of Horrors? Let’s take a look at UF’s latest win with Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … senior point guard Tyree Appleby made two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining in overtime to lock up the win. Appleby hit 6 of 7 free throws to score nearly half of the Gators’ 14 points in the extra period. Florida led by as many as nine points after a 3-pointer from senior guard Myreon Jones, but Ole Miss chipped away at its deficit as the hosts made numerous miscues down the stretch. The Rebels were down just three with 14.4 seconds left, though the Gators were able to hang on from there.

Florida trailed by nine at the break but opened the second half on an 11-1 run as Ole Miss started 0 of 10 from the field. That gave the Gators their first lead since the 11:56 mark of the opening period. Later, the Rebels answered with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 48 with 30 seconds remaining as UF wasted numerous possessions taking low-percentage shots and failed to get a final attempt before the regulation buzzer. Appleby slipped while trying to set himself up for a shot at the last second.

First half focus: Ole Miss used runs of 11-0 and 8-0 to thrice lead by nine in the opening period. Florida again took more 3-pointers (13) than 2-pointers (nine) and only made a pair of triples as part of its 36.4% shooting for the first 20 minutes. The Rebels outrebounded the Gators 24-11 (9-0 offensive) and dominated second chance scoring 11-0.

Exceptional efforts: Castleton scored a game-high 17 points in his return, hitting 6 of 12 shots and 5 of 7 free throws. He added a team-high seven rebounds. Appleby went a pitiful 1 of 10 from the field but scored 10 points thanks with all seven of his gimmies coming in OT. His game-high 10 assists (out of 13 for the entire team) partially made up for his shooting woes … but not entirely.

Odds and ends: Florida improved to 59-48 all-time against Ole Miss with a 42-12 mark in the O’Dome and 7-3 record under White … UF is now 8-3 in overtime under White, 1-0 this season … Florida improved to 45-3 when allowing fewer than 60 points under White …

the Gators were badly outrebounded (44-32, 14-4 offensive) and dominated on second-chance opportunities (14-2), but the Rebels went just 5 of 21 from the floor in the second half to open the door … Florida dominated paint (24-16) and bench (23-15) scoring, adding 15 points off 14 Ole Miss turnovers … UF only led for 13:43, but that included the final 12:06 of regulation and overtime … Jones was not a volume shooter, but his two treys came at opportune times for UF late in the second half and overtime; he finished with 8 points on 2 of 4 shooting from deep … redshirt senior G Phlandrous Fleming Jr. was similarly inefficient but posted 10 points (4/11 FG) and seven rebounds

What it means: While it’s not a resume-boosting win for Florida, it was nevertheless a needed confidence booster not only for the program as a whole but Castleton individually given his extended absence. However, the Gators once again had to dig themselves out of a significant deficit as they continued to play terrible basketball across a game’s first half. They jacked 3-pointers, failed to move the ball on offense and were simply inefficient. It’s mind-boggling how the same problems plague the team every game without White making a significant adjustment to ensure his team takes higher-percentage shots and gives itself a chance to win without needing to climb out of a pit in the latter period. Florida simply will not win games like this in the postseason or against better competition.

What’s next? The Gators get back-to-back home games for just the second time this year when they host a long-time rival on Wednesday night. Florida will tip off vs. Georgia at 6:30 p.m. in a game that will air live nationally on SEC Network.

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