Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators rally from 19 down in shocking comeback at Florida State

By OnlyGators.com Staff
November 18, 2022
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators rally from 19 down in shocking comeback at Florida State

Image Credit: UAA

Faced with their largest deficit and most adversity of the season, the Florida Gators showed gumption and guile under new head coach Todd Golden, rallying from 19 points down — 17 at halftime — for a stunning 76-67 win over the Florida State Seminoles. It was UF’s first in in Tallahassee, Florida, since 2012.

The Gators outscored the ‘Noles 50-24 in the second half, using a 24-2 run as part of a 33-5 scoring stretch to convert a 17-point deficit into an 11-point lead that the visitors never relinquished. Redshirt senior forward Colin Castleton starred once again, scoring 25+ points and grabbing 9+ rebounds in his third straight game this season.

Let’s take a look at what went down Friday night with Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … redshirt senior guard Kyle Lofton made two free throws to put Florida back up eight points with 36 seconds to play, staving off a last-ditch effort from Florida State aided by three gimmies off a fouled 3-point shot one play prior.

The Gators faced a 17-point deficit coming out of halftime but put together a truly stunning run to open the period, completely flipping the game on its head. Florida outscored FSU 33-5 over the first 9:18 of the period, using a 24-2 run to take an 11-point lead at 59-48. Castleton scored 13 points in that stretch as the Gators forced eight ‘Noles turnovers without coughing up the ball once. FSU did respond with a 10-4 burst, trimming UF’s lead to five, but the Gators scored the next six points and never allowed the hosts to get that close again.

First half focus: In what may well be the worst 20 minutes of basketball Florida ultimately plays this season, it opened 3 of 20 from the field and 0 of 8 from long range to go down by 13 points early as Florida State took off on a 10-0 run. The Gators went without a field goal for a 9:18 stretch and trailed by as many as 19 points in the period. Beyond that, they committed six turnovers and eight fouls while playing atrocious defense without a single backcourt player making more than one basket in the opening half. Ultimately, UF trailed by 17 at the break after shooting 27.6% from the field (8/29) and 8.3% from beyond the arc (1/12).

Exceptional efforts: Golden ensured Castleton got his touches over the latter 20 minutes, and it paid off massively for the Gators. The big man scored 19 of his game-high 25 points (9/14 FG) in the second half with a game-high nine rebounds to boot. He is now averaging 29.3 points and 10 boards across his last three games. Steady again alongside Castleton was sophomore G Will Richard, who posted 13 points on 4 of 9 shooting with six rebounds of his own. Junior G Trey Bonham was key for UF with 11 points, seven boards and three assists off the bench, those he was inefficient as a shooter (2/8 FG, 1/5 3PT) doing most of his damage at the line (6/7 FT).

Odds and ends: Florida improved to 45-29 all-time against Florida State, winning its second straight in the series after dropping the prior seven meetings … the Gators won in Tallahassee for the first time since 2012 … UF outrebounded FSU 42-34 … a thin ‘Noles team struggled to keep up with the Gators holding a 23-6 scoring edge off the bench … the teams combined to make just 6 of 33 triples … Florida drained twice as many baskets in the second half (16) as it did in the first (eight) on a similar number of attempts … despite starting the game and making a big 3-pointer early, sophomore G Kowacie Reeves played just nine minutes … redshirt senior G Myreon Jones went 0/3 FG and is now 0/8 FG on the season … sophomore F Alex Fudge did this …

What it means: Florida showed fight, toughness and relentless effort … in the second half, putting together a competent 20 minutes of basketball after looking anything but through the opening period. The Gators were far from perfect down the stretch, but rallying from such a deficit on the road against a power conference opponent — let alone a rival — is an extremely difficult task. More than anything, this comeback proved Golden has the ear of his players. They listened to his halftime adjustments and adapted accordingly. Still, Florida remains far too reliant on Castleton; it is struggling to get consistent guard play, and Jones’ irrelevance mixed with Reeves’ disappearance Friday night is a significant concern.

What’s next? With a taste of road basketball in their mouths, the Gators will compete in the Phil Night Legacy next week where they open against Xavier before facing some combination of Duke or Oregon State and then Gonzaga, Purdue, West Virginia or Portland State. All games will be played in Portland.

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