Florida (4-3) climbed back above the .500 mark in SEC play with a 61-59 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday night.
At one point, Florida led by 16 points, but Mississippi State mounted a monster comeback with an extended run that tied things up with 12 minutes left to play. The Gators outlasted the Bulldogs in the end, but it wasn’t the clean win that it should have been.
Colin Castleton had a rough night. He led all scorers with 13 points but shot just 35.7% from the field and wasn’t as effective on the glass or on defense as he usually is. Kowacie Reeves stepped up in the second half, though, draining a pair of crucial three-pointers that shifted the momentum slightly back in favor of Florida.
Three-point shooting was a strong point for the Gators tonight. Will Richard, in particular, was on fire in the first half, and the team finished the night shooting above 40% from beyond the arc. Without that kind of success, Florida would have dropped this game, and they simply can’t afford that after losing to Texas A&M twice.
The victory puts Florida back in the driver’s seat as conference play continues, but it’s hard to be optimistic about the team’s chances in the coming weeks. The Gators have games against Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee coming up, and a shaky win is hardly convincing enough to make them the betting favorites.
Still, it’s Florida’s first Quadrant 1 win of the season, and that will help come NCAA Tournament selection time. Even if Mississippi State ends up as a Quadrant 2 opponent at the end of the year, Florida lacks quality wins of any sort and will take what it can get right now.
Here are five takeaways from tonight’s game.
Gators get off to a hot start
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Florida took control of this one in the very beginning. After allowing the Bulldogs to score the first three points of the game, the Gators answered with an 11-point run to take a commanding lead through the first 3:31. Another 11-2 run put UF up by a…
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Author : Gators Wire
Publish date : 2023-01-22 04:21:08
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