Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators go cold in road loss to Mississippi State

By Adam Silverstein
January 16, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators go cold in road loss to Mississippi State

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

Another winable road game, another loss for Florida Gators basketball (6-4, 3-3 SEC), which moved to .500 in league play following a 72-69 loss on Saturday against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Though the three-point loss makes the game appear close, Florida was down double digits frequently in the second half and went into such a scoring lull that it was difficult to battle back.

The Gators were bludgeoned in the post throughout the game as the Bulldogs used their size and effort to get easy scores, rebounds and additional opportunities at points. UF will again try to regroup and build off of this defeat, though it has yet another quick turnaround coming up on Tuesday.

What can we glean from Florida’s latest loss? Let’s take a look at some Fastbreak takeaways from the game.

It was over when … Mississippi State went on a short 8-2 run to lead by 11 points with 1:36 to play. Florida missed seven straight field goals over 6:45 late in the game, watching the contest slip away despite having previously cut its deficit to five points. Though UF did trim MSU’s lead down to three in the final seconds due to a flurry of steals and fouls, sophomore point guard Tre Mann air-balled a potential game-tying buzzer beater. The Gators trailed the entire second half after a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes, largely because the Bulldogs were dominant in the post. MSU outscored UF 52-30 in the paint and bludgeoned the visitors on boards 47-26.

Important injury: Junior center Colin Castleton, who has been the Gators’ best player with junior forward Keyontae Johnson sidelined, appeared to seriously injured his left ankle by rolling it while coming down for a rebound with 5 minutes left in the game. At the time, Florida was down just two points. However, Castleton was able to return to the floor afterward, though he was not particularly effective down the stretch.

Exceptional efforts: Castleton was again impressive with 16 points and seven rebounds on an efficient 7 of 13 shooting, but it was junior point guard Tyree Appleby who was particularly clutch with a team-high 20 points on 11 of 11 shooting from the free throw line. Sophomore PG Tre Mann was the only other player in double digits with 14 points, but he made jut 6 of 17 shots and had four turnovers to his six assists.

Odds and ends: Florida is now 65-52 all-time against Mississippi State with a 23-36 mark on the road and 3-3 record under White … the Gators are 1-4 when trailing at the half this season and 1-3 in true road games … UF is 62-64 under White when scoring 79 points or fewer compared to 52-3 when scoring 80+ … Florida is 0-2 this season when scoring less than 70 points and 3-3 when allowing 70 or more … the Gators forced 15 turnovers but only converted them into 11 points … the Bulldogs won the second-chance scoring battle 18-4 thanks to a 15-6 advantage on the offensive glass … Mississippi State made just one three and shot 54% from the line … junior G Noah Locke is shooting 37.7% from three this season, nearly 5% worse than his average entering 2020-21 … only three Florida player shot free throws, and they were a combined 14 of 16 from the charity stripe … sophomore G Scottie Lewis missed his second straight game due to an undisclosed diagnosis … the Gators are now 6-4 under White in black uniforms

What it means: The Gators again showed some fight late in the game, but their deficit was too great to expect a comeback. Mann’s shot at the buzzer was awful, again showing a weakness in White’s end-of-game strategy and play calling. Florida lost a completely winnable game on the road and now sits just one game above .500 for the season. While it is without its best player, it is also losing games it should not.

What’s next? Florida will return home for a quick turnaround as it hosts Tennessee on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Gators are 57-76 all-time against the Volunteers with four straight losses in the series. UT is 9-1 on the season.

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