Florida basketball score, takeaways: Castleton injury dampens dominant win over Ole Miss

By OnlyGators.com Staff
February 15, 2023
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Castleton injury dampens dominant win over Ole Miss

Image Credit: UAA

A few days after dropping a must-win game, the Florida Gators took care of business with a thorough 79-64 win over the Ole Miss Rebels at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators led by double digits at the end of each half, leading for the final 25:34 of the game.

Florida’s dominant victory was overshadowed due to a hand injury suffered by redshirt senior forward Colin Castleton, who has been the straw that stirs the drink for the team throughout the entire season. While the injury did not appear serious in the moment as it came from an opposing player brushing by Castleton, he did not return to the game with head coach Todd Golden uneasy about his status.

Let’s check out what went down in the Gators’ latest victory with Fastbreak Takeaways.

It was over when … redshirt senior guard Myreon Jones drained a 3-pointer to end a 9-2 run for Ole Miss, pushing Florida back ahead 14 points with 2:34 to play. Jones added another just under 2 minutes later as the Gators cruised to victory. Castleton injured his right hand midway through the half with his team up 10. Rather than fold in the moment, Florida immediately went on an 8-0 run to take a 16-point lead it pushed to a game-high 18 a few minutes later on another Jones triple.

First half focus: It was a rare offensive showcase for Florida in the opening 20 minute. The Gators made 67% of their field goals, 63% of their 3-pointers (5 of 8) and all six free throws to take a 39-29 lead on the Rebels. Florida also uncharacteristically ended the period on an 11-2 run to balloon its advantage at the break. Jones and sophomore G Kowacie Reeves each hit 2 of 3 triples, combining for 14 points with Jones adding five rebounds.

Exceptional efforts: Jones was not only Florida’s leading scorer with 15 points, he made key treys when it mattered in one of his best efforts of the season. He hit a career-best five triples (out of seven attempts) and grabbed eight rebounds, though he did commit four turnovers. Reeves and sophomore G Will Richard each finished with 13 points while hitting 50% of their 3-pointers, though Reeves was strangely just 1 of 5 from the charity stripe.

Important injury: Castleton’s ailing hand is obviously a concern. He has averaged 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.4 blocks over the last 12 games since the start of 2023 entering Wednesday night’s contest. Those averages balloon to 24.8 points and 9.5 boards over four games entering this showdown. Expecting Florida to come close to winning out with Castleton was already a major ask; the Gators doing so without him long term is a near-impossibility.

Odds & ends: Florida improved to 70-48 all-time against Ole Miss with a 43-12 record in the O’Dome and wins in eight of the last 11 meetings since 2016 … the Gators are now 11-2 when leading at halftime, 14-1 when leading with 5 minutes to play, 10-2 when shooting better than 45% from the field, 13-2 when outshooting their opponent, , 8-1 when shooting better than 40% from downtown, 11-2 when outshooting their opponent from downtown, 10-3 when winning the bench scoring battle, 8-4 coming off a loss

What it means: Nothing, really. This was another Quadrant 3 win for Florida, which does little to improve its nearly collapsed NCAA Tournament resume. The Gators are now 7-1 against Q3 teams (the loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday remaining a huge blemish) and 4-0 against Q4 teams while standing 3-11 against the first two quadrants. Castleton’s injury hangs over the entire game.

What’s next? With just five regular-season games left, Florida faces its best remaining opponents in succession over the next seven days. UF travels to Arkansas, who sits just outside the AP Top 25, on Saturday for a 2 p.m. ET tip off on ESPN2. Then it hosts Kentucky next Wednesday at 7 p.m. The former is a Quadrant 1 opportunity, while the latter is a Quadrant 2 chance for the Gators.

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