Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators blast Milwaukee as Colin Castleton stars again

By Adam Silverstein
November 18, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Gators blast Milwaukee as Colin Castleton stars again
Basketball

Image Credit: GatorsMBK on Twitter

Though No. 24 Florida Gators basketball was heavily favored entering Thursday’s game against the Milwaukee Panthers, the hosts were told to watch out for Patrick Baldwin Jr., an NBA prospect and the son of Milwaukee’s coach, who could potential go off and create some angst inside the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Whether Florida heard the talking heads or not, the Gators proved they had nothing at all to be concerned about in an 81-45 drubbing of the Panthers.

Florida dominated Milwaukee in each period Thursday but put together an absolutely absurd start to the second half to cruise to its third straight victory to open the 2021-22 college basketball season. The newly-ranked Gators can now concentrate on working on themselves ahead of a tough neutral-site booking next week following what can only be described as an extremely positive start to the campaign.

What went down and what did we learn as Florida improved to 3-0? Keep on reading for Fastbreak Takeaways from the game.

It was over when … the Gators opened the second half on a 32-4 run, running the Panthers off the court while taking a commanding and game-high 39-point lead more than midway through the period. Senior point guard Tyree Appleby contributed a pair of 3s, but it was a total team effort with a relentless scoring attack and tremendous defense that allowed just a single basket to Milwaukee over the first 12:12 of the period. Though the visitors did fight back to reduce their deficit, the Gators answered in kind to complete their dominant victory.

First half focus: UF was unstoppable in the paint early, hitting 10 of 13 shots while simultaneously starting cold from long range (0 of 8). Consecutive 3-pointers by senior forward Anthony Duruji and redshirt senior guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr. broke that drought as part of a 12-2 run that pushed the Gators ahead by 14. Florida got sloppy late, however, failing to make a basket over the final 4:10 of the half while seeing their lead reduced to 11 before the break.

Exceptional efforts: Senior F Colin Castleton was outstanding once again, scoring a team-high 19 points on 9 of 17 shooting with 10 rebounds, two steals and a block in just 25 minutes; he was removed from the court in the second half with UF substantially ahead. On a day in which NBA scouts were in the O’Dome to watch Baldwin Jr., it was Castleton who had the real star-making performance. (Baldwin scored 13 points, hitting just 6 of 15 shots and missing all three of his tries from downtown.)

Appleby was also tremendous, particularly from beyond the arc; he made 4 of 7 triples for 14 points with six boards and five assists. Duruji and Fleming each finished with 12 points as Duruji added seven rebounds as part of a fantastic effort on both ends of the court.

Odds and ends: Florida led for 38:54 and never trailed … UF had 21 assists on 32 baskets … the Gators dominated scoring in the paint (40-26), off the bench (22-18), on the fastbreak (17-13), on second chances (10-4) and off turnovers (18-8) … senior G Myreon Jones excelled in the first half, finishing with seven points, four boards and five dimes

Florida improved to 2-0 all-time against Milwaukee with the lone prior meeting coming in the 2006 NCAA Tournament … the Gators are now 4-0 against Horizon League teams … UF is 55-3 when scoring 80+ points and 40-3 when allowing 59 points or fewer under White

What it means / what’s next? The Gators took care of business Thursday but did so in a way that exceeded expectations with an astounding 36-point victory. This is clearly a team not to underestimate this season, though competition will be ramped up substantially next week as UF faces the most adversity it has yet this season with a couple quick turnaround showdowns. Florida will prepare for two games in three days in the Fort Myers Tip-Off against California on Monday and either Ohio State or Seton Hall on Wednesday.

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