Florida basketball score, takeaways: Colin Castleton, Gators surge late to beat South Florida in Sunrise

By Adam Silverstein
December 18, 2021
Florida basketball score, takeaways: Colin Castleton, Gators surge late to beat South Florida in Sunrise

Image Credit: GatorsMBK / Twitter

It was another successful outing for the Florida Gators in South Florida at the 2021 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic as the Gators pulled away late in the second half for a 66-55 win over the South Florida Bulls at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise. With the win, UF improved to 18-4 all-time while making its 22nd appearance in the event.

It was another in a string of similar games for head coach Mike White’s squad with the Gators struggling to shoot the ball consistently. Though Florida has improved its efficiency from long range over the last couple of contests, that has come with far less-effective shooting inside the arc.

Let’s take a look at what happened as Florida pulled off a victory over another Sunshine State opponent.

It was over when … the Gators bounced back from a dry spell that saw a huge lead dissipate with a 9-1 run to take an 11-point lead with 4 minutes left in the game. Florida had upped its advantage to 16 points early in the second half, but South Florida chipped away with an extended 16-4 stretch to trail by just three midway through the period.

First half focus: UF started 1 of 9 from the field and looked completely out of shorts, coughing the ball up on nearly every other possession. However, as the half wore on, the Gators found some consistency. A 17-2 run to end the opening 20 minutes pushed Florida ahead by 12 despite no single player starring. There were only four total fouls called in the half with just two free throws attempted.

Exceptional efforts: Senior forward Colin Castleton was inconsistent throughout the game but finished with team-highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds for a double double despite going just 3 of 9 from the field. Castleton scored eight of 13 points during a key stretch late in the second half that put the Gators up for good. Senior F Anthony Duruji was aggressive throughout the game, making key plays on both ends. He finished only second to Castleton on the glass with nine boards plus 11 points on 2 of 4 shooting both from 3-point range and inside the arc. Redshirt senior G Phlandrous Fleming Jr., who got the start Saturday, scored 12 points on 2 of 3 shooting from downtown.

Important injury: Redshirt senior guard Brandon McKissic fell hard on a layup attempt late in the second half with the back of his head flying backwards into a stanchion under the basket. McKissic was clearly in pain and eventually got up slowly with the help of trainers but was unable to shoot his free throws. He was shown squeezing his hand on the bench and will likely be tested after the game for a concussion as he did not return.

Odds and ends: Florida improved to 18-4 all-time in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic … the Gators are now 19-5 all-time agains the Bulls, but the teams had not played since 2002 … the Gators improved to 43-3 when allowing fewer than 60 points under White … UF is 6-1 this season when winning the rebounding battle, which it did in dominant fashion, 45-27 (18-7 offensive) vs. USF … the Gators led for 25:52 of the 40-minute game despite shooting just 39% from the field and committing 17 turnovers.

What it means / what’s next? Ultimately, this win is irrelevant to Florida’s season given it was expected to come out on top. UF is still reeling with a 2-3 record in its last five games, but it will get a chance to close its nonconference schedule with back-to-back wins as it will be heavily favored over Stony Brook on Wednesday. That game will air at 2 p.m. ET exclusively on ESPN+ and SEC Network+. The Gators will then get a week off before beginning SEC play prior to the end of 2021.

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