Todd Golden’s squad picked up their 3rd straight SEC victory on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Missouri Tigers 73 to 64 inside the O’Connell Center.
The Gators improve to 10-7 (3-2 SEC) with the quad 2 victory over the 20th ranked team in college basketball.
The start of the game was eerily similar to Tuesday’s matchup against LSU. The Gators found themselves buried in an 11-0 hole after the first four minutes of play. Florida’s struggled coming out of the gate throughout the season. That’s something Golden will need to take a look at.
Suffocating first half defense allowed Florida to keep this game from getting out of hand. Missouri scored just 17 points over the next 15 minutes and 41 seconds. The Gators found themselves heading into the locker room tied at 28.
Florida’s 14 first half turnovers limited the Gators offense. The Gators attempted just 22 shots in the first 20 minutes, connecting on 9 of them (4-10 from 3-point range). The Tigers attempted 30 shots, connecting on 10 (1-9 from 3-point range).
The 2nd half was running at a faster pace with more scoring. Florida scored 45 2nd half points, taking care of the basketball in the process with just five 2nd half turnovers. Golden is not going to be pleased with 19 total turnovers, but the adjustment made after halftime was good enough to seal the victory.
The three-point shots were falling for the Florida Gators this afternoon, connecting on 10-23 attempts (43.5%) vs Missouri. The Tigers were ice cold from three, connecting on just 3-18 from beyond the arc (16.7%).
Colin Castleton led the Gators to victory once again, posting 16 points on 7-11 from the field, eclipsing 1,000 career points in the process. The 6-11 forward added 13 rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and three steals.
Will Richard is back to playing with a high level of confidence. The Belmont transfer led the Gators with 18 points, shooting 50% from three-point range (4-8).
Freshman guard Riley Kugel continues to show why Gainesville is excited about his future. He totaled 13 points on 4-6 from the field and 3-4 from three. The efficiency from the young guard is a promising sign moving forward. Kugel struggled handling the ball for the Gators, turning it over five times in the contest. The Orlando native added five rebounds to the stat sheet.
Kugel has his freshman moments, but his athleticism, work on the glass, and defensive instincts has Gator Nation raving about the 6-5, 207-pound guard. His improvement from game 1 to game 17 is significant.
Golden played with a much smaller rotation today, allowing just eight guys to see the floor. Jason Jitoboh did not see action off the bench. Golden went with Alex Fudge at the five when Castleton needed a break.
Trey Bonham played just eight minutes after making the start. Gator Country is looking into that situation.
Florida held Missouri under 70 points for fifth time this season. The Tigers are currently the #1 ranked offense in the SEC.
This was a crucial victory for the Gators’ hopes of postseason play. However, the Gators are going to need to find a quad 1 win on their schedule if they want to play basketball in March.
If the Gators continue to play elite defense, they will be a tough out for any team on their schedule.