Florida Stays Hot With Win Over Milwaukee

It was all Gators all the time on Thursday night as Florida led from the jump and only stepped on the gas further as the game went on beating the Milwaukee Panthers 81-45. Milwaukee, a middle-of-the-pack Horizon League team, was already in tough playing on the road in Gainesville and was without a pair of key backcourt players due to injury and they walked into a tough situation. Florida gave it all, particularly on the defensive end, holding the Panthers to 32% from the field. Yes, this was a game Florida was heavily favored to win, but they took care of business and never lost focus, playing good basketball and coasting to a solid win.

 

Staying Hot

 

Colin Castleton has had a tremendous start to the season with great games against Elon and Florida State and he continued the dominance against Milwaukee with 19 points and 10 rebounds despite having an easy night minutes wise due to the points spread. Most of his work was done on block, getting one on one post up opportunities and going to work where he finished with layups and hook shots while also drawing a number of fouls. It’s also worth noting that despite the fact Milwaukee is a mid-major team they have legitimate size and rolled out two seven-footers (Moses Bol and Samba Kane) to battle Castleton, so it wasn’t like he was beating up on smaller players. Castleton has been a leader in both attitude and on-court performance to start the season and that has been just what the Gators ordered.

 

Boost Off The Bench

 

Charleston Southern transfer Phlandrous Fleming has been getting better in each game and he had his best performance against Milwaukee finishing with 12 points off the bench while hitting 2 of 6 three-point attempts. Not only was he providing offensive production but he was a terror on the defensive end whether clamping down on a ball handler or using his length to occupy passing lanes. So far Mike White has seen Fleming as a contributor off the bench, but it’s likely Florida’s closing lineups will feature the versatile wing.

 

Star Focus

 

An incredible 39 NBA scouts representing 22 NBA teams were at the game in Gainesville, primarily to see Milwaukee freshman Patrick Baldwin Jr. who chose the Panthers to play for his father. The Gators are the first high major competition he has seen this year, so it was an important game in the eyes of scouts. At times he generated offense out of nothing with his ball skills and finesse at 6’10” but the Gators largely kept him in check as he finished with 13 points on 6-15 shooting. There are a few games in Florida’s schedule where they’ll have to focus on a single star (see Scotty Pippen Jr. at Vanderbilt) so this was a good test for their defensive structure in those settings.

 

First Of Many

 

Freshman Kowacie Reeves, fresh off an unfortunate bout with the flu, was able to get in the game in the second half and hit a three-pointer, his first points as a Gator. The top-50 recruit has great size at 6’7” and fantastic shooting touch, and while the start to his college career has been tempered he is likely to do great things at Florida. This basket is going to be the first of many. 

 

Final Thoughts

 

It’s always tough to have many takeaways from a dominant win over a mid-major opponent but the Gators did far more than cruise by a Horizon League opponent. They treated every defensive possession with importance, and they continued to fight in transition and on the offensive glass. All in all a great night for the Gators who maintain their momentum from a solid start to the season.

 

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.

1 COMMENT

  1. One area of growth I have seen in Castleton is the personal fouls.
    So far this year he has not been handcuffs by ticky tack fouls in the first couple of minutes in the game.
    I don’t know if it is coaching (keeping him out of the post) so not to put him in a precarious position or he just recognizing how getting fouls keeps him out the game.

    This has been so huge in his points, rebounds and blocks and it just keeps him in the flow.
    Not coming out of the game just 6 minutes in and then not getting back on the court until the second half.

    This is huge.