In a gritty performance of defensive execution and timely shotmaking the Florida Gators exorcised their demons and finally, for the first time since 2013, beat their rival Seminoles coming away with a 71-55 victory. It was a tight matchup for most of the game until midway through the second half where the Gators started coming away with offensive rebound after offensive rebound allowing for high percentage shots and points that Florida State couldn’t match on the other end. Florida played with an intensity and confidence that we haven’t seen from recent rosters, and perhaps this game signifies just how tough an out these Gators will be all season long.
Winning In The Trenches
A big part of the reason that Florida State has dominated the rivalry over the last seven years is the fact that they have been taller, longer, tougher, and more athletic, and that usually means they do all the dirty work better than Florida and it has allowed them to come away with a bunch of wins. However, that wasn’t the case on Sunday. The Gators were the dominant team on the offensive glass coming away with 17 O-boards to only 9 for the Seminoles. It seemed like nearly every one of those offensive rebounds resulted in a layup, something that was huge for a Florida team that still had some trouble solving the Florida State defense. It was Colin Castleton that was doing the most inspired work on the offensive glass coming away with 8 offensive rebounds while Phlandrous Fleming and Anthony Duruji each contributed three as well
Leading The Way
Colin Castleton entered the game as Florida’s emotional leader and arguably one of the most important on the court performers and he played to the best of his ability on Sunday finishing with 15 points, 16 rebounds, and 6 blocks. The 16 rebounds might be the most impressive part of his game considering how long and athletic the Seminoles are. Each one of those 16 rebounds were in traffic against physical frontcourt players and they represent 16 incredible displays of heart. I’m not sure when the last time Florida State has had 6 shots blocked by the same player, considering they’re so tall and athletic they hardly get their shots blocked, so that also speaks to the pure excellence of Castleton’s game.
Mike White Basketball
Mike White has always been known for his defense, though over the last couple of years that hasn’t exactly been a strength of the Gators. However, against Florida State, the Gators played one of the toughest defensive games in all of the Mike White tenure, flying around the defensive side of the court and stifling Florida State’s opportunities to score. Sure, there was the occasional breakdown that led to some open threes that the Seminoles were able to capitalize on, but generally Florida was quick to the ball, active with their hands, and dedicated to the defensive glass. Florida was clearly undersized and not as athletic as the Seminoles but they played with heart and intelligence and it led to a fantastic defensive performance.
This is a tone-setting win for the Gators who now have the belief that they can play with and beat just about any team in the country. You wouldn’t have known that the Seminoles had won seven straight matchups with the way that the confidence that the Gators came out with, and maybe that is one of the positives of bringing in transfers. These incoming players haven’t had to feel the sting of multiple losses to the Seminoles and perhaps they didn’t have that inherent fear that some recent Florida teams have had. Whatever it was, this was a stellar performance by the Gators overall and hopefully one they can build off of.