Florida might have been off for nearly three weeks before returning to the court but they didn’t show any signs of rust, easily dispatching the Vanderbilt Commodores by a score of 91-72. Long layoffs usually mean some sloppy play particularly on the offensive end but that wasn’t the case at all for the Gators as they had a constant barrage of scoring attacks on Vanderbilt that yielded easy bucket after easy bucket. With five players in double digits scoring it was a balanced performance all around for the Gators and one that should have the team encouraged as SEC play continues.
Punctuating Florida’s dominant performance was a career high 23 points from Colin Castleton who also added in 5 rebounds and two blocks. What made his output so impressive was that it was on 11-13 shooting from the field, about as efficient as a center can be. He never played outside of his comfort zone and most of his baskets were dunks off drop off passes though he also contributed some put backs on offensive rebounds and a few post ups when he got deep position. It looks like the Gators got a gem in this Michigan transfer and he’s bringing a high level of quality to the middle of the floor.
The Gators didn’t play a perfect game defensively as they allowed Vanderbilt to get a number of open threes but when it came to their energy level you couldn’t have asked for much more. Whether the Gators were in their full court press or simply in their half court alignment they were flying around the court getting their hands on everything resulting in a 9 steal, 9 block performance. Those 9 blocks erased what easily could have been a double digit point total for Vanderbilt and the steals gave Florida an opportunity to do just what they most desire–push the ball in transition. Scottie Lewis had 3 blocks and a steal while Anthony Duruji contributed 3 blocks and 2 steals which set the tone for Florida’s defensive commitment.
Anthony Duruji played easily his best game as a Gator moving into the starting role vacated for the time being by Keyontae Johnson. Finishing with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals he was the most athletic player on the floor and was able to take advantage of it, physically overmatching his opponents on a number of occasions. Also encouraging was the fact he hit his only three point attempt, a smooth release from the corner that caught nothing but net. To start the season Duruji looked extremely uncomfortable and borderline unplayable but now that he’s had a few games and a number of practices under his belt he looks like a valuable piece for the Gators.
This game went just about as good as you could have hoped for the Gators. There weren’t really signs of rust, and the team looked crisp offensively moving the ball and having multiple players show they can be playmakers. Defensively they also had some really good moments and were overall pretty good on that end, even playing in the full court press Mike White wants to utilize for stretches in the first half. Vanderbilt could very well be the worst team in the SEC and that’s something that needs to be considered when putting this game into context but the Gators played the game in front of them about as good as they could have and they have to feel good going into their next game against an LSU team that’s definitely a step up from Vanderbilt in terms of talent.