Finale: No. 23 Florida 80, California 60
No. 23 FLORIDA 80, CALIFORNIA 60
WHAT HAPPENED: Senior striker Colin Castleton had 16 points and eight rebounds while the senior point guard in his fifth year Appleby tires earned 15 more points to take four Gators to double digits on Monday night when UF won the Bears in 23rd place in the opening game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena 80-60. Castleton failed in his search for a third double-double in a row but made six of his eleven shots from the ground. Appleby hit four of his eight shots, all seven of his free throws, and added three assists. Senior caretaker Myreon Jones had 13 points and backup Swingman Phlandrous Fleming Jr. had 11 from the bank. In the end, 10 different gators found the scoring column on the way to shooting 51.9 percent, including 8-for-19 from the 3-point line (0.421). The Bears shot 44 percent, made just two 3s, and achieved 18 turnover (compared to just seven assists) that resulted in 19 UF points. The first over 10 minutes were played at Cal’s methodical pace, with the Gators missing 11 of their first 17 field goal attempts in a game tied at 17 before UF settled on the scoreboard by reaching the free-throw line. The Florida lead was five minutes to go at halftime when four free throws from point guard Appleby and reserve center Jason Jitoboh, plus a 3-pointer from backup forward CJ fields the Gators accounted for the points in a mini run of 7-1. They were leading with a dozen just over three minutes from time when Jones hit the first of three straight 3-pointers that helped open a 19-point spread, 46-27, at break. UF even rose by 26 in the second half and never led less than 18, despite being generously substituted on in the second half.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Gators are 4-0 for the first time in four years and now have two important wins in their season opener. Not only will they get a chance on the third Wednesday, but they will likely face their best opponent yet. Continue reading.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Felder’s stats weren’t exactly erratic (8 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, plus 3 rebounds in 17 minutes), but for the first time this season he showed how his size, length and strength can affect a game. Remember, he only played two minutes in defeating Florida State and came into the season with just five points and seven rebounds. It will become more and more of a factor.
AMAZING STATISTICS: The Gators got 50 percent shooting in both halves: 50 in the first (13 of 26) and 53.8 in the second (14 of 26).
NEXT: Florida (4-0) moved into the tournament championship game on Wednesday night, where the Gators meet Ohio State (3-1). The Buckeyes, who fell out of the top 25 last week after losing to Cross-State enemy Xavier, won an opening game thriller against Seton Hall # 21 on Monday thanks to a 3-pointer from Guard Meechie Johnson Jr. with only 2.2 seconds of playing time. The Pirates (3-1), who stunned Michigan on the # 4 route last week, face Cal (2-3) in the tournament’s consolation game at 6pm. The championship game follows at 8:30 a.m.