Florida knew it wouldn’t be easy to overcome the bump against rival Florida State and end a seven-game losing streak in the series. Coach Mike White said on Friday he hoped the game was close in the final five to 10 minutes of the game, giving them a chance to come out and close in front of an electric crowd at home.
With a 13-0 run around the 10-minute mark of the second half, the Gators (2-0) finally created some distance in an otherwise back-and-forth affair with the No.20 Seminoles. (1-1), refuel on the section to stop the slide and give the trainer Mike White his first victory against the FSU coach Leonard Hamilton with a completely convincing 71-55 result.
It was one of the most impressive performances of White’s seven-year tenure at UF.
“This year it’s a different team. We have a different mentality”, great man Colin Castleton noted. “We really didn’t care what they were going to bring, it was about us and how hard we were going to play, how tough we were, how many hearts we had. for bringing more of that than they did. and it helped us achieve victory. “
While he’s worked with a largely new group of characters this season, White put together a team that looked completely committed from start to finish on both sides. And it was the effort that helped start the big race that got Florida away.
“We have good individual defenders. (Brandon McKissic) and (Flemish phlandre) are great individual advocates, ”White said. ” They are. They’re tough, they’re physical, they’re relentless, they’re proud of defense, they’re determined to be good defenders. They hold each other accountable. They hold themselves accountable. They are physical. They are older. These guys are good defenders.
“CJ Felder is such a talented defender as we have in this team. He’s a guy who didn’t register a ton of minutes today, sure, but he’s going to have games where I think he can show how good he is defensively. “
The Gators fought for every loose ball, embodied by Anthony Durji dive onto the bridge near midfield to fight for a loose ball in the middle of the second half. It was reminiscent of the kind of effort that the former Central Florida Patrick Young, who also wore the No.4 in orange and blue, did steadily in UF’s magical, undefeated run through the SEC and eventually all the way to the Final Four in 2013-14.
Duruji didn’t even really get the ball on his diving effort, but he impacted the play enough that possession ended in a violation of the FSU’s shot clock. A 43-42 lead for the Gators quickly turned into an extended 26-6 UF run to help open things up.
In a series that FSU has long dominated over the past eight years, it was Florida that really turned up the heat with a block party in the O’Dome.
Duruji competed with a few trailing blocks on the boards, while Castleton did it all in a stat-packed double-double, something he gets used to delivering quite regularly.
Castleton tallied 15 points, 16 rebounds (a career high) and 6 blocks in the game, while Duruji had 15 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.
“It’s really huge for us,” said Duruji. “It’s extra points there, it’s extra possessions. They can’t handle (Castleton) there, and when everyone was drawn to him, it led to some easy kick-outs, three opened and we were able to reverse shots. “
Their efforts on the boards led to a 17-9 advantage over Florida in the offensive rebounds, giving the Gators plenty of second and third chance chances. That, in turn, allowed Florida to overcome a relatively poor night shot (24 of 62 from the ground, 8 of 28 at 3 points) and then made worse by extra effort on the defensive side.
“I think the most important thing in races is defense, just being able to sit and keep and bounce,” Castleton said. “It was our biggest key to this game, it was just being able to bounce, block and just be proud to catch a bounce.”
The Gators forced 17 Seminoles turnovers and stalked FSU throughout the afternoon, allowing few easy looks.
White also shortened his bench considerably, with just six players playing more than six minutes in the game. It allowed the veterans – Florida added three veteran transfer custodians who each played a big part in the victory – to pick up the pace in the game.
“Phlan, we didn’t know he was going to play until I asked (coach) Duke (Werner) with 10 minutes left on the clock (before the game starts), ”White said. “He literally hasn’t done anything for the past two days. I didn’t even shoot this morning. He watched the practice in the stands with a mask on. He showed a lot of heart.
“He gave us 22 really solid minutes with very little conditioning and reps.”
With a big win in the bag, Florida will be looking to keep the mojo going. The team returns to action on Tuesday when they host Milwaukee in a game that begins at 6 p.m. at the O’Dome, with a broadcast on SEC Network +.
“It’s been seven years since we beat (FSU). It was a really big win for us,” said Duruji. “I think that can lay the foundation for the rest of the season, but we have to keep building on that. It means so much. I’m happy for my teammates, the coaching staff, everyone.”