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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Florida men’s basketball holds off Georgia’s late comeback in Saturday’s home win

The Gators got back in the win column Saturday after a 70-63 home win over Georgia

<p>Junior Colin Castleton battles in the post against two Georgia defenders Saturday. Castleton led the Gators with 14 points in a winning effort</p>

Junior Colin Castleton battles in the post against two Georgia defenders Saturday. Castleton led the Gators with 14 points in a winning effort

Up six with 27 seconds to play, Florida guard Tre Mann sent Georgia forward P.J. Horne to the line with a chance to bring the Bulldogs within four points. 

Horne knocked down just one from the line and Florida guard Tyree Appleby sunk both from the charity stripe to clinch the game for the Gators. 

Following Tuesday’s road loss to Arkansas, Florida beat Georgia for the second time in four weeks Saturday afternoon 70-63.

Florida forward Colin Castleton, Appleby and Mann dropped 40 points combined. Castleton was the Gators’ top scorer with 14 points, shooting 5-5 from the floor. Appleby and Mann each contributed 13 points.

Florida’s shots started falling about halfway through the first half. Trailing by one point after a three-minute scoring drought, the Gators retaliated with 13 points and took an early 20-8 lead. Appleby’s second three of the game led to six straight Mann points before guard Ques Glover poured in four more.

With six minutes remaining, Florida guard Noah Locke hit two three pointers in under a minute and  yielded the Gators an 18-point advantage — its largest lead of the day. Locke reached a new milestone as his second three marked his 200th as a Gator.

Georgia guard Sahvir Wheeler, who scored just 10 points against Florida a month ago, carried the Bulldogs offensively. Following a 12-point first half, Wheeler dropped 15 more in the second half to finish with a career-high 27 points.

Nearing halftime, Appleby managed an off-balance pass to Locke, who hit a buzzer-beating corner three to give the Gators a commanding 37-23 lead entering the half. 

After shooting 50% from three in the first half, Florida shot just 1-13 from beyond the arc in the second half. This allowed the Bulldogs to outscore the Gators by seven points.

But Castleton provided the spark the Gators needed in the second half. The 6-foot-11-inch junior exploded for a 12-point half while collecting six rebounds and rejecting three shots. 

“I wish we would’ve gotten Colin deeper touches and more touches,” head coach Mike White said. “I thought Georgia did a very good job negating, and the fact that he only took five shots fell in their favor.” 

Seesawing possessions stalled Georgia’s comeback until a pivotal jump ball granted the Bulldogs the basketball down 11 with about two minutes  remaining. An ensuing Georgia layup cut the deficit to single digits before Florida guard Scottie Lewis answered with a layup.

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A pair of Bulldog free throws and a layup made it a six-point game, but Appleby delivered with clutch free throws down the stretch to secure the Gators’ seventh conference win this season. 

Florida now jumps Tennessee in the SEC standings as the No. 4 team.

The Gators, who average 14.4 turnovers per game, committed 10 turnovers in the final 13 minutes of the game. “Turnovers continue to haunt us,” White said. “We’ve got to be tougher with the basketball, we’ve got to make better decisions.”

With only three games left until the SEC Tournament, the Gators will head to Auburn to take on the Tigers Tuesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. and will air on ESPN.

Contact Griffin Foll at gfoll@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @GriffinFoll

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Griffin Foll

Griffin Foll is a sophomore at UF studying journalism sports and media. He is one of The Alligator's women’s basketball beat writers. Griffin is also a UF softball beat reporter for ChompTalk.com and contributes weekly articles for ESPN Gainesville.


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