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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Florida men's basketball tips off against Elon

UF hopes to carry its exhibition game momentum into the 2021-22 season

Florida basketball's Brandon McKissic pictured during a Nov. 1 exhibition game against Embry-Riddle.
Florida basketball's Brandon McKissic pictured during a Nov. 1 exhibition game against Embry-Riddle.

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team opens up the 2021-22 season and battles the Elon Phoenix Tuesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, the first-ever meeting between the squads. 

UF head coach Mike White’s team displayed its potential in an 80-57 exhibition win over Embry-Riddle Nov. 1. The group now looks to carry its momentum into the regular season. 

Florida’s four transfers pose potential threats everywhere, with a combined 3,882 career points for their previous Division I teams, second-most of any transfer class in the nation this season. 

Guard Brandon McKissic led the team with 20 points in the exhibition game. McKissic made his last five shots against ERAU. The reigning Summit League Defensive Player of the Year earned 25 minutes of playing time, the same as returning forward Colin Castleton.

Castleton, the 6-foot-11 star, is White’s difference-maker. The senior found himself on the preseason First-Team All-SEC and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award watch list.

White said his starting lineup will likely consist of at least three of the five from the exhibition game, which consisted of McKissic, Castleton,  Myreon Jones, Anthony Duruji and Phlandrous Fleming. The players’ starting dreams remain up in the air until the shootaround, when the lineup becomes official.

But the Phoenix offer stiff competition. Elon is predicted to finish sixth in the Colonial Athletic Association. Guard Hunter McIntosh was tabbed to the Preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association First Team, and redshirt senior Jerald Gillens-Butler earned a spot on the Honorable Mention list, according to the CAA preseason poll

McIntosh said he’s ready to take care of business early in the season in a quote shared over Twitter.

“Last year, we came up short, there’s a lot more room to grow and accomplish,” he said. 

McIntosh led the Phoenix in scoring last season, averaging 15.7 points per game. The junior finished top-three in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage with 35.6 and 3s made per game with 2.74.

Under White, the orange and blue are 5-1 in season openers, and they look to add to the win column. He said the goal is to help the Gators win as much as possible. 

White said the team will continue to learn from the early matchups. 

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“This is probably the most important week in terms of learning about your team,” White said. 

Tip off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the O’Dome. The game can be streamed on SEC Network+

Contact Karina Wilson at kwilson@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @kk_rinaa.

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Karina Wilson

Karina Wilson is a third-year student at the University of Florida within the College of Journalism and Communications with a specialization in sports and media. She aims to produce engaging, accurate and current content for all types of sports fans. Currently, Karina is The Alligator's men’s basketball beat writer.


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