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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Gators falter from beyond the arc in loss to Oklahoma Sooners

Florida finishes non-conference play with loss

<p>Florida forward Colin Castleton wards off a Connecticut defender in the Gators&#x27; loss to the Huskies Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.</p>

Florida forward Colin Castleton wards off a Connecticut defender in the Gators' loss to the Huskies Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.

Despite 22 points from graduate student forward Colin Castleton, the Florida Gators were defeated by the Oklahoma Sooners in the Jumpman Invitational. The Gators struggled to connect from deep and finished the night 2-22 from beyond the arc. 

The Florida Gators (7-5) lost, 62-53, to the Oklahoma Sooners (9-3) Tuesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. Oklahoma outscored Florida — which went 0-9 from three in the second half — by 11 points. The Sooners finished the game 7-18 from 3-point range.

The Gators' defense started the game on a high note. Junior guard Trey Bonham stole the ball and scored a fastbreak layup for Florida’s first basket of the night. 

Bonham connected on a triple later to give the Gators their first 3-pointer. Castleton finished a three-point play on the following possession to give UF an early 11-8 lead. 

Castleton and Bonham combined for Florida’s first 11 points, and a layup from sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves added to the score. 

After making four straight jump shots, the Gators failed to connect on their next three attempts. Reeves stole the ball and passed it to sophomore guard Will Richard, who dunked it to end the short-lived cold streak. 

Reeves later banked in a 3-pointer to give Florida a 10-point lead. Oklahoma and Florida failed to get jump shots to fall across the next three minutes, but free throws helped the Gators maintain their lead. 

UF started the game 9-17 from the field but made just one of its next 12 attempts. The Sooners made a pair of layups to cut the Gators’ lead down to five points. 

Castleton ended the Gators' streak of misses with a layup, but Oklahoma forward Tanner Groves hit a three on the other end to make it a two-point game. The Sooners closed the half on a 10-2 run. 

Florida missed nine of its last 10 jump shots and held a 31-29 lead going into halftime. The Gators shot 33% from the field and only connected on two of its 13 attempts from beyond the arc. Castleton and Bonham combined for 20 of UF’s 31 first-half points. 

Castleton opened the second half with a mid-range jumper and a layup. The Sooners responded with a triple and a pair of free throws to make it a one-point Florida lead to open the half. 

Florida’s defensive efforts continued to be evident. The Gators stifled Tanner Groves down low and forced two missed layups. Richard blocked a shot a few possessions later, but UF couldn’t capitalize when Bonham missed a corner three.

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The Sooners took the lead with a corner 3-pointer by guard Jacob Groves. Florida graduate student guard Kyle Lofton responded on the other end with a layup to tie the game at 37. 

Oklahoma went on a 5-0 run to take a three-point lead midway through the second half. After a slew of turnovers by both sides, Reeves took off on a fast break and lobbed it up to Richards, who soared up for the dunk.

Sooners guard Bijan Cortes stole the ball and took off for a breakaway score. Richard chased him down and slapped the ball off the backboard to keep the game within four points. 

Oklahoma guard Grant Sherfield pushed the Sooners' lead to five points with his fourth 3-pointer. He shot 4-6 from long distance. 

Castleton kept the Gators in the game down the stretch. He made two free throws and a put-back layup to bring his total to 22 points on the night.

Sherfield drove the floor and scored a layup to secure Oklahoma’s five-point lead. Florida failed to pick up Sooners forward Jalen Hill in transition on the next possession, and he was left alone for an easy score.

Bonham and Reeves heaved up 3-point attempts, but neither fell, and the Gators lost to the Sooners. 

The Gators’ next game will be their first Southeastern Conference matchup of the season. Florida will play the Auburn Tigers Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. The road game will be broadcast on ESPN2. 

Contact Jackson Reyes at Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Fall 2023 Sports Editor. He previously served as Digital Managing Editor and was a reporter and assistant editor on the sports desk. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and watching Bo Nix.

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