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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Gators get to .500 in SEC play after victory over LSU

Castleton scores 18 points to put away Tigers

Florida forward Colin Castleton celebrates during the Gators' victory over the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. He finished with 18 points in UF's victory over the Louisiana State Tigers Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.
Florida forward Colin Castleton celebrates during the Gators' victory over the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. He finished with 18 points in UF's victory over the Louisiana State Tigers Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

The Florida Gators caught fire in the second half. They made over half of their jump shots to overcome the Louisiana State Tigers and seal back-to-back Southeastern conference victories. 

The Gators finished the second half 55% from the field and outscored the Tigers 42-28 in the second half. UF also held LSU to 32% from the field. 

The Gators (9-7, 2-2 SEC) defeated LSU (12-4, 1-3 SEC) 67-56 Tuesday night in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Florida used the charity stripe to its advantage all night. It finished 24-32 from the free throw line, while the Tigers only managed 16 attempts. UF also outscored LSU 23-5 in points off of turnovers. 

The Gators came out flat to start the game. Florida failed to score for the first four and a half minutes of the game and trailed 7-0 early to LSU. UF missed its first six shots — five coming from beyond the arc. 

Sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves finally scored the Gators’ first points with a pair of free throws. Reeves followed it up with a corner triple for Florida’s first made jump shot of the game. 

The Gators took their first lead after sophomore guard Will Richard stole the ball at half-court. He converted a three-point play by scoring the breakaway layup and drew a foul to cap off an 8-0 run. 

UF Graduate student forward Colin Castleton failed to get going early in the game. His first points of the night came from a hook shot over LSU forward KJ Williams midway through the first half. 

LSU hit a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to retake the lead. Louisiana State guard Adam Miller nailed another triple to give the Tigers a 24-16 lead with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half. 

Florida stumbled upon another drought later in the period. The Gators missed five straight shots and were just 1-8, while LSU went on a 10-2 run. Junior guard Trey Bonham hit a three to end the streak of misses.

UF freshman guard Riley Kugel made a layup to tie the game at 25 in the closing minutes of the half. LSU forward Tyrell Ward sunk a triple to give the Tigers a 28-25 lead at halftime. 

The Gators finished the first half 3-17 from beyond the arc. Reeves led the team with seven first-half points, but he started 2-9 from the field and 1-6 from 3-point range. 

Florida sophomore forward Alex Fudge — who spent his freshman year at LSU — made a free throw early in the second half to give him his first point of the night. 

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The Gators and Tigers battled back and forth to open the half. UF graduate student guard Kyle Lofton scored on consecutive possessions to tie the game at 34 with 15:18 left in the game. 

A 7-0 Florida run helped the Gators take their biggest lead of the game, 41-36. The Gators went 4-5 over the stretch, and a corner three from graduate student guard Myreon Jones forced an LSU timeout. 

Florida’s lead was extended to eight points after Kugel hit a triple. Despite an 8-28 start in the first half, the Gators made seven of their first 11 second-half jump shots. 

LSU cut the Florida lead to four points after Williams scored a bucket down low through contact and converted the three-point play. Fudge responded for the Gators; he soared for an offensive rebound and made the put-back layup. 

A few possessions later, Fudge flew up to finish an alley-oop from Richard. He then hit a layup to give Florida an eight-point lead — its largest of the game. The lead swelled to double figures after Castleton scored down low. 

Castleton hit a pump fake down low to get a Tigers defender in the air. He found himself open for an easy basket to give Florida a nine-point lead late in the second half. 

Jones stole the ball in the closing seconds to help seal the game for the Gators. 

Castleton finished the game with 18 points and shot 12-15 from the free-throw line. Fudge finished with seven points and three rebounds against his former team. 

The Gators will return to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for their next game against the No. 20 Missouri Tigers Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

Contact Jackson Reyes at jacksonreyes@alligator.org. 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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