Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) shoots as he collides with Florida forward Keyontae Johnson (11) during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Wade Payne/The Tennessean via AP)

Gators Men’s Hoops Take Home Victory in SEC Opener

Dec. 30 was a big day for the Gators. The football team competed against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl, and the men’s basketball team traveled to Nashville for a match-up against Vanderbilt. While Florida football was unable to bring home another bowl win, the basketball team made up for that defeat. In their first SEC game this season, the Gators took won, 91-72, against Vanderbilt.

Wednesday’s Gators Game

The Gators came out of the gates strong, totaling 43 points in the first half compared to Vanderbilt’s 29. In the second half, the Commodores attempted to close the gap, but their 43 points fell short compared to the Gators’ 48.

Five Florida players ended the game in double-digit games, and all nine players that stepped on the court were on the board before the half.

Colin Castleton had a career-high of 23 points during the game and had five rebounds. This is the junior’s first season with the Gators after transferring from Michigan.

Sophomore Scottie Lewis had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Last season, he averaged 8.5 points per game, ending the 2019-20 season with 255 points total. So far, Lewis has earned 67 points in the five games that the Gators have played of the 2020-21 season.

Tyree Appleby walked away from the game with 13 points, his second-most points scored (as a Gator) only to the 15 that he earned against Army in the first game of the season.

Louisiana Tech transfer Anthony Duruji stepped in to fill Keyontae Johnson‘s role for the game. In his short time under coach Mike White‘s direction, the forward has already beaten most of his averages from his time at Louisiana Tech. Duruji finished the Vanderbilt game with 11 points. five rebounds, three blocked shots, and two steals. This may be turning a new leaf for the forward, as he only scored five points in the previous four games combined.

Junior guard Noah Locke had 10 points for the game; he underwent surgery in May for a groin injury but has been able to play in every game so far this season.

Tre Mann played for 33 minutes in last night’s game. The sophomore was able to put up nine points and four assists during that time. On top of that, he had a career-best 10 rebounds. Last season, Mann only averaged 1.9 rebounds per contest.

Record

Wednesday’s win over the Commodores has increased Florida’s win streak over Vanderbilt to five games. The last time the Gators lost to the Commodores was in the 2017-18 season during their match-up in Nashville. Overall, Florida is closing in on Vanderbilt, with now 69 wins over the Tennessee team, compared to the Commodores’ 70 wins over the Gators all time.

 Back From a Break

The Gators have spent the past two and a half weeks away from facing any competition. Their last four games were postponed while the team and program processed and coped with the traumatic collapse of Keyontae Johnson during the Florida vs. Florida State game on Dec. 12.

Florida men’s basketball will not face another opponent until the new year. 6-1 LSU will be traveling to Gainesville on Jan. 2 to compete with 4-1 Florida.

About Rylee McIver

Rylee is a third year Journalism major with a specialization in sports and media at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

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