Florida guard Brandon McKissic (23) celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Troy, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

Florida Gets First Win in Conference Play in Columbia

After dropping three straight loses, the Florida Gators Men’s basketball team finally get their first Southeastern Conference win of the season. On the road, the Gators defeated South Carolina 71-63, Saturday.

The Gators bounces back from a disappointing 36.4 percent shooting in Wednesday’s home loss against No. 12 LSU. Florida (10-6, 1-3 SEC) shot a season-best 55.1 percent the field, as they snapped their winless start in conference play.

Phlandrous Fleming Jr. and freshman Kowacie Reeves led the scoring for the Orange and Blue with 14 points each. Reeves made his second straight start of the season. The freshman guard erupted scoring five of the Gators first eight points.

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Also scoring in double-digits, Colin Castleton added 10 point and a career-high eight blocks. Castleton’s seven rebounds led the team as well.

Off the bench, junior guard Chico Carter Jr. led the Gamecocks in scoring with 12 points.

Florida Back in the Win Column

For the game, the Gators held the Gamecocks to a mere 35 percent from the floor while forcing nine turnovers.

To start, South Carolina threw the first punch taking their only lead of the game at 2-0. However, Florida went on a 9-0 run including a Reeves triple with 16:34 left in the first half. The young guard has always been thought of an offensive force. But, effort on the defensive end determined his play thus far.

White mentioned the improvement and growth Reeves has showed this season.

I think every freshman in the country has to go through a learning curve of defensive schemes, intensity, rebounding prowess, physicality, and offensively, understanding what we’re trying to run, what’s a great shot, and how to execute. He’s become a better ball handler and passer. He’s learned how to really play within himself. This is a guy who, like most high school kids a year ago today, he was in a high school game trying to get 25 shots up. It was really hard to guard him at that level. I am really proud of him. He’s had an unbelievable attitude and nothing has been handed to him.

Florida Continues Success in Columbia

In the first half, Florida led by as many as 13 points with 1:23 before the half before the Gamecocks goes on a 5-0 to close the half. The Gators led 36-28.

Then, South Carolina continued to fight as both teams scored 35 points in the second half. Trailing by nine points, Carter drains a bombs from long range to cut the deficit to six with 1:14 remaining. However, Tyree Appleby knocked down two free throw to seal the victory for the Gators.

White recently talks about the performance in the teams’ fin conference win of the year.

In the locker room, we enjoyed the win. Road wins are really hard to come by, period. In this league, especially. South Carolina is going to win a bunch of games… They already have and they’re going to continue to win. They are going to be really hard to beat here. With that being said, I thought we got really casual late. But, the amount of stuff the guys have been through as of late, I think it was a big sigh of relief.

For the game, the Gators assisted on 17 of 27 baskets. Appleby led Florida with six assist in 25 minutes of play off the bench.

This victory against the Gamecocks marks the third start time the Gators exited Colonial Life Arena with a victory.

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Looking Ahead

After defeating Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks has now dropped two consecutive games in conference. Now, they look to bounce on the road against Arkansas, Tuesday.

While, coach White and the Gators have their eyes set on returning to the Exactech Arena, Wednesday. Florida will face off against Mississippi State looking to capture some momentum in conference play. Tip off set is at 6:30 p.m. in the O’Connell Center.

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