Florida guard Kowacie Reeves (14) goes for the basket past North Florida guard Emmanuel Adedoyin (o) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Gator Men’s Hoops Loses Big to Ole Miss On the Road

The Florida Men’s Basketball team (12-7) lost to the Ole Miss Rebels 70-54 (10-9) in Oxford on Monday. Florida rode a three-game winning streak into the contest but fell short on the road. Ole Miss broke a four-game losing streak of their own and earned their second SEC victory of the year.

The game was originally scheduled for December 29, but COVID-19 issues within Florida’s program led to a postponement.

Florida struggled mightily from beyond the arc, only converting on four of their 29 three-point attempts. They also turned the ball over 14 times against the Rebels after only committing eight turnovers against Vanderbilt on Saturday, a season-low.

Daeshun Ruffin led the Rebels with 21 points, adding six assists and four steals, as well. Matthew Murrell also scored in the double digits, putting up 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting with three 3-pointers.

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Florida big man Jason Jitoboh, filling in for injured starter Colin Castelton, put up another strong performance scoring 12 points on perfect 6-for-6 shooting and five rebounds.  Anthony Duruji added 11 points and four rebounds, but not much else worked for the Gators offensively on Monday.

Slow Start

Scoring was hard to come by early in this one, with both teams tied up 22-22 at halftime. The Gators got on the scoreboard first, with a Duruji layup just over a minute into the game.

The Gators led for most of the first half, jumping out to a 15-10 lead after five quick points from Phlandrous Fleming Jr. Duruji picked up two fouls early, though, and had to come out of the game about midway through the first half.

They felt his absence, going on a scoring drought of over four minutes, and the Rebels took a 21-20 lead as the end of the half drew near. Brandon McKissic converted a layup to regain the lead, but Ole Miss made a free throw to end the half, and both teams were knotted up at 22.

Rebels Run Away With It

From the start of the second half, the Rebels came ready to play. Ole Miss jumped out to a quick 6-0 run to start the half, forcing Gator coach Mike White to call an early timeout just a minute and a half into the second period.

Florida would never recover, as they trailed for the entirety of the second half. The Rebels capitalized off Gator turnovers early in the second half, scoring six points off turnovers in the first three minutes.

Jitoboh scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, going on a run of six straight points in the middle of the half, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Gators in the game.

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The Rebels outscored the Gators 48-32 in the second half after both teams had trouble shooting early in the game.

Implications

The Gators felt the absence of star center Colin Castleton in this game. Possibly more importantly, though, they played on the road after only one day of rest after their win against Vanderbilt.  Ole Miss had a similar turnaround, though, losing by double digits to Mississippi State on Saturday.  With the loss, the Gators drop below .500 in the SEC at 3-4 in the conference. They’ll face a challenge Wednesday when they travel to face Tennessee in Knoxville and then return home Saturday to face Oklahoma State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

About Parker Fluke

I'm a third-year student at the University of Florida passionate about storytelling and sportswriting. My goal is to work in communications for a professional sports team after I graduate.

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