Following Friday’s 88-78 home win over Kennesaw State, Florida improved to 2-0 under first-year head coach Todd Golden. The Gators will return to the O’Connell Center Monday night to face the FAU Owls.
Golden called Florida forward Colin Castleton “really efficient” following the fifth-year senior’s career-high, 33-point performance Friday.
“We had an advantage inside tonight,” Golden said. “We didn’t think [Kennesaw State] had a guy that could really bother Colin [Castleton] enough.”
Through two games, Castleton leads the Gators in every statistical category. The 6-foot-11 big man is averaging 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists, 3.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.
“Hopefully it will continue to help not only [Castleton] but the rest of the team find the confidence that we need to keep getting better and better,” Golden said. “I think him kind of being the catalyst or leader in that regard is really good for us . . . 33 points on 18 shots is hard to do.”
Castleton called Golden “one of the best coaches in the country” and praised his ability to give his players confidence.
“He’s going to get on you, but he’s also going to show you a lot of love,” Castleton said. “As players we really like that, we relate to him really well . . . he just instills that confidence in me every day and tells me what I am capable of.”
FAU Brings Size to Gainesville
FAU’s interior will look to pose a greater threat to Castleton and company as sophomore center Vladislav Goldin led the Owls with 19 points and nine boards against Ole Miss. The 7-foot-one, 240-pound Russian shot nearly 70% from the field and grabbed a career-high six offensive rebounds.
Efficient Shooting Start
In addition to Castleton, a pair of Florida sophomores are averaging double-digit points per game — Belmont transfer guard Will Richard (14.5 points) and LSU transfer forward Alex Fudge (11).
The Gators are shooting over 50% from the field and just under 39% from three-point range. Castleton is 18 for 30 from the field (60%), but he’s made only 10 of 17 free-throw attempts (58.8%).
Richard is 10 of 15 on field-goal attempts (66.7%) and Fudge is eight for 16 (50%). The duo shot a combined 5-10 from deep through the first two games. Sophomore guard Kowacie Reeves leads Florida with four three-pointers on nine attempts (44.4%).
“I thought it was a great game for [Reeves],” Golden said after Friday’s win. “You see some of the confidence coming out of him like the three he hit in transition . . . that was a shot of a kid that has grown and believes.”
FAU Faces Second SEC Road Battle in Four Days
The Owls enter the matchup 1-1 and are coming off a 13-point road loss against Ole Miss. The Rebels shot over 50% from the field and 40% from three, so Florida’s hot shooters will look to further exploit FAU’s defense. The Gators are 3-0 versus FAU dating back to their first meeting in 2000.
How to Watch
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will air on the SEC Network.