Gator Men’s Basketball Defeats Ole Miss; Castleton Breaks Hand

The Florida men’s basketball team (14-12, 7-6 SEC) defeated the Ole Miss Rebels (10-16, 2-11) on Wednesday night to snap a three-game SEC losing streak. The final score was 79-64. But perhaps a bigger story is the broken hand suffered by Florida center Colin Castleton as he left the game early in the second half.

Castleton is the Gators’ top scorer, rebounder and blocker. The Gators must find a way to succeed without their star player now that Castleton is probably gone for the remainder of the season.  Kowacie Reeves is confident that his team can push through this adversity.

First Half

Myreon Jones immediately drained two three-pointers, and Reeves followed with a poster dunk that set the tone for the Gators’ early dominance. Ole Miss kept it close as Matthew Murrell had a big dunk and an uncontested three-pointer, giving the Rebels a four-point advantage. However, Will Richard’s floater and Kyle Lofton’s jumper tied the score. Robert Allen answered with a layup and a free throw, extending the Rebels’ lead. The Gators were able to restore the lead thanks to Richard’s dunk and corner three. Also, Riley Kugel’s backdoor cut to the hoop and a dunk continued the Gator’s hot streak.  Florida would go into the locker room with a halftime lead.

Second Half

The Rebels came back into the second half fighting as Amaree Abram and Myles Burns scored a combined 10 points three minutes into the second half. They trailed the Gators by two points before Reeves’ layup and free throw. Soon after, Castleton made one of two free throws in what might have been his last collegiate points. He soon departed the game clutching his hurt left hand. Castleton’s backup center Jason Jitoboh filled in, contributing four points, two assists and one steal. Gator coach Todd Golden was proud of how Jitoboh played.

Even though the Gators didn’t have their leading scorer, they kept building a lead as the half wore on.  Lofton did a great job as a playmaker, having seven assists and two turnovers. Additionally, he achieved double digit scoring along with Richard, Jones, Kugel and Reeves. Coach Golden was pleased with the level of teamwork.

Aleks Szymczyk’s second collegiate basket in the paint brought an end to the game as the bench celebrated the rookie’s accomplishment and the end of their losing streak. Gator victory, 79-64.

Florida will travel to Fayetteville on Saturday to play the Arkansas Razorbacks.

About Cristina Santiago

Cristina Santiago is a senior at the University of Florida studying journalism with a concentration in sports and media.

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