Florida coach Todd Golden gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Florida Men’s Basketball On the Road to Face Georgia

The Gators men’s basketball team is set to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens tonight. Florida currently sits one spot ahead of the Bulldogs in the SEC standings, despite having a worse record overall.

Post-Castleton Struggles

Florida lost their star when Colin Castleton broke his hand in the win over Ole Miss earlier this month. Castleton was having a stellar season for the Orange & Blue, averaging 16 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2.7 assists per game.

Florida hasn’t won a game since. They’ve dropped three in a row to Arkansas, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, respectively. The Gators’ defense has struggled mightily without him manning the middle, allowing 84.6 points per game.

Florida forward Colin Castleton, right, watches the during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Gainesville, Fla. Castleton broke his hand in an earlier game. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Riding the Hot Hand

While Florida has struggled on defense without Castleton, their offensive output has been able to tread water.

The Gators have been led by freshman standout Riley Kugel, who is averaging 20.3 points over his last three games. The 6’5 guard has averaged 9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per game this season.

Kugel had been mostly coming off of the bench to start the year, but is a regular starter now. He’s started the last 10 games for the Gators.

Since becoming a regular in the first five, Kugel’s offensive output has exploded. He’s scored in double digits in his last six games.

Florida guard Riley Kugel (24) tries to pass the ball as Kentucky forward Chris Livingston (24) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Youngblood)

Georgia Outlook

Like Florida, the Bulldogs come into tonight’s game on a three-game losing streak. During their current skid, Georgia’s allowing over 96 points per game while scoring only 62.3.

Tonight is the Bulldogs’ final home game of the season. In Athens, they’ve gone a stout 13-3.

Georgia’s led by former Gators men’s basketball head coach Mike White. White and the Bulldogs have faced off with the Gators one other time this season, losing in Gainesville in January.

Mike White coaching at the SEC Tournament. Credits to @ESPNGainesville

Tournament Implications

Realistically, Florida and Georgia both have a slim-to-no chance of competing in March Madness this year. Neither team has the record to make it without a win in the SEC Tournament. Both the Gators and the Bulldogs should be viewing tonight’s matchup as a tune-up before the SEC tournament, which begins March 8.

The game will tip off at 7 p.m. in Athens, Georgia. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

About Nathaniel Wilson

Nathaniel is a second-year graduate student in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. You can reach Nathaniel by email at nathanielwilson@ufl.edu.

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