Sat, 21 May 2022

Beating Florida is a tall order for Mississippi State

Field Level Media
19 Jan 2022, 04:19 GMT+10

Florida finally found success in the Southeastern Conference, thanks to some inside help.

With their first conference win under their belt, the Gators (10-6, 1-3 SEC) will look to win consecutive league games when they host Mississippi State (12-4, 3-1) on Wednesday in Gainesville, Fla.

Saturday's success at South Carolina was led in large part by Colin Castleton, a 6-foot-11 paint presence whose career started at Michigan.

The Florida native has found his niche with the Gators: Lock down the lane and turn away opposing shots.

In the 71-63 win over the Gamecocks, Castleton produced 10 points on the offensive end. He also grabbed seven rebounds and matched a career high with eight blocked shots. He tops the squad with 15.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots per game.

Coach Mike White said his team regained its identity in a Jan. 12 home loss to then-No. 12 LSU.

"Defensively, let's put pressure on ourselves to get back to being a high-level defensive team," he said of Florida's goal when it faced the Tigers, who won 64-58.

The hot Bulldogs will present a formidable opponent for White's bunch.

Mississippi State built an early lead Saturday and held on to knock off then-No. 24 Alabama, booting the Crimson Tide out of the Top 25 with a 78-76 win at home.

The victory was the Bulldogs' sixth in the past seven games and boosted them to fourth in the SEC standings.

Along with the offensive exploits of leading scorer Iverson Molinar (game-best 24 points), Mississippi State also turned to its defense. It limited Alabama to 39.3 percent shooting, won the rebounding battle 43-32 and forced 15 turnovers.

"We came out here and played tough and played aggressive," said Molinar, who added six rebounds, four assists and two steals. "That is what you need to beat a good team. We needed to play as hard as we could and I feel like we did that."

Molinar ranks third in the SEC in scoring with 17.9 points per game, trailing Arkansas' JD Notae and Vanderbilt's Scotty Pippen Jr., both at 18.8.

--Field Level Media

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