Instant Analysis: Florida improves to 3-1 after a furious second-half comeback

Nov 18, 2022 | 1 comment

(Photo courtesy Florida Sports Information)

Todd Golden and company, following the upset loss at home to FAU, got off to just about the worst start imaginable in the state’s capital Friday evening, digging their way into a 17-point halftime deficit. During the break, however, adjustments were made. The Seminoles’ hot shooting cooled down and the Gators’ star began to shine.

Florida left enemy territory with a 9-point win, 76-67.

Inside the GatorsInstant Analysis takes a quick look at how the game unfolded.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Florida State’s Caleb Mills missed a three with just about 50 seconds remaining. The 6-foot-5 junior gave the Florida defense a flurry of problems all night long, finishing with 21, 5, and 2 with a pair of blocks and steals. But, down 69-62 with well under a minute to go, he pulled up from behind the arc and couldn’t knock it down — essentially icing the game in the Gators’ favor.

THEY STOLE THE SHOW: The announcers called him “transformative.” And, tonight, that he was. Colin Castleton scored 19 second-half points en route to 25 & 9 with a block on 9-14 from the field and 7-10 from the charity stripe. I think it’s fair to say that the Gators don’t have a shot in this game without their star big. Everyone in Gator Nation has got to be thankful he decided to run it back in the 352 for one more year. Because, man, this guy is special. This is an NBA first-round pick talent.

THESE STATS DON’T LIE: Florida opened the second half on a 26-5 run after trailing by 17 at the half. Give Golden his props. As young and inexperienced as he may be compared to other coaches he’ll face, tonight proved he can make major in-game adjustments. After having to watch a staggered offense and vulnerable defense for 20 straight minutes, he went into the locker room, spoke to his guys and they came out looking like a whole different team. FSU blinked and found themselves crawling to get back in this thing. It became pretty clear quickly, though, that the Orange & Blue were simply the better team.

THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: Colin Castleton vs. Leonard Hamilton. Hamilton, the 74-year-old head coach of the Seminoles, came in with a simple gameplan: Limit Castleton. And, through 20 minutes, it was executed to perfection — absolutely hounding the 6’11 big every single time he touched the ball. He was held to just 6 points at half. In that halftime locker room, however, somebody figured something out. Whether it was Todd Golden, Castleton himself or someone else entirely, Hamilton’s strategy didn’t hold up for too long. He was able to find the rim without fail for the final 20 — a complete 180 from the first — and finished as the game’s biggest factor.

WHAT A PLAY(S): Look, yes. It probably is Alex Fudge’s monstrous baseline dunk. But I’d be remiss not to give Trey Bonham the credit he deserves. Because, while it was Castleton who put up the majority of the numbers during the second-half run, it was actually the smallest guy on the court who made the biggest impact and sparked the comeback.

The second half opened with a Bonham three and multiple defensive stops in which the ‘Noles were looking to directly attack the VMI transfer. Those plays were followed by a few Castleton buckets — and before you knew it, Florida was running away with it.

UP NEXT: The Gators (3-1) will now travel to Portland to take on the 3-1 Xavier Musketeers in a Thanksgiving-day matchup.

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