Notes and quotes from Florida’s 91-72 win over Vanderbilt on December 30
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* The Gators won at Vanderbilt for the third straight time, matching UF’s best road winning streak against the Commodores in series history (2001-03). * Colin Castleton posted a career-best 23 points, including five dunks. Castleton’s 17 second-half points alone topped his previous personal high (14 vs. Houston Baptist while at Michigan). * Anthony Duruji made his first start for the Gators, scoring the Gators’ first five points and finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Duruji made 52 starts over his two seasons at Louisiana Tech. * The Gators held Vanderbilt without a field goal for an eight-minute stretch in the first half. * Tre Mann had his first career 10-rebound performance and finished a point shy of a double-double. * Florida played its first game in 18 days, the longest in-season layoff for the team since Jan. 15-Feb. 2, 1962.
Quotable Colin Castleton
On if they expected to play this well tonight… “I don’t know if we anticipated it because we’ve been through a lot the last couple weeks, but Coach (White) really emphasized before the game to try and not to turn over the ball as much and take care of it because that was something that we weren’t doing a lot before the break. Just taking care of the ball and just being efficient.”
On using their height to their advantage… “When we started the game, we saw they went a little small with (Dylan) Disu, so we knew that we had a little bit of a mismatch there and going over the scouting report, we knew that he was traditionally more of a four man, but they went small so I guess Coach (White) tried to exploit that and show that they had a smaller guy on the block. It definitely worked out for us.”
On seeing Anthony Duruji break out tonight… “It’s awesome. I love that dude. He’s a great guy, first and foremost. Everybody loves him. He’s high character. He has taught me so much since I’ve been rooming with him. Just a lot of little things. To see him excel out on the court in the first SEC game is huge with Keyontae (Johnson) because everybody is going to have to step up. Everybody is going to have to bring a little bit more then we were doing before, but it’s awesome to see a guy like him succeed and do really well.”
Anthony Duruji On how good it feels to provide energy… “It definitely feels good, uh, you know for me. I think it’s a confidence booster. We were battling a lot of adversity at the beginning of the season, just coming back from COVID myself. I’m glad we got this win as a team, as a collective group. Feels good just to kind of be back to myself.”
On playing basketball again… “Yeah, I mean it was definitely, you know, good to be back there. We missed the last three games, but we were able to have a break, go back home. It was just kind of like a restart, like a refresh button. It was definitely good to get that SEC win on the road.”
On blocked shots… “It felt good, just trying to be the best version of myself like Coach says. Play with a lot of energy and just bring that fire every game. It definitely feels really good.”
Head Coach Mike White On playing better than expectations… “Yes. Crazy. I didn’t quite see that coming. I think late game you could see our wind catch up with us a little bit and, also, Vanderbilt’s just terrific with their switching defenses and their aggressive defenses. We didn’t handle it great down the stretch, but then I guess there’s a 3-4 minute spurt when we didn’t. And then we finished the game, you know, making some good decisions. Defensively, I thought for the first 20 minutes of the game we were pretty sharp. And overall, Chris, I just think that, uh, our guys showed a lot of heart. A ton of heart. I don’t know of another situation in college basketball that, um, whose team has dealt with as much as our guys have. I couldn’t be more proud. Even if we had come up on the short end, the fact that these guys laid it on the line and… you know, we’ve got chased down blocks and guys are diving on the floor and we’re helping each other up and we’re connected. Our huddles were productive and at timeouts, guys were getting at each other in a positive, productive way, but also holding each other accountable. It was just a really good culture that I happened to be a part of tonight and I’m happy for Keyontae, having watched that I’m happy for our guys to be able to go home with a win for Key. I know they’re excited to see him at practice tomorrow. There’s a lot to clean up, but I couldn’t be more pleased with our effort and, um, our physical toughness but more so, Chris, our mental toughness to be able to push through the adversity that these guys have been able to push through.”
On Colin Castleton and Anthony Duruji tonight… “I thought it was really big with both of those guys. Colin is very talented. We’ve known that. He has had some huge practices and he and I have talked at length about his opportunities for him moving forward, not just this week but the next couple months. His ceiling is really high and he’s going to end up being a guy down the line will get more touches as he earns more touches. How do you earn more touches? You earn more minutes and you produce. He broke through obviously tonight. He’ll have more of these. He will. I don’t know if we can always expect him to go 11-of-13, but he’s a talented guy. He’s very skilled. I thought he made some decisions on the perimeter that were really good as well. In addition, I thought our guards did a really good job of finding him. And Anthony Duruji – yes, they’re very close. Anthony would be the first one to tell you that he struggled a bit to this point but not for a lack of effort or character. It’s really nice to see them break through together, especially Duruji because Colin has kind of had some moments at least. Duruji was terrific. To me, his stat line doesn’t show how well he played. He did have three blocks, but I thought he altered some shots and did a really good job with some ball screen defense and guarding some smaller, quicker guys. Did a really good job of moving his feet I thought.”