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UF Men’s Basketball: Mississippi State 72, Florida 69

State forward Tolu Smith (24) had his way with the Gators inside Saturday on his way to 27 points and 14 rebounds.
Photo By: USA TODAY SPORTS

Courtesy of University Athletic Association

BY DENVER PARLER

Mississippi State 72, Florida 69
Humphrey Coliseum
Starkville, Miss.

Records: Florida 6-4 (3-3 SEC), Mississippi State 9-5 (4-2 SEC)

Notables

  *   Tyree Appleby finished with a team-leading 20 points, marking his first 20-point game for the Gators and 15th of his college career.
  *   Appleby finished a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line, the most free throws without a miss by a Gator since KeVaughn Allen hit all 11 attempts in the Gators’ double overtime win vs. Gonzaga in Portland on Nov. 24, 2017.
  *   Colin Castleton added 16 points and six blocked shots, giving him 14 blocked shots over the past two games.
  *   Castleton is the first SEC player with back-to-back games of six blocks or more since LSU’s Jordan Mickey on Jan. 14 and 17, 2015.
  *   Florida rallied from 11 points down with 1:36 remaining and had a shot to tie the game in the final seconds.

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Quotable

Colin Castleton
On his ankle injury…
“Yeah, I’m good. I just rolled it a little bit. Just taped it up, had to get back in the action.”

On Mississippi State’s inside strength…
“I mean we knew coming into the game, just like last game, a physical team just like the team before. Basically, this league is going to be physical and we have to know that, we have to understand that and we have to just come in together as a team, rebound together, box out, and just play more physical. That’s all it comes down to, so… We knew that coming in, but just didn’t get the job done.”

On missing Anthony Duruji for most of the first half due foul trouble…
“It definitely hurts. We have to stop fouling at the end of the day. Everybody has to do it, I have to do it. We just have little fouls that we aren’t supposed to be doing and we just need to stop fouling. Basically, that’s all it comes down to. You put yourself in a bad position when your starting four-man can’t be out on the court. Just in general, too, everybody fouled. We just didn’t do a good job of that… Just being more physical because if we were more physical we would have gotten rebounds and they wouldn’t have gotten put-backs. I think (Tolu) Smith had like, I don’t even know how many, but every time I looked over, he had an offensive rebound. We can’t let that happen.”

Head Coach Mike White

On whether Mississippi State took over the game physically…
“Well, they did for sure. I’d like to think that in the future we’ll add little bit more resistance to that, play with some more physical toughness. I just saw it the other day against Ole Miss, who is right there in the same ballpark in terms of their offensive rebounding efficiency. (We) didn’t play with enough physical toughness, we just didn’t.”

On the offensive play today…
“I thought we bypassed some open shooters off of pick-and-roll reads, off spread pick-and-roll reads. We just weren’t real crisp, we took a couple that we probably shouldn’t have taken, and then we passed up some open ones. We just seemed a little bit rattled offensively, and that happens sometimes when you’re playing from behind. I thought we got off to a really good start and then our flow, our tempo, again, it dictated us playing in the half court more so than we wanted to coming into the game.”

On if early missed shots led to a rattled offense…
“Well I think it can. You know, really good teams, heck, they can miss 10 pretty good looks right in a row and it shouldn’t affect how you execute, your transition defense, whether or not you’re blocking out. This team right now is affected a little bit too easily by whether or not the ball is going through the net.”