Saturday, May 28, 2022

Ole Miss Welcomes in the Florida Gators into the Pavilion

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor
adam.brown@hottytoddy.com

The Ole Miss men’s basketball team starts a three-game home stand on Monday as they take on the Florida Gators. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network +.

Ole Miss and Florida were originally slated to play on Dec. 29, but the game was postponed due to COVID.

Ole Miss (9-9, 1-5 SEC) is coming off a 78-60 loss at Mississippi State on Saturday. The Rebels were led by Matthew Murrell and Jaemyn Brakefield with 14 and 13 points respectfully.

Florida comes to Oxford at 12-6 overall and 3-3 in SEC play, and are on a currently three-game winning streak after opening conference action on a three-game skid. The Gators have won three in a row against South Carolina (71-63), Mississippi State (80-72) and Vanderbilt (61-42) and starting the SEC slate with three ranked losses against No. 15 Alabama (83-70), No. 9 Auburn (85-73) and No. 12 LSU (64-58). Florida currently sits at No. 34 in the NET rankings with a combined 4-5 record against Quad 1 (1-4) and Quad 2 (3-1), and a combined 8-1 record against Quad 3 (2-0) and Quad 4 (6-1). In non-conference play, the Gators notched a ranked win over No. 20 Florida State on Nov. 14 (71-55) and additional Power-5 wins over Cal (80-60) and Ohio State (71-68), with its non-con losses coming to Oklahoma (74-67), Texas Southern (69-54) and Maryland (70-68).

Florida has ridden a lockdown defense to success this season, ranking in the upper echelon of the NCAA in several defensive categories. Florida owns the NCAA’s No. 35 scoring defense at 62.7 points allowed per game (No. 3 SEC), helped greatly by the seventh-most blocks per game with 5.9 (No. 2 SEC), 14th-most steals per game at 9.6 (No. 4 SEC), and the No. 40 three-point defense at 29.5 percent (No. 2 SEC). The Gators also clean up the offensive glass well, ranking No. 35 in the NCAA in offensive rebounds per game at 12.6 (No. 4 SEC).

Colin Castleton, who scored 21 points alongside 10 boards and seven blocks against the Rebels last season, has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Gators again this year. Castleton leads Florida in scoring at 15.4 PPG (8th SEC), 9.1 rebounds per game (2nd SEC, 29th NCAA), shooting at 53.6 percent (3rd SEC), blocks per game at 2.8 (2nd SEC, 20th NCAA), as well as free throws made (69, No. 4 SEC) and attempted (104, No. 2 SEC). His six double-doubles on the year put him at No. 2 in the SEC and No. 34 nationally in such games this season.

The Gators are coached by former Rebel point guard Mike White. White played for Ole Miss from 1996-99. During his playing career, he helped Ole Miss to 74 wins, two SEC West titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances in his four years in Oxford. A co-captain as a senior, White ranks seventh in Ole Miss history with 370 career assists. After his playing career, White served as an Ole Miss assistant coach for seven seasons, including five under Andy Kennedy.

This marks the 116th all-time meeting between the Rebels and Gators. Florida owns a 68-47 edge in the series, and is 6-4 in the previous 10 matchups with Ole Miss. The Rebels hold the upper hand in Oxford by a 30-23 margin, while the Gators hold a sizeable 41-12 lead in the series in Gainesville.

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