Missing morning shootaround costs Tyree Appleby a start

Graham Hall
UF basketball writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Florida guards Tyree Appleby and Scottie Lewis were relegated to bench roles to begin the game, and it wasn’t for strategic reasons. 

The two Gators arrived late to the morning shootaround session, ESPN’s broadcast reported, resulting in a reserve role for the team’s second round match-up in the SEC Tournament with Vanderbilt. 

More:Gators hope brief rest leads to rejuvenation at SEC Tournament

Florida Gators guard Scottie Lewis (23) defends Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. (2) during an SEC basketball game against Vanderbilt at Exactech Arena in Gainesville Fla. Jan. 27, 2021.  [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Freshman wing Samson Ruzhentsev started in place of Lewis, the first start of the former five-star prospect’s collegiate career, while junior Noah Locke — UF’s only player with prior SEC Tournament experience — was on the court for tip-off instead of Appleby. 

Appleby has started the last 14 games this season for the Gators after coming off the bench to begin the season, while Locke has started all but one game this season. Locke has started in 75 of 88 games as a Gator. 

Meanwhile, Lewis had earned the start in nine of  the 17 games he was available for this season, including UF’s most recent loss in the regular season finale at Tennessee. 

At the under-16 timeout and with the score tied 8-8, Ruzhentsev had already contributed by hauling in a pair of defensive rebounds, although he would miss his first field-goal attempt, a three-pointer.