Florida basketball: Takeaways from UF's 74-61 win over Elon

Graham Hall
UF basketball writer
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Twenty-four hours prior to tip-off, Florida coach Mike White wouldn’t commit to the same starting five the Gators used in the 80-57 exhibition win over Embry-Riddle last week, saying anywhere from three to five players would remain in the starting line-up in the season opener against Elon University.

When the Gators took the court prior to tip-off Tuesday, White had made a change: inserting senior Tyree Appleby into the starting line-up in place of graduate transfer Phlandrous Fleming Jr.

Appleby would finish the game with 14 points and three assists in 28 minutes of action in the 74-61 Florida win.

Following the 13-point win over Elon, White revealed Fleming was limited in practice with a groin injury during the week prior, resulting in the reserve role – though he could have been held out entirely. 

Hours before tip-off, White said the Gators didn’t know whether Fleming would be able to participate in the contest. 

“One of our best players throughout the course of this summer and fall. He’s been banged up a little bit. We didn’t even know he was gonna play until an hour before the game,” White said, “So it was nice to see him get going and play a game and not hamper what he had going on.” 

Fleming would enter the game for the first time with 15:17 remaining in place of Appleby and he’d finish with just four points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field in 17 minutes off the bench. 

Castleton sets tone defensively

Colin Castleton opened his senior season in impressive fashion, scoring 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting in just 23 minutes of play. 

But Castleton’s most impressive display came on the defensive end, where he registered six blocks and a steal, which marked the DeLand native’s fourth career game recording six or more blocks. 

The former Michigan transfer said the opponent doesn’t matter when it comes to effort on the defensive end – whether it’s Elon or Kentucky, Castleton said it’s important to set the tone. Despite filling up the stat sheet, Castleton didn’t feel as if the Gators closed the game with identical enthusiasm. 

“I think every night is big. Every game you’ve got to play defense hard. You’ve got to have a little bit more of urgency,” Castleton said. “In the first half we had really good urgency. Came out playing hard on every level, and then we just let up, so it was really disappointing. We just have to come back and practice hard and get ready for Sunday, because that’s going to be a very big test for us.”

FT performance not long-term concern

Florida’s charity stripe performance in the debut left much to be desired. The Gators left 13 points at the line, connecting on just 16-of-29 free-throw attempts against Elon University. 

Despite pouring in 18 points, Castleton didn’t hold back when it came time to take ownership for the issues at the line either. 

“It was 4-for-10, so it was mainly my fault. We’ve got to do better shooting free throws,” he said. “It’s definitely pissed me off a little bit, but we’ll be fine. We’ve just got to keep working on it. Everybody’s got to get in the gym and just keep getting reps up.”

White concurred with the team’s senior down low, saying he’s seen enough from the Gators in practice to be unconcerned with missed free throws in the season-opener.

“I’m glad that Colin’s hard on himself and hard on the way that we performed in the last 20 (minutes). I think if we played night-in and night-out the way that we performed int he last 20, we’ll be competitive in most games this year, I really do,” White said. “But the free throw shooting, I’m just not worried about at all. I just think we’re a good free-throw shooting team. I think that will be an outlier as we look back.”

Florida 74, Elon 61

ELON (0-1)

Graham 6-7 4-6 16, Burford 4-7 0-1 9, McIntosh 5-11 3-5 15, Ervin 1-7 0-0 3, Gillens-Butler 1-5 0-0 2, Watson 1-10 8-10 10, Woods 1-2 0-0 3, Wooten 0-1 0-0 0, Junkin 0-1 0-0 0, Sherry 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 20-52 16-24 61.

FLORIDA (1-0)

Castleton 7-11 4-10 18, Duruji 3-4 1-2 8, Appleby 3-6 5-5 14, Jones 7-14 2-3 218, McKissic 1-5 2-2 4, Fleming 1-5 2-3 4, Felder 1-4 0-0 2, Gatkek 1-2 0-0 2, Lane 0-1 0-4 0, Jitoboh 1-3 0-0 2, Reeves 0-3 0-0 0, Kennedy 0-1 0-0 0, Klatsky 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 16-29 74.

Halftime_Florida 47-24. 3-Point Goals_Elon 5-20 (McIntosh 2-7, Burford 1-1, Woods 1-1, Ervin 1-5, Gillens-Butler 0-1, Wooten 0-1, Watson 0-4), Florida 8-25 (Jones 4-8, Appleby 3-5, Duruji 1-2, Kennedy 0-1, Lane 0-1, Reeves 0-1, Felder 0-2, Fleming 0-2, McKissic 0-3). Fouled Out_Jitoboh. Rebounds_Elon 29 (Graham 9), Florida 37 (Duruji 7). Assists_Elon 10 (Gillens-Butler 3), Florida 16 (Castleton 4). Total Fouls_Elon 22, Florida 18. A_9,275 (10,133).

Up next

Who: Florida State vs. Florida

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: O'Connell Center

TV: ESPN

Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM

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