College basketball: Florida Gators rout Milwaukee Panthers

Graham Hall
UF basketball writer
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Aside from his 19th birthday, Milwaukee’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. didn’t have much to celebrate Thursday during Florida’s 81-45 victory over the Panthers. 

With 22 NBA scouts in attendance and focused on Baldwin, the potential NBA draft lottery pick finished with 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field. The guard/forward couldn’t connect from long range, missing all three of his attempts from three-point land. 

Florida (3-0) head coach Mike White praised the team’s defensive effort against Baldwin, adding the freshman’s professional potential is apparent early into his collegiate career. 

“I thought collectively we were pretty good trying to limit some of his touches,” White said. “He’s a really talented young man. He’s got two-guard skill and feel at 6-9ish. He’s got a big, strong frame with length. He’s got a really high basketball IQ. Soft hands. He’s good at a lot. He’s a heck of a talent.” 

Florida guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr (24) goes up and under the basket to score Thursday against Milwaukee at Exactech Arena.

UF forward Colin Castleton, who garnered professional interest himself prior to returning for his senior season, said he wasn’t aware of the scouts in attendance, though he was cognizant of the threat Baldwin posed prior to taking the floor. 

“I didn’t even know anybody was here. I didn’t really pay attention to that. I know we had played against a really highly touted freshman who was really good,” Castleton said. “We just tried to make his night as difficult as possible, and their night as difficult as possible, but I didn’t really pay any mind to that. Just focused on our team and what we’re going to do.”

Castleton finished the game with a season-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds, giving the DeLand native his fifth career double-double and his second straight. Castleton became the first UF player with consecutive double-double performances since Keyontae Johnson did so in Feb. 2020. 

Second half shutdown

Leading by 11 at halftime, the Gators did more than just maintain the double-digit lead as play resumed.

Florida went on a decisive 32-4 run across the opening 11:51 of the second half to erase any notion the Panthers had of mounting a comeback. 

Tyree Appleby had 12 of his 14 points in the second half, all of which came on three-pointers. The former Cleveland State transfer entered the contest with history against Milwaukee, too, having scored a career-high 33 points against the Panthers back on Jan. 3, 2019 in a conference match-up. 

Having connected on eight of his 18 three-point attempts through three games this season, Appleby credited his offseason preparation with his continued improvement as a shooter. 

“I stayed here for both summers,” Appleby said, “so it’s from just working out, getting stronger and preparing for this season, that’s about it.” 

Winning inside the arc 

Though the Gators didn’t build the early lead off the backs of shooting from downtown, as just two of UF’s 15 makes in the first 20 minutes came from three-point range. 

But Florida found plenty of success in the post, outscoring the Panthers 24-10 down low in the first half while winning the rebounding battle, 24-16. 

White credited the frontcourt, led by Castleton, for setting the tone early. 

“He established himself early on the interior. I liked his energy level from the jump. Played with some physicality, played with some poise,” White said of the former Michigan transfer. “Fortunate for us that he got going on the interior, because we really struggled from three.” 

Rather than have a result-oriented perspective, White didn’t feel as if the struggles were a result of Florida attempting low-percentage shots, however. Considering their high level of confidence, White wants this team to have a quick trigger when a player has a shot worth taking. 

“I liked our looks,” White said. “Something we talked about at halftime (was) I was a little disappointed in our reluctancy to let it fly, with our confidence level. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half. If it’s a good shot, let’s take it. I don’t care whether you’ve missed your last three or you’ve made your last three, we know on this team who can shoot it and what type of shots we’re looking for from each individual. And if it’s our shot, let’s just shoot it with confidence and let’s attack the offensive glass.” 

Florida guard Tyree Appleby drives the lane Thursday against Milwaukee at Exactech Arena.

No. 24 Florida 81, Milwaukee 45

MILWAUKEE (1-2)

Bol 0-0 0-0 0, Baldwin 6-15 1-2 13, Gholston 2-7 0-0 5, Newby 2-7 0-0 5, Thomas 2-9 0-0 4, St. Pierre 3-5 0-2 6, Browning 3-8 5-7 11, Kane 0-1 0-0 0, Lathon 0-2 0-0 0, Sinani 0-1 0-0 0, Baker 0-2 1-2 1, Hancock 0-1 0-0 0, Ross 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-58 7-13 45.

FLORIDA (3-0)

Castleton 9-17 1-3 19, Duruji 4-7 3-3 12, Appleby 5-8 0-0 14, Jones 3-6 0-0 7, McKissic 3-9 0-0 7, Fleming 5-11 0-0 12, Felder 1-2 0-0 3, Reeves 1-3 0-0 3, Jitoboh 1-3 0-0 2, Kennedy 0-1 0-0 0, Lane 0-1 2-2 2, Klatsky 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-68 6-8 81.

Halftime_Florida 33-22. 3-Point Goals_Milwaukee 2-12 (Gholston 1-2, Newby 1-4, Baker 0-1, Hancock 0-1, Lathon 0-1, Baldwin 0-3), Florida 11-28 (Appleby 4-7, Fleming 2-5, Duruji 1-1, Felder 1-2, Reeves 1-2, Jones 1-3, McKissic 1-6, Castleton 0-1, Kennedy 0-1). Rebounds_Milwaukee 29 (Browning 6), Florida 43 (Castleton 10). Assists_Milwaukee 7 (Newby 3), Florida 21 (Appleby, Jones 5). Total Fouls_Milwaukee 12, Florida 14.

Up next

What: Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off

Who: California vs. Florida. Seton Hall will face No. 19 Ohio State at 6 p.m. Two days later, the winners will play each other for the title, while the losers face off for third place.

When: 8:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers

TV: FS1

Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM 

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