Florida Gators basketball gets second chance as they host Ole Miss Rebels for rematch

Graham Hall
UF basketball writer

Having suffered a 16-point loss at Ole Miss on Jan. 24, the Florida men’s basketball team gets another crack at downing the Rebels when the teams meet at 3:30 p.m. in the Exactech Arena. 

The Gators (14-8, 4-5 SEC) and Rebels have both dealt with considerable injuries throughout the season, with the latest notable instance coming in Mississippi’s 76-72 win Tuesday night at LSU. 

Daeshun Ruffin, the first McDonald’s All-American signee in the Rebels’ program history, suffered a torn ACL in his right knee against the Tigers, ending the freshman point guard’s promising season. 

Ruffin, who has yet to undergo surgery for his injury, was the Rebels’ second-leading scorer prior to going down, averaging 12.7 points per game while shooting 37.3 percent from the field. 

Mississippi (12-10, 3-6) also lost senior forward Robert Allen to an ACL injury in early December.

“You hate to see that for anybody, but especially a guy, he started the season with injuries, and he was coming into his own,” White said of Ruffin’s injury. “He was dominant against us in Oxford. We’ve experienced it a lot. I hate it for Kermit (Davis) and his staff, and the Rebels overall, but especially for Daeshun. We wish him the best.”

Last time:3 takeaways from Florida Gators men's basketball team's loss at Ole Miss

Earlier this week:4 takeaways from the Florida Gators' 66-65 men's basketball victory at Missouri

David Whitley:Kelly Finley leading Florida Gators women's basketball from scandal to success

Colin Castleton remains out for Gators

In the frontcourt, the Gators — in addition to losing Jason Jitoboh for the season — remain without Colin Castleton.

The senior forward from DeLand hasn’t played since Jan. 17, and UF hasn’t said much regarding a timeline or diagnosis for his return, though the program refuses to rule out the possibility of an imminent return.

“He hasn’t done much against physical contact, but we’ll see,” White said of Castleton. “I know he’s eager to try to help these guys. He’s close with these guys, it’s a tight-knit group. Colin’s competitive. He’s dying to be out there.”

Whitley:Gators pass their first post-Colin Castleton test, but more are coming fast for Florida basketball

Senior guard Myreon Jones, who turned his ankle late in the team’s 66-65 comeback win Wednesday afternoon at Missouri, should be available after his highest-scoring performance with the Gators (18 points). 

“I tweaked it a little bit,” Jones said. “I’m just getting treatment on it, but I should be ready to go.”

White mentioned Jones didn’t do much in Friday’s practice session, however.

“He didn’t do a lot today in practice,” White said, “because of his ankle situation.”

Florida's Phlandrous Fleming, right, saves the ball from going out of bounds in front of Missouri's Kaleb Brown, left, and Kobe Brown, center, during the first half Wednesday, in Columbia, Mo.

Florida has been impressive of late from three-point range, converting double-digit attempts in four of the previous six contests.

It’s largely due to UF migrating away from a freelance-heavy offense and toward more of a set-oriented offense with a gaping hole in the low post. The Gators know they need to generate attempts from long-range, and the offense has evolved to give Florida’s shooters an ideal look at the basket as a result. 

Facing an Ole Miss team ranked inside the inside the top-30 in Division I basketball when it comes to three-point defense, however, that may prove rather difficult. 

“We better be right with our mentality if we want to be competitive against Ole Miss, who’s coming off maybe their biggest win of the year at LSU,” White said, “We’ve got to be much better, in different areas.”

Florida’s projected starters

Anthony Duruji F 6-7   220    R-Sr    10.0 ppg  4.4 rpg

Tyree Appleby G 6-1 163      Sr.    10.9 ppg   2.2 rpg

Brandon McKissic G 6-3   185   Gr. 6.3 ppg   3.2 rpg

Kowacie Reeves G 6-6   182    Fr. 5.2  ppg 1.3 rpg

Phlandrous Fleming Jr. G 6-5   205   Gr.  10.5 ppg 3.8 rpg

Ole Miss’ projected starters

Jaemyn Brakefield F  6-8  220 So. 8.5 ppg 4.1 rpg

Nysier Brooks C 7-0  245 Gr. 9.5 ppg  8.0 rpg

Matthew Murrell G 6-4   200 So.  10.4 ppg  3.0 rpg

Tye Fagan G 6-3   198 Sr.    7.4 ppg  3.5 rpg

Luis Rodriguez G 6-6   210 Jr. 6.9 ppg  5.1 rpg

Notes: Sophomore forward Tuongthach Gatkek blocked a career-high five shots in the win at Missouri, including one on a potential game-winning attempt by the Tigers. ... Ole Miss will look for its first season sweep over the Gators since 2014-15, though UF hasn’t lost to Ole Miss at home under White. ... Florida made its final 17 free throw attempts at Missouri, with Tyree Appleby hitting 10 of the 17. 


What: Mississippi at Florida 

Where: Exactech Arena

When: 3:30 p.m.


Radio: AM-850, 98.1-FM