Florida basketball: Three takeaways from Florida's season opening win over Stony Brook

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

Florida basketball showed good energy and execution in head coach Todd Golden's debut, beating Stony Brook 81-45 Monday night before 7,377 at the O'Connell Center.

LSU transfer forward Alex Fudge led three Florida scorers in double figures with 16 points. The Gators jumped to a quick 22-3 lead and maintained a double-digit edge the remainder of the game. 

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Florida led 38-22 at halftime and sustained its defensive intensity, holding Stony Brook to 30.8 percent shooting from the floor. The Gators outrebounded the Seawolves 44-28 and outscored them 32-14 in the paint.

The 37-year-old Golden, whose parents attended his first Florida game, has made rebounding and working the ball inside an emphasis in fall camp. 

"We dominated the paint, we did a really good job on the glass and we did a great job taking care of the ball," Golden said. "Those are areas that don't require a lot of talent. It's all about being physical and having the will and desire to go get.

Florida made its 2022-23 season debut under new head coach Todd Golden on Monday night.

"My initial takeaway is I'm really pleased we're up by 30 in the second half and we're still trying to play the right way. We don't have guys trying to go out there, get their baskets, being lazy defensively."

Here are three takeaways:

Colin Castleton has a good floor game in season debut

Castleton, Florida's preseason All-SEC center, displayed a well-rounded game on both ends of the floor. He had an early steal and breakaway dunk to give Florida a 9-0 lead, forcing Stony Brook to call a timeout. Later in the first half, he fought through a double-team for a spinning basket, then after blocking a shot, brought the ball upcourt like a point guard and found Fudge on a bounce pass for a transition finish. 

Castleton sat out an extended period in the second half after taking a shot to his surgically repaired shoulder on a hard foul but returned late in the game to finish with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 3 assists in 26 minutes

After the game, Castleton said his shoulder was OK.

"I'll just ice it up tomorrow," Castleton said. "It's going to happen throughout the year, just getting hit on it, getting sore, but I'll be fine."

Fudge highlights Florida's depth

Fudge made an immediate impact as one of Florida's first three subs of the bench. He scored seven straight points during a 10-0 run that gave the Gators an early 22-3 lead, capping the 10-0 run with a corner 3-pointer.

The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Fudge displayed his athleticism with dunks and driving finishes to the basket.

Florida outscored Stony Brook 35-13 in bench points as 13 different players scored for the Gators, with walk-ons Alex Klatsky (3-pointer) and Jack May (two points) scoring in the closing minutes. Freshman guard Riley Kugel scored 5 points in his Florida debut, while backup point guard Trey Bonham sank a 3-pointer and had 4 assists.

 "We can go deep and we have weapons on the bench," Fudge said.

Perimeter shooting picks up in second half

Florida was cold from outside early, going 3 of 15 from 3-point range in the first half before shooting a blistering 70 percent (7-10) from beyond the arc in the second half to finish 40 percent (10-25) from long distance.

Sophomore guard Will Richard had the best shooting day for the Gators, going 4 of 5 from the field and 2 of 3 from 3-point range to finish with 14 points.

Stony Brook came out in a 2-3 zone defense and stayed with it for the full 40 minutes, daring Florida to shoot over it. 

"In the first half, we were rushing a lot of our 3s," Richard said. "Just getting the ball moving and getting in the middle of the zone and just getting good looks and taking our time to knock it down, that helped a lot in the second half."