Florida basketball: 3 takeaways from the Gators' 88-78 win over Kennesaw State

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

Florida's second game under head coach Todd Golden didn't go as smoothly as its first, but the end result was an 88-78 win over Kennesaw State Friday night before an announced 9,072 at the O'Connell Center.

The Gators (2-0) got a career-high 33 points from senior forward Colin Castleton. Florida shot better than 50% from the floor for the second straight game, making 54.5% from the field and 36.4% (4-11) from the 3-point line. 

Starting guard Will Richard added 15 points for the Gators and starting forward Kowacie Reeves scored 11 points, including a pair of timely 3-pointers in the second half that helped the Gators maintain a double-digit lead.

"Offensively, I think we played well enough and with purpose," Golden said

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Florida led by as many as 14 points in the first half and 17 in the second half, but Kennesaw State (1-1) hung around by shooting 53.1% and scoring 44 points in the second half. Florida finished the game with a slim 48-42 edge against Kennesaw State on points in the paint and allowed the Owls to grab 11 offensive rebounds. 

"Defense and rebounding, those are the two things that for the most part don't require talent," Golden said. "It's more about just being alert, being on the scout and we were not as good that way tonight as we were on Monday night against Stony Brook."

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Colin Castleton shows off versatility in career night

Castleton went 12 of 18 from the floor and 9 of 13 from the foul line, drawing eight fouls. He added nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in more than 34 minutes on the floor in another strong all-around effort.

Florida forward Colin Castleton (12), shooting during the Orange & Blue Scrimmage on Nov. 1, had a career night against Kennesaw State, shooting 12 of 18 from the floor and 9 of 13 from the foul line for his 33 points, while adding 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in more than 34 minutes on the floor.

Highlights of Castleton's night included driving three-quarters of the court off a steal for a finish, hitting a fall-away 17-foot jumper late in the first half and taking the ball strong through a double team in the lane in the second half.

"As a team, we imposed our will in the paint," Castleton said. "I was trying to take my will into the game. My teammates were putting me in good spots whether it was ball screen coverages that they were playing me and just popping passes and finding my little spots on the floor where I could get easy ones."

Senior point guard Kyle Lofton fouls out on technical 

It was a foul-filled night for Lofton, who picked up two fouls within the first four minutes of the game and fouled out with 12:21 left after being whistled for a technical by crew chief Rob Rorke for arguing after committing his fourth foul. The St. Bonaventure transfer finished the game with nine points and two assists.

"As a senior, you can't allow that to happen," Golden said. "We talk a lot about being the mentally and physically tougher team and in that stretch of the game we just weren't. We let the emotions of the game, some calls that went one way or the other, affect the way that we behaved."

With Lofton out, Golden turned to senior Myreon Jones off the bench to run the offense over backup point guard Trey Bonham, who had a loud turnover that led to a Kennesaw State runout basket in the first half. 

"I just thought Myreon was a little more comfortable out there," Golden said. "Trey had a run in the first half where he looked a little sped up and not himself and not as comfortable. So we leaned on Myreon as kind of a veteran, experienced to be able to just get us into our offense and keep it simple and he was able to do that." 

Richard said the adversity of playing without Lofton down the stretch will help the Gators grow in the future.

"It was good to go through that as a team," Richard said. "I think it made us closer."

Defense, rebounding not sharp 

Golden said there were myriad issues on defense that need to be cleaned up, but credited Kennesaw State's tandem of Chris Youngblood and Terrell Burden. Youngblood scored 20 points, while Burden added 14 points and three assists.

"Our ball screen coverage wasn't good enough in the middle of the floor," Golden said. "We had some miscommunications in that ... 

 "We got straight line driven a little too much, guys not being able to keep guys in front but again Kennesaw is a little undersized, they're quick, they're athletic, they're a good offensive team."'

Castleton said Golden wasn't happy with the defensive effort during his postgame address.

"We know we're a better defensive team than what we showed," Castleton said.