O'Dome stunner: 3 takeaways from Florida basketball's 76-74 loss to Florida Atlantic
Florida's men's basketball team suffered its first loss of the Todd Golden era, as underdog Florida Atlantic built a 14-point second half lead and held on for a 76-74 win over the Gators Monday before an announced 7,180 at the O'Connell Center.
FAU pulled off the upset by making 13 3-pointers and shooting a blistering 54.2 percent (13 of 24) from 3-point range.
"We just got bombed out tonight," Golden said. "A lot of it was in transition. They did a really good job locating shooters in transition and the way they play, it's a difficult guard."
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It was an emotional win for FAU coach Dusty May, a former Florida assistant from 2015-18 under Mike White. May's son, Jack, played at Gainesville High and is a walk-on guard for the Gators.
It also marked the first time FAU defeated Florida in basketball and FAU's first over a Power Five opponent since 2018, when the Owls upset Illinois on the road.
"This was a great win for our program against a really good basketball and a potential All-American in (Colin) Castleton in a very tough environment," May said. "We battled and I think if you make 13 3s in a college basketball game, you have a great shot of winning."
Down 71-57 with 4:48 remaining, Florida (2-1) went on a 10-0 run, cutting FAU's lead to 71-67 on a Kowacie Reeves' jumper with 2:27 left. Guard Will Richard then hit two free throws for the Gators with 50 seconds left to cut FAU's lead to 74-71 after FAU guard Michael Forrest was whistled for a technical for calling a time out when FAU had no time outs remaining.
But Forrest, who scored a team-high 30 points, redeemed himself by sinking two free throws with 38 seconds left to put FAU (2-1) back up 76-71.
"I'm really, really happy for Mike, who made a blunder," May said. "If we lose this game, he feels terrible and then he bounces back 30 seconds later and swishes two huge free throws that really gives us that separation."
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Transition defense struggles
Florida Atlantic outscored Florida 21-8 in fast-break points. Too often, off missed shots or turnovers, Florida allowed FAU's shooters to spring free in transition. Johnell Davis went 4 of 6 from 3-point range, scoring 18 points for FAU. Forrest went 4 of 7 from 3-point range and Alijah Martin went 3 of 4 from 3-point range, including a 3-pointer with 1:38 left that extended FAU's lead to 74-67.
"Awareness was a big part of it," Golden said. "Sorting out. We talk a lot about in transition, you don't have a man. You've got to go find somebody and again in a game like tonight when they are playing four perimeter (players) that can really ping you, if you are late, just by a second, they are going to get it up."
Another big day for Colin Castleton
Castleton finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks, becoming the first Florida basketball player since Anthony Roberson in 2005 to score 30 points in consecutive games. But it wasn't enough for Florida to avoid the upset.
"To be honest, I really don't care because we lost," Castleton said. "I guess it's nice just to have an impact two games in a row. I just want to win. That's all I care about. I don't care how many points I have. I don't care how many shots I made."
It wasn't the most efficient game for the 6-foot-11 Castleton, who went 11 of 25 from the floor. Castleton made his first career 3-pointers but also missed several bunnies close to the basket. FAU 7-foot-1 center Vladislav Goldin forced Castleton into some bad shots, though Castleton was able to get him in foul trouble.
Castleton didn't get much help from his supporting cast. Kyle Lofton and Richard added 14 points apiece. But FAU outscored Florida 34-5 in bench points. Florida's six bench players went a combined 2 of 10 from the floor and 1 of 4 from the foul line.
Florida unable to finish from close range
The Gators shot 38.2 percent from the field for the game, including 18 of 51 on two-point shots. The Gators started the game 4 of 13 from the floor, missing several looks close to the basket.
"It was kind of a funky start for us that way," Golden said. "We just never seemed to get comfortable and credit to them for making it hard on us, but I think most nights, in this given situation, we'll shoot better from 2."
There were some questionable shots as well, particularly down the stretch. With Florida down 61-57 and Reeves the hot hand, Lofton tried to drive the lane with 1:45 left but was unable to finish on a bank shot. With 53 second left and Florida down 74-69, Niels Lane turned the ball over on a drive to the basket.
"We weren't poised enough," Caslteton said. "We just rushed a lot of shots, me included."