Florida's 46 first-half points propel Gators to 80-60 win over Cal in Fort Myers Tip-Off

Alex Martin
Fort Myers News-Press
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The intensity was up Monday night at Suncoast Credit Union Arena for Mike White and his team.

Squaring off against the Cal Golden Bears in the first round of the Fort Myers Tip-Off, the Gators started off slow before taking over in front of a Florida-friendly crowd, winning 80-60 thanks in part to 46 first half points and a stingy defense that held Cal to 27 points in the opening 20 minutes. 

A relatively even distribution on scoring gave Florida an advantage, as Myreon Jones, Castleton, Tyree Appleby, and Phlandrous Fleming Jr. all eclipsed double figures. C.J. Felder and Duruji nearly joined them, finishing with 8 and 7 points, respectively.

Florida's Anthony Duruji slams home a dunk against Cal in the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.

"Pretty good ball movement, obviously wasn't perfect, but there's some stuff to clean up, with setting and using screens " White said postgame. "A couple of decisions here and there that we've got to sharpen. The overall level of unselfishness we continue to talk about, is good for offenses to have. We shared it. We shared it again.

"Colin led us in some of those plays. He created those shots. Outside of him, being prolific on the block, I do think we shared and moved it pretty well."

The Gators started slow, and were up 7-6 at the under-16 media timeout. From there, Florida built a double-digit lead with under four minutes to play in the first half. 

The Gators seized on their chances at the charity stripe, making 14-of-15 free throws in the first half to help build the lead, and finished 18-of-21 for the game.

Florida coach Mike White during the first round of the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.

"We've spent a lot of time on that as a team," White said. "As recent as this morning, 10 or 11 a.m. at a local high school, and got a ton of free throws up. We do every day. It's critical that you can convert at the free throw line."

With 18:06 remaining in the second half, Colin Castleton netted a steal before placing a perfect bounce pass to Anthony Duruji in transition, who slammed home a dunk to put the Gators up 52-28.

"It felt good, being able to push the ball up the court," Castleton said. "I felt like I was 6-foot for a second. I saw Ruj, and he runs like a track star so I only had to take like two or three dribbles, and I knew he was going to dunk it so I knew I had an assist right away.

"I felt like a guard for a couple of seconds, but I had to get back in my center mindset."

Florida's Brandon McKissic tries to get past Cal's Joel Brown in the first round of the Fort Myers Tip-Off on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021.

As a team, Florida shot 51.9 percent from the field, while Cal was right at 44 percent. White's defense took many Cal possessions deep into the shot clock, not giving the Golden Bears many great looks offensively.

Because of the stingy defense, Florida (4-0) forced 18 turnovers, which is a new season-high.

The Gators, who are ranked 24th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, will now take on Ohio State (4-1) on Wednesday for the Fort Myers Tip-Off Championship Game. Tip off is slated for 8:30 p.m. on FS1. 

No. 23 Florida 80, California 60

CALIFORNIA (2-3)

Anticevich 3-6 0-0 6, Kelly 3-4 3-5 9, Brown 2-3 1-2 5, Foreman 0-7 2-2 2, Shepherd 5-10 5-6 15, Celestine 3-6 0-0 7, Thiemann 3-3 2-5 8, Kuany 2-6 0-0 5, Hyder 0-0 0-0 0, Alajiki 1-4 1-1 3, Anyanwu 0-1 0-0 0, Klonaras 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-50 14-21 60.

FLORIDA (4-0)

Castleton 6-11 4-6 16, Duruji 3-4 0-0 7, Appleby 4-8 7-7 15, Jones 5-8 0-0 13, McKissic 1-3 1-2 3, Fleming 3-7 4-4 11, Felder 3-4 0-0 8, Kennedy 1-4 0-0 3, Lane 1-1 0-0 2, Jitoboh 0-2 2-2 2, Reeves 0-0 0-0 0, Gatkek 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-52 18-21 80.

Halftime_Florida 46-27. 3-Point Goals_California 2-10 (Kuany 1-1, Celestine 1-3, Shepherd 0-1, Foreman 0-5), Florida 8-19 (Jones 3-6, Felder 2-3, Duruji 1-1, Fleming 1-2, Kennedy 1-3, Appleby 0-2, McKissic 0-2). Rebounds_California 23 (Kelly 4), Florida 23 (Castleton 8). Assists_California 7 (Shepherd 2), Florida 10 (Castleton, Appleby 3). Total Fouls_California 13, Florida 16. A_3,500 (3,300).

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