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PREVIEW & LIVE GAME THREAD: Missouri visits Gainesville and a Gator team looking for a ranked win

Florida (9-7, 2-2) sits tied with the Tigers in the conference standings and is on a two-game winning streak

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Texas A&M Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri 64 | Florida 73


1st Half Notes

  • Mizzou Starters: Tre Gomillion, D’Moi Hodge, Nick Honor, Ronnie DeGray III and Kobe Brown
  • Florida Starters: Trey Bonham, Alex Fudge, Will Richard, Kyle Lofton, Colin Castleton
  • Mizzou won tip, and Kobe Brown scores the first points of the game.
  • Florida calls a timeout within minutes, as the Tigers jump out to a quick 9-0 advantage. Mizzou is 4-4 from the field, and Brown has four points.
  • Kowacie Reeves gets the Gators on the board with a layup. He’ll have an opportunity for a three-point play after a foul was called.
  • The Tigers have shot well early, and a couple of missed three-pointers are the difference from this being a much larger advantage.
  • Sean East II snaps a two-minute long scoreless stretch for Mizzou with a signature midrange jumper.
  • Freshman Riley Kugel with Florida’s first three-pointer on the day and he adds another one on the Gators’ next possession.
  • Mizzou calls a timeout as the Gator fight right back into the game behind Castleton, who has four points.
  • The Tigers have made just 1 of their last 7 shot attempts. Mizzou has capitalized via the free throw line, but shots will need to fall if the Tigers want to hold the lead.
  • Kobe Brown up to two fouls, and the ensuing free throws tie the game.
  • Brown helps Mizzou retake the lead with a two-handed slam. The Tigers are out-rebounding Florida and have forced 10 turnovers, but cannot pull away due to inefficient shooting.
  • A Kyle Lofton three-pointer gives the Gators their first lead, and Noah Carter responds with a layup and-one.
  • Tied game at halftime. Mizzou’s inefficient shooting, especially from beyond the arc, has limited its ability to capitalize on Florida’s turnovers.

2nd Half Notes

  • Nick Honor begins the second half with a layup, and Richard knocks down a three-pointer for Florida.
  • Tre Gomillion is up to 11 points, one shy of his season-high.
  • Castleton and Richard have combined for 18 Florida points.
  • Mizzou has the same number of points off turnovers as the Gators despite forcing five more turnovers.
  • A trio of Gators—Richard, Castleton and Kugel—are in double-figures.
  • Mo Diarra’s scores his first Mizzou points since SIUE on Nov. 15.
  • Second chance points and missed shots are the difference between Florida and Mizzou in the second half.
  • Mizzou is 2-12 from beyond the arc today, while Florida showcases an 8-20 mark.
  • Diarra adds a layup to snap another scoreless drought from the Tigers’ offense that is struggling to operate in the half court.
  • Castleton is up to 16 points and 12 rebounds.
  • That Castleton to Fudge dunk may have sealed this game unless Mizzou can find its shooting touch again.
  • Mizzou trims the deficit to six points, showcasing its ability to keep fighting.
  • Gomillion goes down after a foul clutching his left ankle.
  • Mizzou falls to Florida in Gainesville, failing to pick up its first SEC road victory.

Pregame Updates

A Couple Mizzou Football Updates:

5 Fan Questions:

  1. Who will lead the team in scoring?
  2. How many 3-pointers will D’Moi Hodge have?
  3. How many turnovers will Mizzou force?
  4. What will the halftime score be?
  5. How many points will Kobe Brown have?

Lastly, drop your game predictions and MVPs down below.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Texas A&M Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers venture into The Swamp to take on the 9-7 (2-2) Florida Gators in a pivotal swing game in the SEC. The Gators need a quality win to continue to bolster their tournament résumé, while Missouri is looking to pick up its first conference road win before returning home for a two-game stand against ranked foes.

Missouri suffered their first conference loss against Arkansas in Fayetteville last week, but then rebounded with a gritty win over Vanderbilt a week ago. The Tigers then ran into a hot Texas A&M team on Wednesday night, and the team’s poor shooting did nothing to help that in an 82-64 loss. Those ever-elusive “conference road victories” are hard to come by, but they are so sweet when they do happen. Dennis Gates is hoping to get his first taste of that with a win on Saturday.

The “O-Dome” will be packed for a Gators’ team that is on a two-game winning streak. After falling to Auburn and TAMU to begin SEC play, the Gators have bounced back with wins over LSU in Baton Rouge and at home vs. Georgia.

Game Info

When: Jan. 14

Where: Gainesville, FL

Time: 2:30 p.m. CST

TV: SEC Network

KenPom Win Probability: 38%

The Starters


PG: Nick Honor (Grad)

SG: D’Moi Hodge (Grad)

SF: Tre Gomillion (Grad)

PF: Kobe Brown (SR)

C: Ronnie DeGray III (JR)


PG: Kyle Lofton (SR)

SG: Trey Bonham (JR)

SF: Will Richard (SOPH)

PF: Alex Fudge (SOPH)

C: Colin Castleon (SR)

*The projected starters are based off of previous lineups and pregame updates

Get To Know The Gators

Todd Golden took over for the departed Mike White (who is now head coach at UGA) at the beginning of this season. Fresh off a 24-win season at San Francisco, Golden has gotten off to an iffy start in Gainesville.

The Gators lost to Florida Atlantic early in the season by two points, then lost to Xavier and West Virginia in the Phil Night Legacy Tournament. UConn came to Gainesville in early December and embarrassed Florida, winning 75-54. They also lost to Oklahoma in the Jumpman Invitational to close a non-conference campaign in which the Gators really did not pick up any quality wins to speak of.

To begin SEC play, Florida lost heartbreakers to Auburn and Texas A&M before rebounding with wins over Georgia and LSU. The latter two victories easily classify as UF’s best of the season, and they seem to be playing their best basketball of the season right now.

While they have been overall fairly mediocre in most areas, the Gators do excel in some key spots. They rank 16th in defensive block percentage at 15.2%, and they only allow teams to shoot 43.5% from 2-point range (both in large part thanks to Castleton’s length). Their 92.3 adjusted defensive efficiency and 45% effective field goal percentage for opponents further emphasizes that this is a defense-first team.

On offense, Florida does well to protect the ball with a 16.8 turnover percentage, good for 57th in the nation (via KenPom).

Their main area of struggle? Offensive rebounding. Despite Colin Castleton’s presence, the Gators only corral 24.7% of their misses on offense. A refreshing change from TAMU’s dominant presence on the glass.

Speaking of whom, Castleton is the star of the show for Florida. The 6’11” senior center has played a lot of basketball in his time in Gainesville, and his game has come a long way. He averages 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and has become one of the more dominant post presences in the country. Oh, and he blocks 3.1 shots per game, making life incredibly difficult on slashing guards (i.e. Sean East II, DeAndre Gholston, Nick Honor).

Five other players average at least seven points per game for the Gators. Senior guard Kyle Lofton leads the team in averaging 3.3 assists per game, while forward Alex Fudge has been able to complement Castleton down low and reel in 5.2 rebounds per game.

Will Richard shoots 41.2% from behind the arc and has established himself as the primary distance shooter on this team. Kowacie Reeves fills a similar role, yet he is coming off a 1-for-8 performance from three-point territory against LSU. Fellow guard Trey Bonham adds on 9.5 points per game and rounds out a deep backcourt for the Gators.

3 Keys To The Game

  1. Containing Colin Castleton

Florida’s veteran big man has been a problem for opposing teams for years now. The senior can be a matchup nightmare down in the post, especially for a smaller team like Mizzou.

The Tigers struggled to defend the likes of Oscar Tshiebwe (UK), KJ Adams Jr. (KU) and Luke Robbins (VU) when they played them, as paint defense remains a weak point for this roster. It will be a group effort, likely divided between Brown, Noah Carter and Ronnie DeGray III, to handle Castleton down low and keep him off the glass.

2. Get some shots to fall

Basketball is a simple game. When the ball goes into the basket a lot for a team, they usually win. On Wednesday, Missouri suffered through its worst shooting performance of the season, shooting 35.6% from the floor and 22.6% from three-point range. For a team that tends to live and die by the three-point shot, they died by it on Wednesday.

But, with how this team plays offense and the quality of shooters that they have, that trend just will not last. Gates will adjust some of the early game offense to get his guys in a rhythm on Saturday, but more open looks will fall then they did on Wednesday, regardless. Look for Hodge and Honor to get shots up early and often as this team looks to find its offensive swagger again.

3. Handle the opposition’s runs

Wednesday night was certainly a game of runs for Missouri and Texas A&M. The Aggies exploded to a 21-2 run in the first half and took a large lead into halftime. Then, the Tigers responded with one of their own to cut the TAMU lead to four in the second half…before the Aggies closed the game on a 29-15 run.

A game like that will almost always favor the home team, as they have the crowd and most momentum behind them. The Tigers can not afford to fall behind by 21 in Gainesville, because the Gators will feed off of their raucous crowd and likely run away with the game. Gates and Co. need to stop opposing scoring runs earlier and refrain from having to mount another second-half rally. Of course, that is easier said than done.


My Score Prediction: Missouri 74 | Florida 68

KenPom Prediction: Florida 81 | Missouri 77

Winning on the road in the SEC is tough, no matter who you are playing. But, when you’re playing a team that’s desperate for a big win, then it becomes all the more difficult.

Missouri has to adjust to life being the hunted rather than the hunters. They did not seem to be comfortable in that role on Wednesday when Texas A&M, a team in a similar situation to Florida, gave them their best shot.

Containing Colin Castleton is priority number one. Despite Missouri’s team success, they have struggled to defend top-tier big men (Adams Jr., Tshiebwe, Robbins, etc.). Outside of him, there isn’t any other Gator player that you look at and are convinced could completely take over this game, but all of the guards have the potential to be dangerous.

For the Tigers, this game really comes down to if they can get back to playing their style of basketball. They need to dictate the pace of this game like they did for that nine minute period in the second half of the TAMU game. That means forcing turnovers, pushing the pace and hitting the open looks when they are there.

At the end of the day, shooting percentage can be a roll of the dice on a night-to-night basis. But, you would have to expect that Mizzou will shoot better on Saturday (editor’s note: if only because the Stegers will be in attendance). Gates will likely get Hodge, Honor and Carter some open looks early in this game to build their confidence back up.

On top of all of that, one of the biggest reasons Missouri lost on Wednesday was the rebounding margin. While Castleton and Fudge do reel in plenty of boards, they do not attack the offensive glass the same way the Aggies do, making this a much more favorable matchup for the Tigers.

So, Mizzou just needs to contain Castleton in the post, play their brand of basketball, and handle themselves appropriately in a road environment. Do that, and the Tigers return to Columbia 14-3 with two big opportunities ahead of them.