GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)Florida coach Todd Golden is growing a beard and insists it has nothing to do with his team’s winning streak.
Regardless, he’s unlikely to shave before the Gators’ next game.
Colin Castleton had 16 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, and Florida rallied from 11 down to upend No. 20 Missouri 73-64 on Saturday.
Castleton chipped in six assists, three steals and two blocks as the Gators (10-7, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won their third consecutive game. He made 7 of 11 shots and finished with five offensive boards.
The 22-year-old senior, who came to Florida after two years at Michigan, also became the school’s second transfer to top 1,000 points in Gainesville.
”Feels good,” he said. ”I’ve been in college a long time – feel like a grandpa sometimes.”
Missouri (13-4, 2-3) lost its third in a row on the road, this one mostly because it had no answer for Castleton inside. Even when the Tigers double-teamed the 6-foot-11 senior forward, he managed to find a shooter or cutter. His best one may have been when he delivered a bounce pass to Alex Fudge for a dunk with a little more than four minutes to play.
That score created a frenzy in the O’Connell Center, where the home crowd is getting a good sense of Golden’s ability to coach defense. Florida’s last nine opponents have made just 26.3% from 3-point range. The defensive turnaround has keyed the team’s winning streak.
”We were at .500 when we came together and knew we have to figure this out,” Castleton said. ”We had lost a couple close ones, but you can’t get those back. You can only get the ones in front of you.”
Will Richard added 18 points thanks mostly to four 3-pointers for Florida, and Riley Kugel chipped in 13 points and five rebounds. The Gators hit 10 of 23 from 3-point range, including 6 of 13 in the second half.
Missouri scored the first 11 points of the game and looked like it might cruise. But Florida settled down, turned up its defense and tied it up at halftime despite 14 turnovers.
”We knew if we took care of the basketball we’d beat them,” Florida’s Myreon Jones said.
Kobe Brown led the Tigers with 21 points. Noah Carter added 12, and Tre Gomillion chipped in 11. Gomillion tweaked his left ankle in the final minutes when Richard landed on him while collecting a rebound, but he stayed in the game.
Mizzou coach Dennis Gates said part of the issue was Brown only getting to the free throw line six times despite his team outscoring Florida 42-26 in the paint.
”I thought he should have went to the foul line a lot more,” Gates said. ”He should have been in double digits in foul shots, and he wasn’t tonight.”
Having lost three of its last four games since beating Illinois and Kentucky, Missouri could drop out of The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll.
Missouri: The Tigers fell to 0-3 on the road in conference play, hardly a concerning trend given they played at Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida. The road slate gets a little easier for Mizzou moving forward, with games at Ole Miss and at Mississippi State upcoming.
Florida: Gators coach Todd Golden shortened his bench against Missouri, using just eight guys after forward CJ Felder left the team earlier in the week for personal reasons. Point guard Trey Bonham played just eight minutes, and backup center Jason Jitoboh didn’t get in the game.
Missouri returns home for two straight, beginning with a rematch against No. 15 Arkansas on Wednesday night.
Florida plays at Texas A&M on Wednesday. The Aggies beat the Gators two weeks earlier in Gainesville.
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