Florida tops No. 20 Mizzou behind Castleton’s double-double

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Florida coach Todd Golden is growing a beard and insists it has nothing to do with …

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.

Collin Castleton had 16 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season and No. 11 Florida rallied to beat No. 20 Missouri 73-64 on Saturday.

Castleton had six assists, three steals and two blocks as the Gators (10-7, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won their third straight 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 top-1,000-point transfer in Gainesville.

“I feel good,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been in college—I feel like a grandpa sometimes.”

Missouri (13-4, 2-3) lost its third straight on the road, largely because it had no answer for Castleton inside. Even when the Tigers teamed up with the 6-foot-11 senior forward, he was able to find a shooter or cutter. Perhaps his best came when he made a rebound pass to Alex Fudge for a dunk with just over four minutes to play.

The score sent a frenzy into the O’Connell Center, where the home crowd got a good taste of Golden’s ability to coach the defense. Florida’s last nine opponents have shot just 26.3% from three-point range. The defensive turnaround was the key to the team’s winning streak.

“When we came together, we were at .500 and we knew we had to figure it out,” Castleton said. “We lost a couple of loved ones, but you can’t bring them back. You can only get the ones in front of you.’

Will Richard added 18 points, mostly thanks to four 3-pointers for Florida, while Riley Kugel had 13 points and five rebounds. The Gators shot 10 of 23 from three-point range, including 6 of 13 in the second half.

Missouri scored the first 11 points of the game and looked like they might be able to pull it off. But Florida settled down, tightened up its defense and tied the score at halftime despite 14 turnovers.

“We knew if we took care of the basketball, we were going to beat them,” Florida’s Mireon Jones said.

Kobe Brown led the Tigers with 21 points. Noah Carter added 12 and Tre Gomillion scored 11. Gomillion tweaked his left ankle in the final minutes when Richard landed on him while grabbing a rebound, but stayed in the game.

Mizzou coach Dennis Gates said part of the problem was that Brown only got to the free throw line six times despite his team outscoring Florida 42-26.

“I thought he should have gone to the foul line a lot more,” Gates said. “He should have been in double figures in free throws and he wasn’t tonight.”

CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY

After losing three of its last four games after wins over Illinois and Kentucky, Missouri could be eliminated from the Top 25 Associated Press men’s college basketball poll.

THE BIG PICTURE

Missouri: The Tigers fell to 0-3 on the road in conference play, hardly a concern considering they played at Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida. The road gets a little easier for Mizzou moving forward with games at Ole Miss and Mississippi State coming up.

Florida: Gators coach Todd Golden trimmed his bench to just eight men against Missouri after forward C.J. Felder left the team earlier in the week for personal reasons. Point guard Trey Bonham played just eight minutes and backup center Jason Jitaboh did not play.

FURTHER

Missouri returns home for two straight, starting 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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