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Florida wins SEC men’s basketball opener at Vanderbilt

Castleton’s career-high effort leads UF victory after long layoff
Florida forward Anthony Duruji hangs from the rim after a dunk during the first half of the...
Florida forward Anthony Duruji hangs from the rim after a dunk during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/John Amis)(John Amis | AP)
Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 11:20 PM EST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WCJB) -Making their return to action for the first time since Keyontae Johnson’s on-court medical emergency on Dec. 12, the Florida men’s basketball team defeated Vanderbilt, 91-72 in Wednesday’s SEC opener in Nashville.

Florida improves to 4-1 overall while Vanderbilt drops to 4-3 overall.

Colin Castleton led five Gators in double figures with a career-high 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting in his best performance since transferring to Florida from Michigan. Fellow transfers Anthony Duruji and Tyree Appleby combined to score 24 and Scottie Lewis put in 16.

The Gators came out hot, hitting nine of their first 14 field goal attempts. Nine players scored in the first half as Florida led at the break, 43-29. The Gators were also active defensively, forcing 10 first half turnovers.

In the second half, the Commodores pulled to within 47-41 but the Gators answered with a 17-6 run. Noah Locke’s off-balance jumper while drawing a foul made it 62-47 Gators with 11:53 to go and marked Florida’s eighth bucket in a span of ten shots.

At the other end of the floor, Florida held Vanderbilt’s top scorer, Scotty Pippen Jr. to 18 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Pippen came in averaging 23.6 points per game and shooting 43.6 percent shooting from three-point range.

Florida has won five straight meetings against the Commodores and has now prevailed in three straight visits to Vanderbilt, a feat accomplished only once before by UF (2001-03).

The Gators also improve to 5-1 in SEC openers under Mike White.

Florida returns to the O’Connell Center on Saturday for just its second home game this season, against LSU. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. The Tigers defeated Texas A&M, 77-54 in Tuesday’s SEC opener to reach 6-1 overall.

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