Thu, 25 Feb 2021

Florida looks to maintain momentum at Mississippi State

Field Level Media
16 Jan 2021, 03:55 GMT+10

Florida used a second-half turnaround to win its last game, while Mississippi State lost its last game because of a second-half collapse.

The Gators and Bulldogs will meet in a Southeastern Conference game on Saturday afternoon in Starkville, Miss.

Florida (6-3, 3-2 SEC) trailed visiting Ole Miss 61-52 with 6 1/2 minutes left Tuesday night. The Gators outscored the Rebels 20-2 the rest of the way, including a 14-0 run to close the game en route to a 72-63 win.

The victory came after back-to-back lopsided losses to Kentucky and Alabama.

"We needed this one very bad," said Tre Mann, who scored 17 points. "This was a desperation win. I think that's why we played as hard as we did down the stretch."

The turning point came when Florida switched from a zone to man-to-man defense just before the decisive run.

Gators coach Mike White attributed the turnaround to "a lot of physical and mental toughness, which is something we talk about as much as anything."

Colin Castleton scored 21 points and had career highs of 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots.

"We had a disturbing performance against Kentucky," Castleton said of a 76-58 loss three days earlier. "We got back to work the next day and had some things to fix. We played hard, played unselfish and bounced back really well."

Mississippi State (8-5, 3-2) led visiting Texas AM by 13 points early in the second half Wednesday night, but couldn't hold the lead. The Aggies scored 13 unanswered points to tie the score at 40 midway through the half.

The Bulldogs rebuilt a six-point lead with 5:14 left, but Texas AM rallied again with a 12-2 run. That gave the Aggies a 56-52 lead with 1:52 left. MSU scored the final three points, but couldn't pull even, and the Aggies emerged with a 56-55 win.

Bulldogs coach Ben Howland took responsibility for his team's shortcomings.

"I thought there were a couple key factors to the game," Howland said. "One was that they were playing a lot of players. I have to use our bench better because I thought that they really wore us down.

"Another key factor, and it's all on me, was our attack of their press. I thought their press got better in the second half. We had a little fatigue, but I thought what we were doing was too tentative. We never hurt them in our press offense, but we stayed in it."

--Field Level Media

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