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PowerMizzou – Tiger Tip-Off Preview: Florida

January 14th, 2023

No. 20 Mizzou is still in search of its first road win in SEC play after suffering an 82-64 loss at Texas A&M on Wednesday. The Tigers will look to get it this weekend when it takes on Florida.

The Gators played one of the tougher non-conference schedules in the country and came out of it on the winning side, going 7-5. The team dropped its first two games of conference play to No. 20 Auburn and Texas A&M but has since found its footing with wins over Georgia and LSU.

The matchup will pit two first-year head coaches against each other, with Missouri’s Dennis Gates and Florida’s Todd Golden both looking to keep their place in the top half of the league standings. Gates representers going up against the Gators during his time as an assistant coach at Florida State and knows his team is in for a tough challenge.

“This is probably the gauntlet of our season, a very important phase of our season,” Gates said. “Florida is not going to be an easy game at all. Todd Golden, I respect him, known him for a while, great coach. You know, they are in a position where they’re not going to just you know not play their style, right? They’re gonna go in with the with attitude to protect home court, as you should in the SEC.”


No. 20 Missouri (13-3, 2-2 SEC) at Florida (9-7, 2-2)

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. CT

WHERE: Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, Florida

TV: SEC Network

SERIES: Florida leads, 8-4

KENPOM PREDICTION: Florida 81, Missouri 77



1. Contain Colin Castleton. Vanderbilt’s Liam Robbins gave Mizzou a handful when the Tigers and Commodores matched up last week, with the senior center posting 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block. Castleton is a similar player in many ways on both ends of the court. The 6-foot-11 senior center plays almost exclusively inside, but has made 51.2% of his 2-pointers this year. He’s adept at getting to the free throw line, drawing 5.6 fouls per 40 minutes. Castleton is also a sharp playmaker from the post, able to find the open man when defenses send double (and triple) teams his way. On defense, Castleton is an elite rim protector. He averages 3.1 blocks per game, which ranks third in the country, and has a 10.3 block percentage according to KenPom, which ranks 14th in the NCAA. He doesn’t foul much, either, committing just 2.7 per 40 minutes. Gates said he recruited Castleton when he was an assistant at Florida State and considers him to be the third-best big man in the nation, putting only Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Purdue’s Zach Edey ahead of him. He noted that having a shot-blocker like Castleton allows Florida’s other defenders to gamble after steals more on the perimeter. Mizzou will need to take a smart approach going up against the forward.

2. Pressure the ball-handlers. After falling behind by 21 points at the start of the second half in their game against Texas A&M on Wednesday, the Tigers went on a 21-7 run to trim the deficit down to four. The team did so by creating chaos on defense, forcing the Aggies to cough the ball up 11 times during the stretch. The Gators have done a better job of taking care of the ball than Texas A&M this season but are still susceptible to steals, getting possessions ripped away from them 9.8% of the time. Mizzou, which still has the second-best steal rate in the country at 15.8%, will need to keep its hand active.

3. Keep shooting. Missouri had its worst shooting performance of the season against the Aggies. It felt like an anomaly — no one on the team knows for certain what caused it. Texas A&M’s defense was good but the Tigers were missing open shots, too. Mizzou knows it can’t be discouraged by it. Gates said he thinks his team can survive playing seven to 10 minutes of playing bad basketball in a half. But Wednesday’s game showed they can’t survive playing that way for 15 to 20 minutes. Florida’s a middle-of-the-pack team when it comes to defending the 3-point line, with opponents making 33.2% of their treys against the Gators. With a defender like Castleton protecting the interior, the Tigers have to find their rhythm from outside.

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