GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Anthony Duruji scored 18 of his career-high 22 points in the second half, Tyree Appleby added 17 points with four 3-pointers and short-handed Florida rallied to beat Mississippi State 80-72 on Wednesday night.
Florida was without its leading scorer and rebounder Colin Castleton due to a left shoulder injury aggravated in practice. Florida coach Mike White said after the game Castleton’s injury is “significant” and he will miss more games.
The Gators struggled in the first half without Castleton, a 6-foot-11 forward averaging 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds, getting outscored 18-6 in the paint and trailing 41-35. But Florida rallied in the second half by shooting 54.2%.
Phlandrous Fleming Jr. gave Florida its first lead of the second half — and first since 23-22 — with two free throws to make it 67-66 with 4:58 left. The free throws came during a 24-5 run that ended in a 77-66 lead.
The Gators scored 14 straight during the run, and Mississippi State only made four field goals in the final 10 minutes — with two coming in the final minute.
Kowacie Reeves added 14 points and Fleming had 10 for Florida (11-6, 2-3 SEC). Jason Jitoboh, making his first career start, scored eight points.
Florida made eight of its first 19 3-pointers and finished 10 of 24 while Mississippi State was 4 for 13. The Gators also made 24 of 30 free throws compared to 14 of 22 for the Bulldogs.
Shakeel Moore scored 18 points and Tolu Smith added 17 points for Mississippi State (12-5, 3-2). Iverson Molinar had 12 points and five assists.
Both teams play again on Saturday. Florida hosts Vanderbilt and Mississippi welcomes Ole Miss.
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