GAINESVILLE — Anthony Duruji scored 18 of his career-high 22 points in the second half, Tyree Appleby added 17 points with four 3-pointers and shorthanded Florida rallied to beat Mississippi State 80-72 Wednesday night.
UF was without its leading scorer and rebounder Colin Castleton due to a left shoulder injury that he aggravated in practice. Coach Mike White said after the game that 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 percent.
Phlandrous Fleming gave the Gators their 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.
They scored 14 straight during the run, and the Bulldogs 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.
UF made eight of its first 19 3-pointers and finished 10-of-24; 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, and Tolu Smith added 17 points for the Bulldogs (12-5, 3-2). Iverson Molinar had 12 points and five assists.
Both teams play again Saturday. Florida hosts Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State welcomes Ole Miss.
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