Thu, 27 Jan 2022

No. 14 Florida readies for challenge at Oklahoma

Field Level Media
01 Dec 2021, 04:55 GMT+10

Though Florida is off to its best start since 2012, Gators coach Mike White is looking for more.

Going into Wednesday's game at Oklahoma, White is emphasizing cutting down on turnovers and attacking the defensive glass.

"We've got to get back to that as we move onto the next one," White said,referring to his team's early success at limiting offensive rebounds and preventing second-chance opportunities. "It's a high-level opponent on the road. We better be in the mix. We better have five guys in there in the mix on the defensive glass to give us a chance."

At No. 14, the Gators (6-0) are ranked higher than they've been since the 2019 preseason. It's also their highest in-season ranking since December 2017.

It was Porter Moser, now the Oklahoma coach, who helped knock the Gators off from that perch then.

Moser's Loyola-Chicago squad came to Gainesville and pulled off what was then one of the biggest wins in program history, knocking off White's No. 5 Florida team 65-59.

That Ramblers team wound up becoming one of college basketball's darlings a few months later with a run to the Final Four.

Wednesday, White and Moser go head-to-head once again. Moser is in his first season coaching the Sooners.

"It's going to be a very tough challenge for us, of course," White said. "Porter's really good at what he does, obviously. They'll be prepared defensively. They're hard to guard."

Florida is coming off an 84-45 blowout win over Troy on Sunday in which the Gators held the Trojans to just 2 of 16 from behind the 3-point line.

The Gators have won by an average of more than 21 points per game with a balanced lineup that features five players averaging in double figures scoring, led by Colin Castleton's 14.8 points per game.

Castleton was one of six Florida players to score in double figures in the win over Troy.

The Gators lead the all-time series against the Sooners 2-1, including winning their lone meeting in Norman, Okla., in 2016. Oklahoma beat Florida in their last meeting, 65-60, in November 2018 at a neutral site in the Bahamas. The teams were scheduled to play last season before being canceled due to COVID-19 precautions with the Sooners.

Oklahoma (6-1) is coming off a 65-62 win at UCF on Saturday.

While the Sooners' starting five has been strong, led by Tanner Groves' 14.6 points per game and Umoja Gibson's 11.3, Moser said building depth continues to be a focus -- especially as it relates to bringing along freshmen Alston Mason, Bijan Cortes and C.J. Noland.

"We've got to get deeper," Moser said. "We've had some struggles, and it's a long season for freshmen.

"We've got to develop C.J., Bijan, Alston."

Noland is averaging the most minutes of the three at 13.3, while Mason and Cortes are averaging fewer than nine minutes per game.

The Sooners got a significant contribution -- a season-high 12 points in 15 minutes -- from one of their more experienced bench players, SMU transfer Ethan Chargois, in Saturday's win.

--Field Level Media

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