Sports

3 takeaways from season opener against Elon


Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Florida won’t wow you with what it did for most of the game on the offensive side, but there is reason to be optimistic about where this team is at, especially in comparison to last year. After losing Keyontae Johnson, Tre Mann became arguably the only reliable scorer.

This year’s team has a lot more options in that regard. In addition to Castleton’s offensive output, guard Myreon Jones tied his scoring total with 18 points of his own. A transfer from Penn State who led the Nittany Lions in scoring last year, Jones was expected to become one of this team’s go-to offensive players.

He had a slow start, but he finished strong and hit six of his 13 shot attempts. He also proved that he can facilitate as he finished tied with Tyree Appleby for second on the team in assists with three (Castleton had four).

Speaking of Appleby, the point guard got the start in this one after coming off the bench against Embry-Riddle, and that seems to have been a good call. He scored 14 points against Elon, and all three of his field-goal makes came from three-point range (he was 3 of 6 from the field for the game). Forward Anthony Duruji also scored in double figures, earning 10 points to go with a team-high seven rebounds.

Of course, it wasn’t all good. The Gators ultimately left a lot of points on the table.

While it shot 51.6% in the first half, that dropped off to just a paltry 32.1% in the second. Florida had a clear matchup advantage inside with Castleton and drew 22 fouls as a result. The Gators shot from the free-throw line 29 times, but they made just 16 of them. While Castleton and Appleby combined for seven assists, they also combined for nine turnovers.

In total, Florida almost matched Elon’s turnover total with 13 of its own. While the Phoenix wasn’t as capable of capitalizing off those mistakes (totaling 11 points off turnovers compared to UF’s 19), it limited the Gators’ ability to pull away in the second half.

This team has a lot to clean up offensively, but considering that the majority of its players have never played together before, this game offered some encouragement. Florida definitely has some guys that can score, it will just come down to putting those players in better positions and avoiding costly mistakes against teams that are good enough to make you pay.

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