Sports

Florida basketball heads to Ft. Myers for early season tournament


After starting the season 3-0, including a victory over then-ranked Florida State, No. 24 Florida will travel to the state’s West Coast to participate in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

The event features eight teams split into two divisions. The Beach Division features the four power programs involved in the tournament, Cal, Florida, Ohio State and Seton Hall, and the Palms Divison contains Bowling Green, Milwaukee, Southern Utah and Yale. Each division will name its own champion rather than all eight teams in a single bracket.

Florida’s first matchup comes against Cal on Nov. 22 while Ohio State faces Seton Hall in the first round. First-round winners will advance to a championship game on Nov. 24, and the losers will play for third place earlier in the day.

Here’s a closer look at the teams in Florida’s division.

Matt Pendleton/USA TODAY Sports

Florida has gotten off to a great start this season defeating rival Florida State and moving into the AP Top 25. Much of the team’s success can be traced back to center Colin Castleton, who was named SEC Player of the Week after putting up 15 points and 16 rebounds against the Seminoles.

Forward Anthony Duruji has come along as the hustle player of the team and is averaging 11.7 points per game and seven rebounds per game. Tyree Appleby and Myreon Jones are shooting a combined 41.7% from beyond the arc as well.

Player Pos H/W Class
Anthony Duruji F 6-7 / 220 R-Senior
Colin Castleton F 6-11 / 231 Senior
Tyree Appleby G 6-5 / 205 Senior
Brandon McKissic G 6-3 / 185 Graduate
Myreon Jones G 6-3 / 175 Senior

Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports

Cal opened the season with losses to UC San Diego (4-0) and UNLV (3-1), the latter of which was decided by just three points. The Golden Bears notched their first win of the season against San Diego (3-2) on Monday, but double overtime was needed for them to overcome Southern Utah (1-3) on Tuesday.

Part of the Fort Myers Tip-Off event involved the Beach Division teams hosting a Palms Division team before the tournament. Southern Utah challenged Cal far more than Milwaukee did Florida, so that may indicate a Gators advantage for the first round.

Forward Andre Kelly is Cal’s best scorer averaging 16.8 points per game. The Golden Bears play three forwards in their starting lineup, all of which are two inches shorter than Colin Castleton.

Player Pos H/W Class
Kuany Kuany F 6-9 / 194 Junior
Grant Anticevich F 6-9 / 230 Fifth-year
Andre Kelly F 6-9 / 255 Senior
Joel Brown G 6-3 / 192 Junior
Jordan Shepherd G 6-4 / 190 Graduate

Katie Stratman/USA TODAY Sports

Things haven’t gone so smoothly for Ohio State to start the season, but the Buckeyes are still 3-1 on the year so far. OSU only beat Akron (2-1) by a point in the season opener, but Niagara (1-3) proved to be less challenging after that. The Buckeyes massacred their Palms Division matchup for the Fort Myers Tip-Off, Bowling Green (1-3), but then lost to Xavier (4-0) in the Gavitt Games.

Forward Sueing Justice will be out for the Buckeyes for some time with an abdominal injury. Without Justice, the team has leaned forward E.J. Liddell for scoring and rebounding.

Player Pos H/W Class
Jamari Wheeler G 6-1 / 170 Graduate
Malaki Branham G 6-5 / 230 Freshman
Justin Ahrens F 6-6 / 195 Senior
E.J. Liddell F 6-7 / 240 Junior
Zed Key F 6-8 / 245 Sophomore

Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

Seton Hall might be the biggest threat to Florida on paper. For starters, the Pirates are undefeated on the year, including a win over No. 4 Michigan. The rankings haven’t quite caught up to the Pirates’ big win, but they should be ranked by the time of the tournament.

They also have a 7-foot-2-inch center, Ike Obiagu, making Seton Hall the only team in Florida’s way with a  proper center to handle Colin Castleton. The starting lineup is good, but the bench being deep might be the scariest part about this Pirates team. The Pirates bench has outscored opponents 95-34 this season.

Player Pos H/W Class
Jamir Harris G 6-2 / 195 Graduate
Kadary Richmond G 6-6 / 200 Sophomore
Myles Cale G/F 6-6 / 210 Graduate
Alexis Yetna F 6-8 / 225 Graduate
Ike Obiagu C 7-2 / 265 Graduate

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