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Florida’s painful loss to Xavier on Thanksgiving

Florida basketball opened the Phil Night Legacy in Portland, Oregon on Thanksgiving Day with a loss to the Xavier Musketeers with a final score of 90-83. The matchup between a Southeastern Conference school and a representative from Big East didn’t go quite as Gators fans would have liked after gorging on dinner that night.

The biggest story was Colin Castleton’s general offensive ineffectiveness throughout the game, scoring just 11 points while catching 10 rebounds and blocking four shots. That’s a pretty modest double-double considering he scores 5-on-14 from the field and only goes 1-on-2 from the free-throw line.

Tre Bonhams led on 23 points, while Will Richard followed with 18 and Riley Kugel with 12 to round out the Gators by double digits; Richard also pushed the squad forward with three steals. Kowacie Reeves sat this out due to a managerial decision that was not detailed.

Below, take a look at a chronological breakdown of game action as Florida’s second loss of the season unfolded.

Alligators start slowly

Florida actually scored the first five points thanks to a game-opening layup [autotag]Kyle Lofton[/autotag] as well as a three-pointer of [autotag]CJ Fields[/autotag], but Xavier responded with 14 unanswered points to give them a comfortable cushion after six minutes of play. The early run was fueled by a combination of outside and inside shooting, plus some results from the charity strip.

…but managed to stay tough for most of the first half

Castleton snatched the run with a dunk to make it 14-7 in favor of the opponent. The Gators continued to play in the lead until a Bonham free throw tied things up at 21 with just over nine minutes left. The two teams battled back and forth, connecting and trading the lead until the final two minutes.

A weak end to the first half put Florida in a hole

Todd Golden’s side missed an opportunity to go into the dressing room on a high note, allowing Xavier to take a four-point lead they ultimately hold at the end of the half. Florida looked out of sync and lacked focus during crunch time. The Gators shot 48% from the floor overall, but the Musketeers hit a 59% mark while the two teams took down almost the same number of boards at 16 and 15, respectively.

Gators came out swinging in the second half

A four-point halftime deficit turned into a three-point lead in the first three minutes of the second frame. Two free throws extended Xavier’s lead to six to open things up, but Florida managed to outplay their opponents and gain the upper hand. The stretch was topped by a three-pointer of ball and was the level of play that Golden wants to see.

A five-point swing took the momentum from Florida

A missed dunk on an Alex Fudge breakaway while the game was tied at 58, followed by a transition three from Xavier, took the wind out of the Gators’ sails. The Musketeers would drain another transition three shortly after to increase their lead to six, completely draining Florida’s confidence. The deficit would previously become as large as 11…

Florida stormed back

The Gators let things get away and hung around long enough to put together a little run of their own, cutting the lead to two at 5:39 left on a Castleton post-up jumper. The jab was enough to force Xavier to burn a time-out.

But it just wasn’t enough

The Gators failed to get past that two-point barrier and ultimately fell short of the win. Things got a little ugly at the end with Xavier taunting Florida as the Musketeers closed the door in the final minutes. But overall, the Gators were simply outplayed, thanks in large part to Xavier’s ability to neutralize Castleton on offense.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire

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