Sluggish starts mark seasons for Florida, Florida A&M
Florida tries to get its 2022-23 season -- off to a rocky start -- on track when it hosts Florida A&M on Wednesday in Gainesville, Fla.
The Gators (4-3) return home after losing two of three games at the Phil Knight Legacy tournament in Portland, Ore.
Florida began the tournament with a 90-83 loss to Xavier on Thanksgiving Day, then beat Oregon State 81-68 before falling 84-55 to West Virginia. The 29-point margin marked Florida's worst loss in 23 years, since losing 91-56 at Tennessee on Feb. 10, 1999.
In the West Virginia loss, Florida's leading scorer Colin Castleton picked up three first-half fouls and the Gators were unable to get anything going from the perimeter, shooting just 2 of 17 from 3-point range.
"We did a really poor job of dealing with adversity in the first half," Florida coach Todd Golden said. "There could've been a couple calls that went against us that could've gone our way and maybe would've changed things, but we did a very poor job of handling that adversity and fighting through it."
A bright spot during the tournament for the Gators was guard Trey Bonham, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 21 points and 2.5 assists in back-to-back games against Xavier and Oregon State. A transfer from VMI, Bonham is averaging 8.4 points on the season.
"I've been playing basketball a long time, so I'm feeling like the old Trey," Bonham said. "It feels good."
Castleton (18.1 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game) will look to rebound from an inconsistent tournament. He averaged 8.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in three tournament games.
Florida A&M (1-4) is coming off its first win of the season, beating Albany State 70-65 on Nov. 21. The Rattlers, under sixth-year coach Robert McCullum, have been led by guard Jordan Tillmon. A transfer from Connors State, Tillmon is averaging 9.8 points on the season.
FAMU had a three-game road swing in Oregon to start the season, losing at Oregon, at Portland and at Oregon State. The Rattlers also dropped an 87-61 game at Miami on Nov. 15.
--Field Level Media