Both in need of big win, Florida and Oklahoma State meet in Big 12-SEC Challenge

·2 min read

Florida and Oklahoma State each will be looking to snap two-game slides when they meet in the Big 12-SEC Challenge on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators (12-8, 3-4 SEC) are coming off setbacks at Ole Miss and at No. 18 Tennessee, games in which they were outplayed in the second half during both contests. The Cowboys (10-9, 3-5 Big 12) are trying to bounce back from losses to Texas and No. 23 Iowa State.

Against the Rebels, the Gators were outscored 48-32 after the teams were tied 22-22 at halftime on Monday. Two days later, the Gators squandered a first-half lead and were outscored 44-29 by the Vols in the second half.

Florida's struggling in part due to the absence of 6-foot-11 forward Colin Castleton, the team's leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker who was averaging 15.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game when he was sidelined with a shoulder injury.

"We weren't able to take advantage of anything on the interior," head coach Mike White said after losing to Tennessee. "We were just throwing anything out there in the second half."

Castleton is expected to miss Saturday's game, but White's optimistic that CJ Felder -- who missed the Ole Miss game with an illness -- will return against Oklahoma State. Felder played three minutes on Wednesday against the Vols.

Phlandrous Fleming Jr. averages 10.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Gators, while Tyree Appleby averages 10.1 points and a team-leading 3.9 assists per game.

With two losses in a row, Oklahoma State has lost the momentum it gained following wins at then-No. 1 Baylor on Jan. 15 and against visiting TCU four days later.

Avery Anderson III, who averages a team-high 11.3 points per game, scored a career-high 34 points against No 23 Iowa State on Wednesday, but it wasn't enough as the Cowboys fell 84-81. Isaac Likekele added 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Oklahoma State in a game that had 28 lead changes and was tied 16 times.

"Losing sucks, whether it's by three in overtime, by 12, by 20. At the end of the day, you play this game to compete and to win," Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. "You try to do the things along the game to put yourself in position (to win), so while you feel a little bit more let down at the end of the game because you were right there, losing by 20 doesn't feel any better."

--Field Level Media