STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Colin Castleton had 13 points, Will Richard scored 12 and Florida held off Mississippi State 61-59 on Saturday night.
Richard did all of his scoring from 3-point range, knocking down 4 of 5 shots from distance, for the Gators (11-8, 4-3 Southeastern Conference). Kowacie Reeves had nine points off the bench and Kyle Lofton had eight rebounds and six assists to go with six points.
Tolu Smith and reserve Shakeel Moore led the Bulldogs (12-7, 1-6) with 12 points apiece. Will McNair Jr. scored 10 off the bench. Smith and Cameron Matthews both grabbed 11 rebounds. Dashawn Davis hit three 3-pointers and scored nine.
Richard scored nine points in the first half on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc to guide Florida to a 33-24 lead at intermission.
Davis hit two 3-pointers that pulled the Bulldogs even at 40-40 and 43-all and Smith’s dunk tied the game at 45 with 9:14 left to play. Richard answered by sinking a 3-pointer in the middle of a 7-0 run and the Gators never trailed again.
Davis buried a 3-pointer with 1:28 left to get MSU within two points, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over following a missed shot by Florida and then missed two shots in the final two seconds with a chance to tie.
The Gators, who hit just 2 of 26 first-half shots in a 54-52 loss to Texas A&M, sank 13 of 30 (43.3%) in the first 20 minutes against MSU and finished 23 of 55 (41.8%). Florida made 10 of 24 from distance. Mississippi State shot 39.3% overall and made only 4 of 17 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs, who were ranked as high as 15th in the AP Top 25, have lost four straight and seven of their last eight after an 11-0 start under first-year coach Chris Jans.