Both Florida and Florida State are reeling as they approach their annual rivalry game on Friday night in Tallahassee, Fla.
The Gators (2-1) and Seminoles (0-3) each have absorbed uncharacteristic losses so far this season to in-state foes they typically dominate.
Florida State is off to its worst start since Leonard Hamilton became its coach in 2002, losing to Stetson and UCF before another disappointing loss to a mid-major program Monday night at home when it fell 79-72 against Troy.
Florida opened the season with a pair of wins, but then fell short down the stretch of a 76-74 loss to Florida Atlantic — its first loss ever against the Owls.
“We were up 10 in the second half and just let them go on a run,” said Gators forward Colin Castleton, who led Florida with 30 points and 12 rebounds. “We just have to come together better when it comes to holding a lead and being able to finish off a game. That’s something we did poorly tonight.”
Florida State has also had trouble in the closing moments of games so far.
The Seminoles trailed 64-61 with under three minutes left against Troy when turnovers contributed to the Trojans putting together a late 10-2 run to put the game out of reach.
Castleton has been dominant through the first three games, averaging 25.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and could be a problem for the Seminoles, who have been playing without a true center.
Florida State, which has been dealing with numerous injuries and with only seven scholarship players available, evened things out on the boards after being outrebounded the prior game by UCF 52-22. But the Seminoles committed 19 turnovers against Troy.
Darin Green Jr. continues to be a bright spot for Florida State through the first three games, averaging 16.3 points per game.
“I thought we just didn’t respond during that period where the game was somewhat in doubt,” Hamilton said. “Some of that is inexperience. Some of it is (that) we have to make better decisions with the ball when the game is on the line.”
–Field Level Media