Gators cruise into Sweet 16 with rout of Virginia


Devin Robinson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, the fifth double-double of his career, and No. 4 seed Florida coasted past fifth-seeded Virginia 65-39 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Justin Leon added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Gators (26-8), who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the 11th time in school history and fifth in the past seven years. They will play No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the East Regional in New York City on Friday.

They can thank stingy defense and a ridiculous run spanning halftime for this trip to Madison Square Garden.

Florida held Virginia (23-11) to a season-low 17 points in the first half and 30.2 percent shooting on the night. The turning point came late in the first half, when the Gators started a 21-0 run that was their most lopsided of the season.

Speedy guards Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza repeatedly broke down Virginia’s “pack line” defense, creating open looks for Leon and Robinson.

Coach Mike White’s team closed the first half with a 12-0 spurt and built a 14-point lead at the break. The Gators came out of the locker room with the same energy and effort, scoring nine consecutive points that included two 3-pointers from Leon.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett called timeout, but it was too little, too late.

The Gators were up 23 points against a team that has dealt with offensive challenges all season. It surely didn’t help that the Cavaliers played without forward Isaiah Wilkins, who missed the game while dealing with strep throat.

Wilkins leads the team in rebounds, blocks and steals, and Bennett called him the “heart and soul of our defense.” Without him, the Gators attacked the post regularly, with Leon and Robinson benefiting.

Leon made 4 of 8 shots, and Robinson, who had 24 points in the opening round, finished 5 of 8 from the field.

Here’s maybe the most promising part for Florida: Leading scorer KeVaughn Allen and SEC Sixth Man of the Year Canyon Barry were quiet again. Allen had four points on 2-of-10 shooting, and Barry finished with seven points during a 1-for-4 night.

BIG PICTURE

Florida: The Gators, who were ticked off they were placed on upset alert during the NCAA selection show, proved their first-round win was no fluke. They might even be a handful moving forward because of their defensive prowess and number of scoring options.

Virginia: The Cavaliers were looking to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in the last four years, and the reason was obvious. Outsiders figured the Cavs would be doomed if London Perrantes and Marial Shayok stopped making shots, and they were. Perrantes was 2 of 12, and Shayok 2 of 9.

BOILING OVER

Perrantes chucked the ball at the scorer’s table in frustration in the second half, but avoided a technical foul.

GAK ATTACK

Seldom-used center Gorjok Gak finished with six points and two rebounds in 10 minutes — his best outing of the season. Gak is starting to show he’s a viable option to help Florida deal with the loss of center John Egbunu (knee).



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

No. 8 Miami holds off Syracuse to win its shakiest thriller yet
No. 8 Miami holds off Syracuse to win its shakiest thriller yet

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The scene Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium was all too familiar. No. 8 Miami was locked in a one-possession game with an unranked opponent. The Hurricanes’ offense had been mostly stagnant and their defense, usually so stout, had finally begun to bend a little too much. This time, Malik Rosier...
Penn State only needed 1 half to give Michigan’s D its worst performance of 2017
Penn State only needed 1 half to give Michigan’s D its worst performance of 2017

Penn State only needed one half to register the best game any team has had against Michigan in 2017. The Nittany Lions only lead 21-13 at halftime, but that’s already better than any team has done against the Wolverines this season. Penn State’s 303 yards is also the most any team’s gained against Michigan this season...
WVU safety Toyous Avery taken to locker room for X-rays
WVU safety Toyous Avery taken to locker room for X-rays

West Virginia lost a little bit more from their secondary with an injury to Toyous Avery. WVU Radio reports that Avery has been taken to the locker room for X-rays after walking off the field. Derrek Pitts Jr. will enter the game in his place. West Virginia is struggling with an inspired Baylor team at homecoming, and can’t afford many more...
Tennessee coach Butch Jones likely must win out to save job
Tennessee coach Butch Jones likely must win out to save job

WATCH: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen delivers great speech after win over Kentucky
WATCH: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen delivers great speech after win over Kentucky

More Stories