Sunday, March 19, 2017

UF Basketball: No. 4 Florida Advances to Sweet 16

The No. 4 seeded Florida Gators (26-8) absolutely dominated the No. 5 seeded Virginia Cavaliers (23-11) by a score of 65-39 to advance to their first Sweet 16 since the 2013-14 season. The Gators jumped on the Cavs early and never looked back as they took a 31-17 lead into the half.

Once play resumed, the Gators upped the lead to 40-17 before Virginia scored a basket with 17:15 left in the game. That layup put an end to a 21-0 Florida run that had spanned nearly nine minutes between the first and second halves. After this run, the Gators were able to put it on cruise control as Virginia did not threaten at all in the second half.

Florida's Leading Men
The Gators had two starters score in double figures tonight. First was junior forward Devin Robinson. Coming off a good game in the first round, D-Rob posted a double double as he scored 14 points and corralled 11 rebounds. He shot 5 of 8 from the field with two of these makes coming from three-point land.

The second double digit scorer for Florida was senior forward Justin Leon. Posting a double double as well, Leon also scored 14 points while bringing in 10 boards (one offensive). He was 4 of 8 on his field goal attempts and made half of his three-point attempts (3-6). He made all three of his free throw attempts.

Off the bench, junior guard Chris Chiozza registered a game-high five assists while totaling seven points, four rebounds, and two steals. Also scoring seven points from the bench was graduate transfer guard Canyon Barry, who notched most of those buckets going 4-4 at the free throw line.

As a team, the Gators did a good job getting to the free throw line as they had 18 attempts compared to Virginia's seven. Florida hit 11 of their charity strikes while the Cavs made all but one.

Virginia's Leading Men
The Gator defense shut down Virginia's offense completely. Star senior guard London Perrantes was more than held in check as he shot 2 of 12 from the field with just six points and four turnovers. In fact, Virginia did not have a single player reach double-digit scoring figures in this game.

Redshirt sophomore center Jack Salt was the only Cavs player to register double digits in a stat category as he pulled down 10 rebounds (two offensive).

Final Takeaway
The Florida Gators (26-8) are heading into the Sweet 16 with a full head of steam after dismantling Virginia in the Round of 32. Before previewing their Sweet 16 matchup, here are my final tidbits on the second round victory:

  • This is the 11th time in program history that the Florida Gators have reached the Sweet 16!
  • With this win, Florida is now 2-1 all-time against the Virginia Cavaliers with the two past victories both coming in the NCAA Tournament!
  • Virginia's 39 points is the lowest that they have ever scored in an NCAA Tournament game.
  • Florida's largest lead of the night was 65-36 with under four minutes remaining in the contest. Virginia's largest lead was 6-2 with just under 18 minutes to go in the first half.
  • Florida true freshman center Gorjok Gak had a career-high six points in the victory as he made all three of his shot attempts.
  • Florida senior point guard Kasey Hill notched one steal in this game to give him 179 career steals, which is the fourth most in Gator history!
  • Florida's defensive effort was one for the books as 39 points is the lowest they have allowed all season. 
  • Virginia did not shoot a free throw in the first half. Their first attempts from the line came with 17:15 remaining in the second half.

Looking Ahead
With Virginia dispatched, No. 4 seeded Florida will make a return trip to Madison Square Garden in New York for the Sweet 16. Their opponent will be the No. 8 seeded Wisconsin Badgers (27-9), who just upset the defending National Champions and No. 1 overall seeded Villanova Wildcats (32-4).

Florida and Wisconsin have not hooked up since the 2013-14 season, when the Badgers defeated the Gators by a score of 59-53 in Madison on November 12th. This will be the fourth meeting all-time between the two squads with the series knotted up at two wins a piece.

It is a very compelling matchup as Wisconsin enters with the marquee win of the tournament thus far. Florida, however, comes into this game with just as much momentum. Their win over Virginia is by far the most dominating defensive performance of any team this postseason. In fact, the 39 points that Florida allowed are the least amount that any team has scored thus far in the 2017 NCAA Tournament!

The last time Florida was at MSG was earlier this season in December. Playing in the Jimmy V Classic, the Orange and Blue lost a hard-fought battle to the Duke Blue Devils by a score of 84-74. This time around, the Gators are back in New York with a lot more at stake.

The tipoff time for the Florida/Wisconsin game has yet to be announced, but it will be one of the four possible time slots of 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:30 p.m., or 9:45 p.m. The game will take place on Friday, March 24th, and will be televised on either CBS or TBS.

*All stats accredited to



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