That much was made clear during a game-breaking 21-0 run that stretched both sides of halftime.
While schools like Florida and Florida State are the winners on the court, it’s Central Florida and more specifically the city of Orlando that’s benefitted greatly from having the first-and-second round NCAA Tournament games at the Amway Center.
Up next: Florida will move on to face eight-seed Wisconsin, which upset one-seed Villanova earlier Saturday, in the Sweet 16 of the East Region at Madison Square Garden in NY.
That allowed UF to out-defend a defense that led the country in fewest points and field goals allowed and earn a trip to Madison Square Garden. We have all the information you need to know before Virginia and Florida tip off tonight.
Florida’s lengthy, athletic combo of Devin Robinson and Justin Leon led the way for the Gators, each registering a double-double with 14 points apiece, 10 boards for Leon and 11 for Robinson. The Gators also dominated the glass 36-32 and scored 26 points in the paint against a tough Cavaliers defense, which is incredibly impressive.
The game shifted when the Gators used a 12-0 run to close out the first half, largely spurred by Leon.
Virginia Coach Tony Bennett doesn’t often look flustered, especially when it comes to the way his vaunted pack-line defense. Don’t know where to find the game? They’re about the right stuff, whether they get 2 points or 12 points. Here are three points from the Gators’ 65-39 win.
The only question remaining at that point was how ugly it would get for the Cavaliers (23-11), who used a gritty comeback effort to beat UNC Wilmington on Thursday but had no answers for the Gators.
“We’re not done playing”, he said.
It surely didn’t help that the Cavaliers played without forward Isaiah Wilkins, who missed the game while dealing with strep throat. Without him, the Gators attacked the post regularly, with Leon and Robinson benefiting.
It didn’t matter, because Florida’s defense is ranked fourth nationally in stat guru Ken Pomeroy’s advanced metrics for a reason. Center Jack Salt had eight, while guards London Perrantes and Darius Thompson each had six. Perrantes was 2 of 12, and Shayok 2 of 9. I mean, this group, we might miss some shots. “That was not good”.
The similarity the Cavaliers present on paper is so profound at the outset of the teams’ second round clash (approximately 8:40 p.m., TNT or March Madness Live) that it merits not just mentioning but appreciation.
“We stayed the course”, said Xavier coach Chris Mack following the win. “So I did it, and hey”.
Holding any major college team to 39 points isn’t easy, let alone the big stage of the Big Dance.
Despite Bennett’s trotting out four- and five-guard lineups throughout the second half, the buckets wouldn’t come for Virginia, and now it’ll have the offseason to try to improve its offense.
Whoever wins this one earns a trip to the Sweet Sixteen and the honor of facing the victor of Villanova Wisconsin.