A strong second half push by the Florida Gators helped the #4 seed advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament with a 80-65 win over the #13 seeded East Tennessee State Buccaneers. Florida’s opening round win saw the Gators struggle in the first half from behind the arc and clogging the lane on defense, but a different story in the second half as the Gators found their fast-paced offensive game outscoring the Southern Conference tournament champs.
The first twenty minutes were a struggle for the Gators on the offensive side of the ball as they seemingly found themselves in the same troubles they were in just a week ago in their opening round loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament. Florida struggled from behind the arc shooting an ice cold 10% from deep, but despite the struggles found themselves up a point at the half over the Buccaneers.
Devin Robinson shot out of a cannon as the Buccaneers simply couldn’t stop the junior forward in the first half as Robinson led all scorers with 10 points at the mid-way point including multiple highlight dunks.
The Gators turned things up in the second half on offense as they opened up with an 11-5 run to open the scoring difference between the two teams. Florida, led by Chris Chiozza’s fourteen points from the bench in the second half, went on another run of 11-1 opening up as a lead as large as 16 points. The Gators defense held the Buccaneers deep threats to a minimum, and countered with a 7-12 three point attack of their own in the second half.
Devin Robinson led all Gators scorers with a career high 24 points, Kasey Hill added a quiet 14 points and five rebounds. The Gators shot 48% from the field for the game, and 78% (21-27) from the free throw line.
Florida will play Virginia in the next round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday with a time yet to be determined. The Cavaliers won earlier in the day beating UNC-Wilmington 76-71 in the opening game in Orlando.
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