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Four-seed Florida Gators basketball (26-8) stunned the nation with its absolutely dominant performance on Saturday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, routing the five-seed Virginia Cavaliers in both halves for a 65-39 win in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
OnlyGators.com breaks down the team’s fifth straight trip to the Sweet 16 below.
It was over when … The Gators opened the second half with gusto, immediately exploding with nine straight points to extend a 29-4 scoring stretch and 21-0 run spanning halftime. The Cavaliers went 7:55 without a single point and did not attempt their first free throw of the game until there was 17:15 remaining in the contest. It was all over but the final whistle, particularly as UF extended its advantage to 29 points later in the game.
First half focus: Florida opened the first 20 minutes slow, hitting just 1-of-6 shots, while Virginia jumped out to a 6-2 lead by making 3-of-4 field goals. A 6-0 run gave the Gators their first lead at 17-13, and they would extend it into a half-ending 20-4 scoring stretch including a separate 12-0 run – eight straight from junior forward Justin Leon — to take a 31-17 lead at the break. UF hit 4-of-5 shots to end the half as UVA went 1-for-11 from the field and scoreless the final 5:10. With Florida only committing three fouls, Virginia did not get to the line once, which provided an additional advantage as UF went 5-for-5 from the charity stripe.
Exceptional efforts: It was the Gators’ forwards that ran the show Saturday night, combining for 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting with 21 boards. Junior Devin Robinson finished with a double-double of 14 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, while Leon matched those 14 points and went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc with 10 boards for a double-double of his own.
Significant stats: Florida’s defense got the job done on Saturday, holding Virginia to 16-for-54 shooting from the field (.296) and 1-for-15 (.067) from beyond the arc. The Gators also dominated the glass 36-32 and scored 26 points in the paint against a tough Cavaliers defense, which is incredibly impressive.
Odds and ends: Virginia did not attempt a free throw for the first 22:45 of the game … the 29-4 run was the most dominant for Florida in program NCAA Tournament history … UF matched its largest tourney win over a major conference opponent by beating UVA by 26 — just like it did in 2012 … Florida has outscored Virginia 136-84 in two tourney games … UF’s forwards scored 31 of the team’s 65 points and went 6-for-11 from downtown … Florida’s two leading scorers — guards sophomore KeVaughn Allen and graduate transfer Canyon Barry — combined for 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting (1-for-6 from three) … Florida’s centers went 6-for-6 from the field with five dunks and 13 total points … freshman C Gorjok Gak is now 5-for-5 in the NCAA Tournament with five dunks … point guards senior Kasey Hill and junior Chris Chiozza had seven assists and just three turnovers
What it means: The Gators pulled off one of their most dominant victories in program history, advancing to their fifth straight Sweet 16 when appearing in the NCAA Tournament, all in the last seven seasons. Florida is now 10-3 in second-round games, 41-15 in the tourney and 11-1 in such games played in its home state. The Gators have advanced to the Elite Eight or further in six of their last seven NCAA Tournament appearances.
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 New York. The Gators are 2-2 all-time against the Badgers with the programs splitting a home-and-home series during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. They previously had not played since a home-and-home series in the late 1960s.