Florida vs. Nevada score: Gators survive to advance in 2019 NCAA Tournament

By Adam Silverstein
March 21, 2019
Florida vs. Nevada score: Gators survive to advance in 2019 NCAA Tournament
Basketball

Image Credit: UAA Communications

It was not pretty in the second half when it appeared as if the (10) Florida Gators were on the verge of completely blowing an 18-point lead, but some clutch defense late sent the underdog to a 70-61 win over the (7) Nevada Wolfpack in the opening round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. Florida (20-15) won as a double-digit seed for the first time in the tourney, though the Gators had to sweat late after Nevada (29-5) made a key run in the waning minutes.

Let’s take a look at what went down as UF survived in the NCAA Tournament.


It was over when … Senior guard KeVaughn Allen made a free throw to put the Gators up seven with 33.5 seconds left to play. That was on the back of a clutch dunk by sophomore forward Dontay Bassett that was part of a 7-0 game-ending run by UF.

Florida led by as many as 18 points early in the second half following a 12-0 run as Nevada missed 10 straight field goals. However, a seemingly endless string of miscues including bone-headed fouls and careless turnovers cost the Gators possessions and allowed the Wolfpack to go on an 18-4 scoring stretch to cut their deficit to three. Florida saw its lead shrink to a single basket twice over the final 3:30, but head coach Mike White switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense to stifle Nevada and give his team enough opportunities to pull out the win.

Exceptional efforts: For the second straight game, senior center Kevarrius Hayes scored a team-high 16 points on an identical 5 of 6 shooting effort. Despite being in foul trouble and eventually fouling out, Hayes played 26 minutes and made 6 of 8 free throws. The Gators were a significantly better team when he was on the court, and his absence was sorely missed for a large duration of the second half. Redshirt senior G Jalen Hudson was nails in the first half when he hit 3 of 6 triples for 13 points, but he went silent in the latter 20 minutes, making just 1 of 4 baskets.

Odds and ends: Freshman F Keyontae Johnson again posted a double-double, but he supplemented his 10 rebounds with 10 points on lackluster 3 of 14 shooting, including a number of point-blank misses … freshman point guard Andrew Nembhard committed a couple awful turnovers late but also made a clutch layup and was all over the box score with 8 points, 7 boards and 5 assists … Nevada outrebounded Florida 28-16 (14 offensive) and took nine more shot attempts (33-24) in the second half … this was the first meeting between the Gators and Wolfpack in basketball … Florida improved to 44-17 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, 5-2 under White … the Gators will make their seventh straight appearance in the Round of 32 or beyond (2011-14, 2017-19) … Florida is 17-5 all-time in the Round of 64 … UF won for the first time as a double-digit seed (1-2) … the Gators improved to 15-5 when shooting above 40 percent in a game (.453)

What it means: Florida deserved to be in the 68-team field. For anyone who rightfully doubted the Gators late in the season, they proved their worth in the SEC Tournament and again in this game. UF also proved it is the exact team we know them to be — inconsistent. There is no reason that a team up 18 points in the second half with a defense the caliber of Florida’s should be in a two-point game with under 4 minutes to play.

Up next: The Gators’ next game will be Saturday at a yet-to-be-determined time against a yet-to-be-determined opponent, though the game will be played in Des Moines. Florida will likely wind up facing (2) Michigan should it get past its opponent on Thursday night.

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