One powerful Florida moment and Virginia knew it was done

Paola Ditto
Marzo 21, 2017

London Perrantes carried the Virginia offense all season, but he simply had one of his worst games against the Gators.

The fourth-seeded Gators ended U.Va.'s season 65-39 on Saturday night at the Amway Center.

They can thank stingy defense and a ridiculous run spanning halftime for this trip to Madison Square Garden. The Gators defensive effort was exactly what coach Mike White had preached to his players leading up to a game that was expected to be a defensive struggle. "We put a lot of it together".

UF took advantage of a almost eight minute scoreless stretch for Virginia that started near the end of the first half and carried over into the first three minutes of the second half.

Speedy guards Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza repeatedly broke down Virginia's "pack line" defense, creating open looks for Leon and Robinson.

"We just had had to get them uncomfortable and play our tempo", said Robinson, who scored 24 points in his NCAA opener.

"There was a couple shots or some of their shots where we were just like, 'All right, it's that type of night, '" said Guy.

The run continued with a 9-0 start in the first 2:18 of the second half that pushed the lead to 40-17, and the Cavs were basically done for early in the night.

Going into Saturday, the Gators thought that a victory over Virginia would give them a crack at the tournament's top seed, defending champion Villanova.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett called timeout, but it was too little, too late.

Before that, UVa's challenged offense scored fewer points than any other ACC team this season, generating a measly 41 at North Carolina.

"If we're not shooting well, it's hard for us", Bennett 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.

Obviously, no Virginia fan wanted to see the Cavaliers get routed to the Gators. Junior guards Devon Hall, Marial Shayok and Darius Thompson - arguably the team's most athletic players - could not find any consistency, shining one game and disappearing the next.

So let's go ahead and ask a simple question that has no simple answer: How much should we continue to laud Bennett and his program, which is consistently good and competitive, but also consistently a basketball version of a wet blanket at both ends of the court? Nobody wants to lose like that. The Cavaliers are most comfortable playing in the 60s and low 70s, and choking their opponents as a result, but while Florida forces foes to work deep into shot clocks, the Gators love to run on offense, and transition scoring opportunities are crucial to their offense. In an attempt to end a shooting slump, the senior went without a T-shirt under his jersey for the first time in two years at Florida.

Stop me if you've heard that before. "So I did it, and hey". Although guard Canyon Barry is 2-of-8 shooting in the tournament, the College of Charleston transfer was the SEC's sixth man of the year. At 6'11, Jay Huff has the potential to providing the scoring juice that Virginia had lacked this season with its big men, as he was able to average 16.3 point and 10.1 rebounds per game in his senior season at the Voyager Academy.

Perrantes chucked the ball at the scorer's table in frustration in the second half, but avoided a technical foul.

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