Florida cruises past UVA, 65-39, advances to Sweet Sixteen

uva basketballFlorida took control with a 21-0 run spanning an eight-minute stretch around halftime in a 65-39 evisceration of UVA Saturday in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

The Gators (26-8) led 19-17 at the 3:43 media timeout before closing the first half on a 12-0 burst to go up 31-17 at the break.

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.

UVA (23-11) played as expected without All-ACC Defensive Team forward Isaiah Wilkins, who has been struggling with lingering issues with a strep throat virus that has limited his availability over the past three weeks.

The Cavs had gone 5-1 over the first six games of that stretch with Wilkins in and out of the lineup, but coach Tony Bennett just wasn’t able to get the right combination on the court against Florida.

Bennett gave freshman forward Mamadi Diakite his first career start alongside center Jack Salt after going with a four-guard starting lineup in recent games, trying to counter Florida’s frontline height and physicality, and Diakite scored Virginia’s first bucket of the game, and finished with a team-high nine points and six rebounds.

But the offense never got going against Florida, which came in ranked fourth in the nation in defensive efficiency. UVA was 8-of-27 from the field in the first half, and even Bennett going back to a four-guard lineup to start the second half couldn’t turn things around in the final 20 minutes.

Virginia shot 8-of-26 from the field in the second half and finished at 30.2 percent on the game.

The ‘Hoos also connected on just 1-of-15 from three-point range on the night, after coming in shooting 39.4 percent from long-range on the season.

Salt had eight points and 10 rebounds for UVA, which got just seven from Marial Shayok and six from London Perrantes, who had 23 and 24, respectively, for the Cavs in their first-round win over UNC-Wilmington on Thursday.

Perrantes was 2-of-11 from the field with three assists and four turnovers in his final game in a Virginia uniform.

The senior was 2-of-9 on two- and three-point jumpers, and Virginia on the night was an anemic 10-of-39 (25.6 percent) on jumpers on the night.

Florida shot 46 percent (23-of-50) from the floor and hit on 8-of-21 (38.1 percent) from three-point range.

Justin Leon and Devin Robinson each had 14 to lead the Gators, who will play Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen in Madison Square Garden on Friday.