True freshman Blake Buchanan scored 18 points and made a late steal as Virginia held off Florida for a 73-70 victory on Friday night in Charlotte, N.C.
Playing in just his second game for the Cavaliers (2-0), the 6-foot-11 center made 10 of 16 free throws and 4 of 7 field goals and added seven rebounds.
Reece Beekman added 13 points and Jacob Groves had 12 for Virginia, which used depth and defense to counter Florida’s superior size. The Cavaliers collected 15 steals, including six by Ryan Dunn, and finished with a 26-4 edge in bench points.
Four starters scored in double figures for the Gators (1-1), including double-doubles by Micah Handlogten (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Tyrese Samuel (10 points, 11 rebounds). Ryan Kugel had a game-high 17 points, Will Richard scored 16 and Walter Clayton Jr. had nine.
The Gators won the rebounding battle 47-30, including 21 offensive boards turned into 19 second-chance points.
Virginia led by four at the half. Back-to-back triples by Groves extended the lead to 50-41 with 15:07 left.
Trailing by 11 with less than 13 minutes to play, the Gators surged ahead with a 12-0 run.
Florida seized its first lead of the second half at 55-54 on Handlogten’s putback layup with 8:15 to play.
After a handful of ties down the stretch, Buchanan’s two free throws put Virginia up 71-69 with 1:02 left.
Florida appeared to turn it over on the ensuing possession, but a lengthy replay review overturned the call.
Clayton went to the line with 51.8 seconds left and made 1 of 2 free throws to pull within 71-70.
A turnover gave the Gators the ball and a chance to take the lead, but Buchanan came up with a steal and got fouled with 12.3 seconds left. He sank the first free throw and missed the second to make it 72-70.
Florida never got a shot off, with Beekman coming up with a steal and Florida’s 16th turnover of the game. Beekman’s free throw with 0.7 seconds left made it 73-70 and Clayton’s long heave was off the mark.
Virginia finished the game with more made 3-pointers (seven) than turnovers (six).
The Cavaliers led 39-35 at halftime after a competitive first half with nine lead changes and three ties.
Virginia grabbed its first lead of the night at 16-14 on Buchanan’s dunk, part of an early 11-0 run.
–Field Level Media
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