Kevaughn Allen leads Florida past West Virginia in Jimmy V Classic, 66-56
Even though Allen was the only Gator to finish in double-figure scoring as Florida won its third game in its last five starts and improved to 5-3 overall.
The loss snapped West Virginia’s four-game winning streak. The Mountaineers fell to 5-3. Chase Harler led West Virginia with 11 points.
Despite being outscored 14-4 in the final 7:25 of the first half, Florida went into halftime with a 30-27 lead. The Gators never trailed until Logan Routt drove the lane for a one-handed dunk with 16:39 left in the second half.
Florida responded with a 14-2 run in a span of 5:57 to turn a 31-30 deficit to a 44-33 lead. Keyontae Johnson‘s driving baseline two-handed jam and Andrew Nembhard ‘s 3 on consecutive possessions highlighted the run and forced Bob Huggins to call a timeout.
The stoppage did not slow the Gators and when play resumed Allen drilled a straightaway 3 and Deaundrae Ballard made a free throw to extend the lead to 15.
Florida would lead by as many as 16 after Locke made two free throws with 5:15 left. The Gators would make 11 free throws in the final 2:24 to close out the game.
FLORIDA: The known is Florida’s defense. Entering Tuesday night’s nationally televised game the Gators ranked second in the SEC in points allowed (62.4 points per game) and third in steals (9.0 per game). The unknown was how potent they could be offensively. Even though the Gators were averaging 71.7 points per game, that number is somewhat misleading due to a 98-point outing against North Florida on Nov. 27. In their remaining six games, however, Florida has averaged just 67.3 points.
WEST VIRGINIA: ‘Live by the 3, die by the 3,’ is not the Mountaineers’ motto for the 2018-19 season, but it might as well be. In West Virginia’s five wins prior to Tuesday night it shot 38.2 percent from behind the arc, but only connected on 29.3 percent in its two losses. Against Florida, the Mountaineers missed 16 of 23 from 3.
FLORIDA: Hosts No. 10 Michigan State Saturday.
WEST VIRGINIA: Hosts Pittsburgh Saturday.