PHIL KNIGHT LEGACY (“PK85”)
XAVIER 90, FLORIDA 83
WHAT HAPPENED: Guards colby jones and Souley Boom combined for 44 points, and the Musketeers used a mid-second half flurry to sixteen control of the game and finish off the Gators in Thursday’s opening-round play of the Phil Knight Legacy at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore. Xavier led by four to start the second half, but the Gators hit six of their first seven shots to surge in front. The Musketeers, though, went on a run of eight straight points, including back-to-back 3s (the first by Jones, the second by reserve guard Desmond-Claude) that bracketed a steal and run-out missed dunk by UF sophomore forward Alex Fudge, a huge momentum swing. The Gators fell back by as many as 11 with just over eight minutes to go but managed three times to make it a one-possession Musketeers’ lead, the last time with 2:43 to play. UF played excellent defense on the ensuing possession and forced a missed 3, but XU grabbed the offensive rebound, and guard Adam Kunkel made the Gators pay with a driving second-chance layup that started a spurt of six straight for the Musketeers, who closed out from there. Jones and Boom each scored 22 points, while combining to make 15 of 26 shots, five of 3-point attempts and nine of 10 free throws. All five Musketeers starters scored in double figures, with 7-foot Jack Nunge posting 16 points and nine boards, while also burying a couple 3s. XU shot a torrid 55.9 percent for the game, including 53 in the second half, and went 10-for-20 from the 3-point line for the game (50 percent). UF, which was led by 23 points from junior guard Trey Bonham, the transfer from Virginia Military Institute making his first start, shot 44.3 percent overall and went 9-for-27 from deep (33.3 percent). sophomore guard Will Richard, the Belmont transfer, had his Florida high-scoring game with 18 points to go with seven rebounds. Fifth-year senior forward Colin Castletonwho came in averaging 25.3 points per game, had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
WHAT IT MEANS: UF had a chance at one of those all-important Quadrant-1 victories, as far as the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) ranks are concerned. Actually, the Gators had a shot at two of them, as a first-round win would have bought a second-round Q-1 opportunity, but now it’s about getting wins and finishing as strong as possible in this tournament field.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Bonham sparked the Gators in their comeback last Friday night at Florida State and replaced Kowacie Reeves in the starting lineup. He did not disappoint. The 6-footer made nine of his 19 shots, two of seven 3-point tries, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists over 29 minutes.
STAGGERING STATISTICS: Need to do a review of the “at-the-rim” misses by the Gators. Not sure how many they had, but they were too many against an opponent hitting 56 percent.
UP NEXT: Florida (3-2) fell into the losers’ side of the Legacy bracket and will face Oregon State (4-2) Friday at 3 pm ET. The Beavers were beaten 54-51 by eighth-ranked Duke in the tournament opener Thursday.