There was no repeat of a deep Nevada tournament run equipped with second-half comebacks.
The Florida Gators, despite nearly blowing an 18-point lead, didn’t fully crack when the Wolfpack came charging in the last 20 minutes.
UF held on for a 70-61 victory to advance to the West region’s second round in Des Moines, Iowa against the winner of No. 2-seeded Michigan and No. 15-seeded Montana.
“My heart’s still racing,” UF coach Mike White said on TNT shortly after the Gators’ victory. “My brain is fried. These guys continue to play with poise.”
Kevarrius Hayes was a key reason for the Gators keeping their poise. The senior from Live Oak, Florida, scored five of his 16 points in the final five minutes before fouling out.
UF built an 18-point lead early into the second half, before Nevada began attempting a comeback like it did during its deep tournament run in 2018.
The Gators defense, which flummoxed Nevada in the first half to give UF a nine-point lead at the break, forced errant shots in the final minutes to preserve the win.