In the first of two NIT games involving SEC teams on Sunday, the Florida Gators knocked off Ohio State 74-66 in Columbus.
UF started the game red hot, running out to a 14-2 lead over the first 5:16 of the contest. Florida still led by ten at 27-17 when the clock passed the five minute mark, but the Buckeyes closed with a 13-4 run to cut it to a 31-30 edge at the break. The Gators got the second half off to a fast start too, once again going on a 14-2 run over the first 4:30 of the period. UF was up ten when the clock passed the four minute mark, but they actually maintained this one for a while longer. Dorian Finney-Smith hit a three pointer to push the lead back out to ten at 68-58 with a minute and a half to go, and he and Chris Chiozza hit free throws from there to keep OSU at bay.
Finney-Smith led the Gators with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while KeVaughn Hill had 15, Kevarrius Hayes put in 14, and Justin Leon got 12 off the bench. Only five of the eight Buckeyes to log minutes scored, at UF held them to under 40% shooting in the game. The next opponent for UF is the winner of tonight's game between 1-seed Monmouth and 4-seed George Washington.
In the other SEC game of the day, the Georgia Bulldogs dug themselves a hole they couldn't escape in a 77-65 loss to St. Mary's.
UGA held its own for the first eight minutes of the first half, as the game was tied at 15-all at that point. The Gaels outscored the Bulldogs 21-8, though, and entered intermission with a 13-point edge. Georgia cut the lead to single digits at a couple of points in the second half, but they couldn't keep it under ten for long. Charles Mann cut it to a ten-point lead at 75-65 with a free throw with 1:54 to go, but the Bulldogs missed all four of their field goal attempts from there.
Mann and J.J. Frazier each at 13 to lead Georgia, while Yante Maten had 12 and Kenny Gaines had 11. The Bulldogs' typically good defense failed them, as St. Mary's shot 50% from the field on the game. They also lost on the boards, as the Gaels enjoyed a 41-35 rebounding edge.