ORLANDO, Fla. — Devin Robinson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, the fifth double-double of his career, and No. 4 seed Florida handled fifth-seeded Virginia 65-39 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Justin Leon added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Gators (26-8), who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the 11th time in school history and fifth in the last seven years. They will play No. 8 seed Wisconsin in the East Regional in New York City on Friday.
They can thank stingy defense and a ridiculous run spanning halftime for this trip to Madison Square Garden.
Florida held Virginia (23-11) to a season-low 17 points in the first half and 30.2 percent shooting on the night. The turning point came late in the first half, when the Gators started a 21-0 run that was their most lopsided of the season.
Speedy guards Kasey Hill and Chris Chiozza repeatedly broke down Virginia’s “pack line” defense, creating open looks for Leon and Robinson.
Coach Mike White’s team closed the first half with a 12-0 spurt and built a 14-point lead at the break. The Gators came out of the locker room with the same energy and effort, scoring nine straight points that included two 3-pointers from Leon.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett called time out, but it was too little, too late.
The Gators were up 23 points against a team that has dealt with offensive challenges all season. It surely didn’t help that the Cavaliers played without forward Isaiah Wilkins, who missed the game while dealing with strep throat.
Wilkins leads the team in rebounds, blocks and steals, and Bennett called him the “heart and soul of our defense.” Without him, the Gators attacked the post regularly, with Leon and Robinson benefiting.
Leon made 4 of 8 shots, and Robinson, who had 24 points in the opening round, finished 5 of 8 from the field.
Here’s maybe the most promising part for Florida: Leading scorer KeVaughn Allen and Southeastern Conference Sixth Man of the Year Canyon Barry were quiet again. Allen had four points on 2-of-10 shooting, and Barry finished with seven points during a 1-for-4 night.