NEW YORK–KeVaughn Allen scored 19 points as Florida defeated West Virginia 66-56 on Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The Mountaineers (5-3) and the Gators (5-3) struggled mightily from the tip-off. Both teams went through scoreless droughts, turned the ball over, missed shots and looked discombobulated on the court.
WVU turned the ball over 21 times while Florida had 22 miscues.
The Mountaineers had a 48-45 edge on the glass over the Gators.
“Florida was the better team tonight,” Florida head coach Bob Huggins said.
“Overall, this team has defended at a pretty high level and made enough shots,” Mike White said.
The Gators went on a12-2 run to take a 26-13 lead with 7:25 left in the half.
However, WVU refused to go away, using a 9-0 run at the end of the half to cut the deficit to three, 30-27.
It appeared like the Mountaineers picked up where they left off at the start of the second half. Esa Ahmad’s dunk gave WVU 31-30 lead with 16:36 remaining.
Then the wheels came crashing off for the Mountaineers. Florida went on an 18-2 run. During that run WVU went over eight minutes without a basket.
The Gators led 53-47 when Chase Harler sank back-to-back 3s for the Mountaineers to cut the deficit to 10. But WVU was never able to put together another run to rally.
“You get on a stage where guys want to be something they’re not,” Huggins said. “That was the whole deal. Florida did a really good job — I’m not going to take anything away from them — but we had guys open. When you’re standing out there dribbling the damn ball between your legs, it’s hard to hit an open guy. That’s what we did.
Harler had 11 points for the Mountaineers.
WVU shot 30 percent from the field, 30 percent from 3 and made just 11-of-20 from the free throw line.
Florida shot 33 percent from the floor, 29 percent from beyond the arc and made 28-of-46 from the line.
“We got guys who want to go out and prove what they can’t do,” Huggins said. “They want to prove that they can do this or do that, when in reality I see them every day in practice, I know what they can’t do. When you continue to turn it over, turn it over, turn it over and you continue to miss shots, well, you probably shouldn’t be shooting it then.
“We continually have guys who continue to do things they can’t do. We’ve got some guys who have got to grow up. If they don’t, then we don’t need them around.
The Mountaineers return home to the Coliseum on Saturday to face Pitt at noon in the Backyard Brawl,
Cover Photo Credit: Ashley O’Brien