The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
Hall of Fame Series - Charlotte - Spectrum Center - Charlotte, NC

Virginia edges Florida in Hall of Fame Series showdown

105 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

Virginia freshman forward Blake Buchanan came off the bench to score 18 points, including the go-ahead free throws with just over a minute remaining, and Florida, twice with a chance to tie or take the lead, turned the ball over on both its final halfcourt possessions in what turned into a 73-70 loss in the Hall of Fame series Friday night at Spectrum Centre in Charlotte, N.C.

Gators junior point guard Walter Clayton, the transfer from Iona, committed both late miscues.

First, with UF down 71-70, he tried to force a pass into the post that was stolen by Buchanan and converted into one free throw with 12 seconds to go. With the UVA lead at two and the clock winding down, Clayton was caught in a bad spot on the sideline and had the ball stripped by UVA guard Reece Beekman, the 2023 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Beekman was fouled trying to dribble out the clock and made one of two free throws with 0.7 remaining, with Clayton's desperation three-quarters-court shot for the tie well off the mark.

Beekman had 13 points, three rebounds, five assists and four steals.

For the Gators, sophomore guard Riley Kugel shook off a 1-for-8 start to score a team-high 17 points, with fellow guard Will Richard pitching in 16 points, including four 3-pointers.

The UF low-post duo of 7-foot-1 center and hometown product Micah Handlogten and Seton Hall transfer Tyrese Samuel each had double-doubles and combined for 24 points and 25 rebounds.

The Gators led by seven early, hitting seven of their first 10 shots, but the Cavs used a run of 11 straight to surge in front and control the game for the balance of the half and deep into the second half.

Florida, though, capitalized on a Virginia drought with a run of 12 straight points to get back into the game, which turned into a back-and-forth affair over the final four minutes, with the Cavs making the plays down the stretch.

Virginia shot 45 percent for the game, made seven of 18 from deep and 14 of 24 free throws, but (no surprise) it was the Cavs' defense that had the greatest impact on the game. Florida shot just 40 percent, made only seven of 25 3-point tries, and turned the ball over 16 times, all but one of them coming on UVA's astounding 15 steals.

UF forward Tyrese Samuel (4) drives on UVA's Ryan Dunn (13) during Friday night's action in the Hall of Fame Series.

Notes

Florida inched a game closer to getting grad-transfer point guard Zyon Pullin, a projected starter, back in the lineup. Pullin has to sit out the season's first three games for participating in the Portsmouth Invitational as part of the NBA evaluation process.

Handlogten (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Samuel (10 points, 11 rebounds) became the first UF duo to record double-doubles since Kerry Blackshear Jr. (11 points, 16 rebounds) and Omar Payne (19 points, 11 rebounds) did it in a 69-47 home blowout of No. 4 Auburn on Jan. 18, 2020. That's pretty staggering, but maybe not as much as UVA's 15 steals.

Up Next

Florida (1-1) will be back home for two games, starting with Tuesday night's date against Florida A&M (0-2), which already has road lopsided losses to a pair of power conference opponents. The Rattlers opened the season with 105-54 drubbing at No. 8 Creighton, followed by an 81-54 defeat at Nebraska. The UF-FAMU game will be followed three nights later with the Gators' annual date against rival Florida State.