Florida entered the annual Charleston Classic looking to regroup after a 2-2 start to the men’s college basketball season.
After opening the tourney with wins over Saint Joseph’s and Miami, the Gators (4-2) are out to complete their mission against No. 18 Xavier (6-0) at 8:30 tonight in the championship game at TD Arena in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Our best performance, obviously,” Florida coach Mike White said of Friday’s 78-58 win over Miami.
“We’re still picking our spots with a bunch of new pieces — almost all new pieces, really — in terms of our tempo, and figuring out where we’re best pushing or playing in the halfcourt.”
Xavier earned a 75-74 double overtime win over UConn to advance Friday night. Xavier’s Naji Marshall has averaged 16 points and 6.8 rebounds while Tyrique Jones has put up 14.5 points and nine rebounds.
“This year we all came together, we all want to win, we all have one goal,” Marshall said. “It’s never say die. That’s just what it is. We find a way.”
For the Gators, Kerry Blackshear Jr. has averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds while Keyontae Johnson has put up 12.7 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Andrew Nembhard has directly created 42 percent of all Florida field goals over the last five games. The sophomore guard has 18 field goals and 30 assists in those games.
The Musketeers have recently created buckets via assists more often than the Gators. Xavier has 45 assists on 74 field goals (60.8 percent) over its past three matchups, while Florida has assists on 36 of 76 field goals (47.4 percent) during its past three games.
Xavier has averaged 70.2 points per game over its last five games. The Musketeers are giving up only 60.4 points per game over that stretch.
Who: Florida (4-2) vs. No. 18 Xavier (6-0)
When: 8:30 tonight
What: Charleston Classic championship game
Where: TD Arena, Charleston, S.C.
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850