Robinson-led Florida stymies East Tennessee State

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Florida forward Devin Robinson threw down a pair of dunks before halftime and nailed a couple of 3-pointers after it.

His big day was enough to stave off an East Tennessee State team that provided plenty of trouble in between.

Robinson scored a game-high 24 points and added seven rebounds to help the fourth-seeded Gators eventually dispatch the No. 13 seed Buccaneers and move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament's East Region with an 80-65 victory Thursday at the Amway Center.

Florida will face No. 5 seed Virginia, which beat UNC Wilmington 76-71 earlier in the day, on Saturday with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

While it never felt like the Gators (25-8) were in any serious trouble against the Buccaneers (27-8), they appeared frustrated and maybe a bit flustered during the first half before finding a rhythm.

Florida trailed 37-35 in the early minutes of the second half before forward Justin Leon nailed a 3-pointer. Robinson then added a pair, and leading scorer KeVaughn Allen, to that point without a field goal in the game, sunk one of his own. That hot stretch put the Gators up 47-39, and the Buccaneers never got back in the game.

A thunderous slam by forward Kevarrius Hayes with 8:35 remaining in the second half had Floridaoff and running for good in front of a crowd that felt almost like home for the Gators, whose campus is about two hours away.

Chris Chiozza (five rebounds, three assists) and Kasey Hill (five rebounds, five assists) finished with 14 points apiece for the Gators.

Allen, who entered as the team's leading scorer at 13.9 points per game, missed all five of his shots and had just two points on a pair of made free throws in the first half. He finished with seven, and it will be critical Allen plays better against the Cavaliers, whose defense struggled to contain UNC Wilmington's 3-point shooters Thursday.

While Florida's leading scorer was off his game, East Tennessee State played well despite getting little help. T.J. Cromer, who willed the Buccaneers into the NCAA Tournament with a historic showing in the Southern Conference Tournament, finished with a team-high 19 points. David Burrell had 11 and was the only other East Tennessee State player to hit double figures.

Florida got off to a promising start early in the first half using its transition offense.

The Gators turned a missed shot by the Buccaneers into an emphatic dunk by Robinson, who leaked behind the defense. Robinson's slam put Florida up 14-6 fewer than five minutes into the game.

However, the Buccaneers were efficient in the halfcourt and flustered the Gators into several turnovers after their quick start. Canyon Barry had multiple passes go off his hands and out of bounds, a microcosm for a Florida offense that has been clunky at times this season and certainly was during stretches against the Buccaneers.