The Gators celebrate during a game against Xavier on Nov. 24, 2019
Scottie Lewis (23) gets fired up with teammates Andrew Nembhard (2) and Noah Locke (10). Locke and Nembhard combined for 28 points in the Gators' win over Xavier on Nov. 24. (Credit @GatorsMBK on Twitter)

Gator Men’s Hoops Defeat No. 18 Xavier, Win Charleston Classic

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team held on to defeat the 18th ranked Xavier Musketeers on Sunday, 70-65, winning the Charleston Classic Tournament in the process.

Despite not making a field goal in the last 6:22 of the game, Florida ultimately reigned victorious.

This game was the championship round of the Charleston Classic, a 12-game tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. Florida defeated St. Joseph’s, Miami (FL) and Xavier en route to winning the tournament.

Key contributors

Xavier’s Paul Scruggs led all scorers with 24 points but fouled out after missing a three-pointer near the end of the game.  For the Gators, four players scored in double-digits.

Keyontae Johnson scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds, Andrew Nembhard scored 15 points and had four assists and Kerry Blackshear Jr. had another double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds.  Noah Locke had 13 points and made three 3 pointers.

Tre Mann played six minutes against the Muskateers, recording only a steal in his short time on the court. Mann was sidelined for a couple of games with a concussion.


Florida and Xavier both played suffocating defense. Combined, both teams committed 34 turnovers in the game.

Additionally, the Gators’ use of the 1-3-1 zone defense caused Xavier to commit turnovers and gave the Gators more possessions on offense. The Gators scored 22 of their 70 points off of turnovers they created throughout the game.

Xavier tried to run a full-court press with minimal success. Nembhard was able to get the Gators out of traps and saved possessions that seemed to be lost behind half-court. He was pivotal in Florida’s success beating the full-court press.

Shooting woes seem to be gone, as the Gators shot 64% from the field in the first half and 54% overall on the night. Noah Locke found his shot against the Muskateers as well, scoring 13 points off of 3 of 5 shooting from three-point range.

Just what the doctor ordered

During the Gators’ time in Charleston, they seem to have found their groove as a team.

Something coach Mike White said before the tournament was that his team needed to find their rhythm shooting the ball. Being able to play so many minutes in a short amount of time provided the Gators the opportunity to find their shot.

Ques Glover, who is playing in place of Tre Mann in the rotation, provided a spark off the bench that Florida has not had this season. Glover’s speed and ability to finish despite his small frame provided the Gators with a nice change of pace at the point guard position.

Florida arguably played their two most complete games of the season against Miami and Xavier. No longer do fans have to hold their breath when a Gator shoots a shot, or when teams pass the ball along the perimeter.  

In Charleston, the Gators seemed to resemble the team that Associated Press voters ranked sixth headed into this season.

Looking ahead

Florida plays Marshall on Friday at 9 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Coverage can be found on the SEC Network and of course here on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF.

About Steven Walker

Steven Walker is a beat writer for ESPN Gainesville and is currently studying Journalism & Sports Media at the University of Florida.

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