It didn't take long for the NCAA tournament's first thriller.
The joy was short-lived for No. 10 seed Virginia Tech, which forced overtime with a 3-pointer against No. 7 seed Florida in the final seconds of regulation to tie Friday's first-round game at 64-64. The Gators, which had rallied from an early 21-11 deficit, held on in the extra session for a 75-70 win.
Florida led, 62-59, in the final minute of regulation. But a five-second violation on a failed baseline inbounds play resulted in a Florida turnover with 49.7 seconds remaining. The Hokies capitalized with a Nahiem Alleyne jumper to cut the Virginia Tech deficit to 62-61.
Alleyne beats buzzer to force extra session
The Gators had a chance to ice the game in regulation, but Anthony Duruji missed a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining, setting up some early NCAA tournament drama. The Hokies rebounded the miss, and Alleyne connected on the other end once again, this time with a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left to force overtime.
But the Gators struck first in the extra session and held on this time to advance to secure the win. Tre Mann hit a step-back 3-pointer with 23.4 seconds remaining to give the Gators a 74-70 lead that proved too much for the Hokies to overcome.
The win marked the eighth straight for Florida in NCAA tournament first-round play and sets up a second-round matchup with No. 15 Oral Roberts, which upset No. 2 seed Ohio State later Friday.
Castleton's big line propels Gators
Four Gators scored in double figures, led by junior forward Colin Castleton, who tallied 19 points and 14 rebounds as a dominant force in the post. One of his three blocks was a critical denial at the rim of a Tyrece Radford dunk attempt with 1:06 remaining in regulation.
Castleton also added two assists, putting him in elite NCAA company. He joins Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan, Kevin Love, Nick Collison (3 times), JuJuan Johnson and Zion Williamson as the only players in the last 25 years with 19 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two assists in an NCAA tournament game.
Alleyne led the Virginia Tech effort with 28 points, including the pair of huge bucks at the end of regulation. In the end, it wasn't enough to thwart the Gators.
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