Andrew Nembhard had 15 points and tied a career high with three 3-pointers, and the hot-shooting Florida Gators squandered most of a 17-point second-half lead before holding off the No. 18 Xavier Musketeers 70-65 to win the Charleston (S.C.) Classic on Sunday night.
Kerry Blackshear had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and his two free throws with 7.5 seconds remaining secured the victory for the Gators (5-2), who shot 54.2 percent from the field and made a strong case for a return to the AP Top 25.
Keyontae Johnson scored 15 points and earned tournament MVP honors. Noah Locke had 13 points for the Gators, who were ranked No. 6 in the preseason poll before falling out of the rankings after losses to Florida State and Connecticut.
Paul Scruggs had a season-high 24 points, Tyrique Jones had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Quentin Goodin had 11 points and three 3-pointers for the Musketeers (6-1). Xavier was attempting to win its first seven games for the first time since 2016-17.
With Florida seemingly in control, Goodin hit two 3-pointers during a late 10-1 run, and his second closed the Xavier deficit 68-65 with 1:09 remaining. After Locke missed a 3-pointer, Scruggs missed an open three from the left wing, and Blackshear converted his two free throws after being fouled on the rebound.
The Gators have held all seven opponents to 65 points or fewer.
Florida hit six of its first 10 3-point attempts and finished 7 of 18 from deep. Locke finished 8 of 16 from distance in the tournament.
Naji Marshall, the Musketeers’ leading scorer, had six points on 3-of-8 shooting, with three rebounds and four assists. He took one shot and did not score in the second half.
Xavier shot 44.4 percent and had 18 turnovers.
—Field Level Media