No. 7 Nevada Wolf Pack can’t rally against No. 10 Florida in NCAA Tournament | NevadaAppeal.com

No. 7 Nevada Wolf Pack can’t rally against No. 10 Florida in NCAA Tournament

By The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — Florida nearly squandered a double-digit lead before finally stopping a Nevada comeback and pulling off a 70-61 upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Kevarrius Hayes scored 16 points, Jalen Hudson added 15 and the 10th-seeded Gators won their tournament opener for the third straight year.

Andrew Nembhard, whose last-second shot beat LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament last week, drove to the basket for a layup with 1 ½ minutes left and Florida scored the last seven points after the seventh-seeded Wolf Pack had rallied from down 18 to cut the deficit to just two points.

The Gators (20-1) were the third double-digit seed to win on Thursday.

Cody Martin scored 23 points and twin brother Caleb Martin had 19 for the Wolf Pack (29-5). The two combined for 28 of their team’s 33 points in the second half of the West Region matchup.

The Gators controlled the pace with their deliberate offense, often letting the shot clock run into single digits before shooting. The SEC’s top-rated defense clogged passing and driving lanes and contested almost every shot.

KeVaughn Allen made back-to-back shots to start a 12-0 run early in the second half that swelled the lead to 51-33 with 14 minutes left.

That’s when things started to turn.

The Wolf Pack began to bother Florida with their full-court press. After Caleb Martin stole the ball from Jalen Hudson in the backcourt and dunked, it was 58-51 with 6 minutes to play. Caleb Martin’s two free throws made it 63-61 with 2:02 left, but Nevada could get no closer.

BIG PICTURE:

Florida: The Gators can count on Nembhard in the postseason. He had only eight points against Nevada, but he came up big when needed and stemmed the Wolf Pack’s comeback with a dazzling drive to the basket against Jazz Johnson.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack made a run to the Sweet 16 last year after overcoming deficits of 14 points to beat Texas in overtime and 22 to beat Cincinnati. They couldn’t finish their comeback against Florida and finish the year with a program record-tying 29 wins.

UP NEXT:

Florida: The Gators play No. 2 seed Michigan or No. 15 Montana on Saturday.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack go into next season off a two-year stretch of 58 wins, the best in school history.

Florida guard Noah Locke drives past Nevada guard Jazz Johnson, left, during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida forward Keyontae Johnson drives past Nevada forward Tre’Shawn Thurman, left, during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida’s Noah Locke (10) leaps for a deflected ball over Nevada’s Jordan Caroline (24) and Jazz Johnson, right, during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Florida guard Jalen Hudson (3) grabs a loose ball over Nevada guard Jazz Johnson, left, during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada head coach Eric Musselman questions a call against his team during a first round men’s college basketball game against Florida in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada forward Caleb Martin drives to the basket past Florida center Kevarrius Hayes, rear, during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada coach Eric Musselman yells instructions during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game against Florida in the NCAA Tournament, in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nevada forward Caleb Martin falls to the court after getting fouled during a first round men’s college basketball game against Florida in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida guard KeVaughn Allen drives up court ahead of Nevada forward Jordan Caroline, right, during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida guard Jalen Hudson, left, fights for a loose ball with Nevada forward Trey Porter during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida head coach Mike White directs his team during a first round men’s college basketball game against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida coach Mike White yells instructions during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nevada forward Cody Martin, left, passes over Florida guard Jalen Hudson during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada’s Cody Martin, right, loses control of the ball as he drives around Florida’s Andrew Fava, left, during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nevada forward Caleb Martin, center, loses the ball while driving between Florida’s Keyontae Johnson, left, and KeVaughn Allen, right, during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada forward Caleb Martin, center, loses the ball while driving between Florida’s Keyontae Johnson, left, and KeVaughn Allen, right, during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida guard Jalen Hudson (3) drives to the basket past Nevada forward Jordan Caroline during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada’s Trey Porter (15) dunks against Florida during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Florida guard Jalen Hudson (3) reacts after dunking the ball ahead of Nevada forward Jordan Caroline (24) during a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada head coach Eric Musselman questions a call against his team during a first round men’s college basketball game against Florida in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida guard Jalen Hudson dunks the ball during a first round men’s college basketball game against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Florida guard Jalen Hudson dunks the ball during a first round men’s college basketball game against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Nevada’s Trey Porter (15) blocks a shot by Florida’s Andrew Nembhard (2) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nevada’s Jordan Caroline (24) shoots between Florida’s Andrew Nembhard (2) and Kevarrius Hayes (13) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nevada’s Caleb Martin (10) tries to get past Florida’s Jalen Hudson (3) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nevada’s Caleb Martin (10) shoots over Florida’s KeVaughn Allen (5) during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nevada’s Tre’Shawn Thurman (0) goes to the basket against Florida’s KeVaughn Allen (5) and Isaiah Stokes, right, during the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)