GAINESVILLE — If the goal is to make the best of an unwanted situation, then Florida got off to a good start Wednesday night in its NIT opener.
The Gators shook off the disappointment of missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year with an 84-62 victory over Jacksonville University (18-14) in front of a sparse crowd of 4,350 at the O'Connell Center.
The win set up a second-round, in-state showdown for the Gators (24-10), who host Miami at 7 p.m. Friday.
"Those guys wanted to go to the NCAA Tournament, they wanted to play," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "But I give them credit that they came out tonight, they said we've got an opportunity to play and they came out and played hard and played well. I don't think they pouted or felt sorry for themselves. They wanted to give a good effort."
The game included a lineup change and, with injuries and foul trouble, the insertion of a walk-on player, Kyle McClanahan. Freshmen Eloy Vargas and Ray Shipman also saw significant playing time.
"It seems like we had more people in sweatsuits than we had playing," Donovan said.
Florida sophomore forward Chandler Parsons was absent from the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 10. He had made 24 consecutive starts.
When he entered the game at the 16:07 mark, Parsons made his presence felt.
He went 5-of-6 from the field and had 13 points and seven rebounds, all in the first half. He finished with 17 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Sophomore guard Nick Calathes scored a game-high 19.
"I think it's always in the back of our minds because we wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament," Parsons said. "But we are where we are. And we're basketball players, that's what we do. So NCAA, NIT, whatever it is, we're going to go out and play our best."
The Gators held JU's leading scorer, Ben Smith, to seven points.
"We definitely didn't play our best," JU coach Cliff Warren said. "We typically contest more shots and make more shots. But, again, Florida is pretty good."
MIAMI 78, PROVIDENCE 66: Jack McClinton made seven 3-pointers and scored 25 for the visiting Hurricanes (19-12), who outrebounded the Friars 44-35. Providence got within four with 3:08 left, but McClinton responded with two straight 3-pointers to put the game out of reach.
VA. TECH 116, DUQUESNE 108, 2OT: A.D. Vassallo had 33 points and Jeff Allen 23, and the host Hokies (19-14) scored on their first five possessions in the second overtime. Virginia Tech hosts Baylor on Saturday.
KANSAS ST. 83, ILLINOIS ST. 79, OT: Jacob Pullen scored seven of his career-high 32 in overtime, and Darren Kent added 19 points for the host Wildcats (22-11). Kansas State's Dominique Sutton put back an offensive rebound to tie it at 73 with four seconds left and force overtime.
AUBURN 87, TENN.-MARTIN 82: DeWayne Reed scored 23 and Quantez Robertson 19 for the host Tigers (23-11), who made a season-high 14 3-pointers in their first postseason game since 2003. Auburn faces Tulsa on Friday night.
CREIGHTON 73, BOWLING GREEN 71: P'Allen Stinnett scored 18, including two free throws in the final minute, and the host Bluejays (27-7) came from behind. Creighton hosts Kentucky on Monday.
BAYLOR 74, G'TOWN 72: LaceDarius Dunn and Kevin Rogers scored 20 each as the host Bears (21-14) claimed their first NIT win in four appearances.
TULSA 68, N'WESTERN 59: Jerome Jordan scored 16 and Ben Uzoh 13 as the host Golden Hurricane (25-10) survived a late scoring drought to win its first NIT game since winning the title in 2001.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.