GAINESVILLE — All season Florida's greatest struggles have come against teams with more athleticism. So with fewer than 48 hours to prepare for in-state foe Miami, taking on the athletic Hurricanes seemed a daunting challenge.
But things turned out differently Friday night.
For the majority of the first half, Florida was quicker and more athletic, and the Gators neutralized Hurricanes star guard Jack McClinton on their way to a 74-60 win in front of 6,525 in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
Florida (25-10) hosts Penn State (24-11), an 83-72 winner over Rhode Island, at 9 p.m. Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
"I do think maybe in a lot of ways they are just out there playing now, just trying to go out there and play," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I don't say that there's not any pressure for them, because I know for those guys there is pressure. … But their attitude and their disposition the last week or so has been good."
The Gators shot 63 percent from the field and 50 from 3-point range in the first half. Miami (19-13) opened stone cold, missing its first seven shots and going 1-of-10 in the first nine minutes to trail 20-2. McClinton scored 13 on 5-of-12 shooting.
UM traveled from Providence on Thursday morning directly to Gainesville after its first-round game Wednesday night.
Florida led 48-32 at halftime. Miami pulled within 11 several times, but couldn't get any closer. UF sophomore forward Alex Tyus had 13 points and 12 rebounds and guard Nick Calathes had a game-high 21 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
OF NOTE: UF freshman forward Allan Chaney has been suspended from the team for the rest of the season, Donovan said. Chaney has a sprained arch and wasn't expected to play but now is not allowed on the bench and won't travel if the Gators reach the NIT semifinals in New York.
Antonya English can be reached at email@example.com.