GAINESVILLE — Erving Walker won't get to go home and play in front of his family and friends after all. The UF freshman guard, a Brooklyn native, had hoped to make it to the final four of the NIT to play at Madison Square Garden. Penn State will go instead.
Led by injured guard Jamelle Cornley, Penn State defeated Florida 71-62 Tuesday night in the third round.
The Gators trailed 33-32 at halftime, then tied it at 37 with 17:15 to play. Then Penn State (25-11) took a 52-43 lead. The Nittany Lions were 5-of-15 from 3-point range in the first half, but opened the second half 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Florida (25-11) trailed by eight with 3:36 to play, but a tip-in by Dan Werner pulled the Gators within 61-59 with 2:13 left.
But the Nittany Lions outscored the Gators 10-3 in the final 1:44.
Florida's struggles in the second half were magnified because the outside shot failed. After shooting 3-of-8 from 3-point range in the first half, the Gators were 2-of-14 from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes. Sophomore guard Nick Calathes was 3-of-12 from the field, 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. Walker scored a team-high 16.
"The shots just didn't fall," Calathes said. "I didn't have my legs under me. I thought I had good looks."
Cornley had his left shoulder heavily bandaged. The 6-foot-5, 248-pound senior reinjured his shoulder in a first-round NIT win over George Mason. Cornley finished the game with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
"I say this with all respect, he is a nasty, tough competitor," UF coach Billy Donovan said. "I love watching him on film."