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Florida, Florida State win NIT openers

Florida center John Egbunu (15) lays the ball to the basket past North Florida guard Beau Beech (2) during NCAA basketball action in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (Gary Lloyd McCullough/The Florida Times-Union via AP) FLJAJ201

Florida center John Egbunu (15) lays the ball to the basket past North Florida guard Beau Beech (2) during NCAA basketball action in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (Gary Lloyd McCullough/The Florida Times-Union via AP) FLJAJ201

JACKSONVILLE — Dorian Finney-Smith had 18 points and nine rebounds and John Egbunu, playing with a brace on his right hand due to a torn thumb ligament, had 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead Florida to a 97-68 win over North Florida on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT.

The Gators (20-14), playing in the Ospreys' gym because of renovations to the O'Connell Center, hit a season-high 16 3-pointers, including 12 of 19 in the first half. KeVaughn Allen hit 4 of 7 3s, Justin Leon hit 3 of 5 and Chris Chiozza sank all three of his.

Florida led 22 at halftime and emptied its bench in the second. Fifth-year senior walk-on Lexx Edwards hit the first field goal of his career, a 3-pointer in the final two minutes.

The Gators visit Ohio State on Friday night.

FSU 84, DAVIDSON 74: Dwayne Bacon scored 23 and Malik Beasley added 21 to lead the host Seminoles (20-13) in the first round of the NIT.

Beasley made 3 of 3 3-pointers as FSU made 3 of 13 overall. Bacon hit 9 of 10 free throws.

FSU led 30-26 at the break then opened the second half on an 11-6 run for a 41-32 lead. The Seminoles got easy baskets inside off offensive rebounds while Davidson started 2-of-6 from 3-point range.

Davidson pulled within 65-57 with 5:37 left, but FSU answered with six quick points, highlighted by Beasley's fastbreak dunk.

FSU, playing in the NIT for the third time in four years, next faces Valparaiso at 7 p.m. Thursday.

EX-SPARTAN CHARGED: Former Michigan State star Mateen Cleaves is accused of sexually assaulting a woman he met at a charity golf outing last year and was charged with multiple felonies. Cleaves, 39, is accused of taking the 24-year-old woman to a motel in Mundy Township, southwest of Flint, Mich., on Sept. 15, keeping her against her will and sexually assaulting her, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said in an email.

LOUISVILLE: Coach Rick Pitino said he saw "nothing unusual" during occasional visits to the dormitory where a former member of Pitino's staff allegedly hired strippers for recruits and players. Escort Katina Powell said Andre McGee paid her and other dancers $10,000 for 22 strip shows from 2010-14 at Billy Minardi Hall. Several investigations are ongoing.

MISSOURI: Sophomores Namon Wright and Tramaine Isabell have decided to transfer, becoming the fourth and fifth players with eligibility remaining to leave since last fall.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Coach Frank Martin suspended five reserves for what he called a "conduct issue." Backup guards Marcus Stroman, Jamall Gregory and TeMarcus Blanton and reserve forwards Chris Silva and Eric Cobb were suspended indefinitely hours before their NIT opener against High Point.

WAKE FOREST: Center Andre Washington and guard Rondale Watson plan to transfer. Washington has one season of eligibility left. Watson will have to sit out the coming season as a transfer and will have two years of eligibility starting in 2017-18.

SEC: The Southeastern Conference is enlisting former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese's help to improve the league's fortunes. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Tranghese will serve as special advisor to the commissioner for men's basketball. The move came two days after the league only got three teams into the NCAA Tournament, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Florida, Florida State win NIT openers 03/15/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 11:35pm]
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