CINCINNATI (AP) - Erving Walker scored 18 points, and Florida ended Xavier's 30-game home winning streak by beating the Musketeers 71-67 on Friday.
The Gators (10-3) broke open a back-and-forth game by going on a 13-1 run early in the second half, then holding on with 13-of-16 shooting from the free-throw line in the closing minutes.
Xavier (8-4) went more than two years without losing at the Cintas Center, the longest home-court winning streak in school history and the second-longest in Division I, trailing Kansas' 66-game streak. Twice this season, the Musketeers went overtime and kept it going.
Terrell Holloway scored 26 for Xavier, which went 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half, fell behind by 15 points and made a late rally but couldn't get closer than three.
Xavier won in Gainesville 76-64 last season, when the Gators went 0-2 against the Atlantic 10. Florida also lost to Richmond.
The rematch was close until the second half, when the Gators took control while Xavier went from 17:53 to 7:52 without a field goal. Four Florida players finished in double figures, helping the Gators reach 70 points for the first time in eight games.
The Gators had won games with defense lately. They'd held opponents to an average of only 53.7 points in the last seven games.
The Gators' bigger and deeper front line had its way in a tight first half that featured 10 lead changes. Six-foot-10 center Vernon Macklin repeatedly shook free for layups and putbacks, scoring 12 to help Florida end the half leading 31-27. Seven-foot center Kenny Frease had 10 for Xavier.
Florida surged ahead with a 13-1 run early in the second half. Three-pointers by Kenny Boynton, Walker and Chandler Parsons gave the Gators a 50-35 lead with 13:19 to go. Xavier missed its six shots and had a turnover during the decisive run, and managed only seven free throws over a 10-minute span.
With a capacity crowd on its feet, Xavier went to full-court pressure and made a run in the closing minutes. Holloway scored three times off drives to the basket, leading a 12-3 spurt that cut it to 63-59 with 1:22 to go. Florida made 8 of 10 from the free-throw line the rest of the way.
Xavier is playing short-handed again after top freshman Jay Canty suffered a stress fracture in his right foot on Tuesday, an injury that will sideline him for at least a month. Canty led the Musketeers' freshmen in minutes, alternating at guard and forward. The Musketeers lost top 3-point shooter Brad Redford to torn knee ligaments before the season started.
The Associated Press News Service
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