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Florida 65, Miami 56: Gators ground Hurricanes as Keith Stone emerges

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A freshman led the Gators on Sunday.

NCAA Basketball: Belmont at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida allowed an 11-0 run early to Miami in the third-place game of the AdvoCare Invitational on Sunday, then responded and led by four at halftime.

The Gators let up another 9-0 run to the Hurricanes to begin the second half — then responded again, and went on to win by nine, 65-56.

And thanks to freshman Keith Stone, it was almost smooth.

Stone scored 15 points — on eight shots, including two made threes — and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench, making his presence felt on an off day for Canyon Barry (0-for-6, zero points) against his Hall of Fame father Rick’s alma mater. He wasn’t Florida’s leading scorer — that was Kasey Hill, who had a season-high 16 points because of an 8-for-10 performance at the line (!) — but Stone was Florida’s go-to bucket-getter on this afternoon, a necessity against a Miami defense that didn’t give up many open looks.

And outside of Hill and Stone, only Devin Robinson (10 points, five rebounds) had any consistent punch for the Gators on offense. John Egbunu struggled until Hill set him up on two of his three assists late, and had seven points on six shots. Justin Leon had four points, but only took two shots. KeVaughn Allen continued his streaky sophomore season with nine points on 11 shots.

They defended well to compensate, though. Florida swatted 11 shots — Egbunu had four to lead the Gators, two of them emphatic — and held the Hurricanes to 38 percent shooting from the floor. Miami tallied just eight assists on 23 makes.

And Florida moved to 6-1 with the win, and scored a second win over a power-conference team away from home in the span of four days.

Florida had just two of those in the entire 2015-16 season — one against Oklahoma State, one against Ohio State. That’s just another very good sign for an improving team that is firmly aimed at a return to the NCAA Tournament.