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Florida vs. Xavier, Game Thread: Can Gators overcome rugged Musketeers?

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Florida’s final foe in Charleston may be its toughest yet this year.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri State at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators have done well to make it to the final of the 2019 Charleston Classic (8:30 p.m., ESPN or WatchESPN).

If they are going to finish their trip to the Palmetto State in triumphant fashion, they may need their best performance of the season for a second straight game — because the Xavier Musketeers are no joke.

Xavier ran into its roughest game of the year in the semis against Connecticut, and needed two overtimes to finish off the Huskies. But three of the six wins the Musketeers have earned have come in games decided by five or fewer points, with two ending in overtime.

And that has a lot to do with how poor Xavier’s shooting has been. Four Musketeers have taken 20 or more threes this year; just one is shooting better than 32 percent from the floor. It doesn’t matter how many rebounds Tyrique Jones — a player who will remind Gators strongly of Patric Young — corrals if his wings and forwards can’t put the ball in the bucket.

As for Florida? The Gators found ways to get points against Miami on Friday. If they can turn defense into offense like they did in that game, they’ll have a shot in this one.