FORT MYERS, Fla. – The game gives, and the game takes away. One night after winning at the wire against Seton Hall, Florida hits a three-pointer at the buzzer to steal a 71-68 victory Wednesday night in the championship game of the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-off.
The Buckeyes are now 4-2 on the young season while Florida improves to 5-0.
For the sixth-consecutive game, E.J. Liddell led the Buckeyes in scoring with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He was also 8-of-12 from the free throw line and blocked five shots. Liddell scored 28 points in the game against Seton Hall on Monday and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Kyle Young played just 14 minutes before fouling-out but was impactful in those 14 minutes. He scored 11 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds.
Zed Key and Jamari Wheeler each finished with seven points while Justin Ahrens made a pair of threes to finish with six points.
The first half was a grind at times for both teams. After going more than six minutes without a field goal, the Buckeyes ended the half on a 13-4 run over the final 4:19 to lead 30-26 at the break. Liddell had 13 points, four blocks and three boards in the opening 20 minutes.
Wheeler scored on back-to-back lay-ins early in the second half. Those lay-ins felt big at the time as they gave the Buckeyes a five-point lead which ballooned to as much as 10 with 12 minutes to play. Florida slowly chipped-away and pulled even with 3:30 left in the game.
The Gators tied it again with less than 40 seconds left and after a Liddell missed jumper, Tyree Appleby hit a running three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to give Florida the victory.
The Buckeyes will return home next week to host Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge next Tuesday evening. This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams in the challenge. Tip-off is set for 9:30 p.m. and coverage will be on ESPN.