Ultimately, the No. 7-seeded Gators emerged with a 75-70 victory over the Hokies thanks in part to a pair of big plays in the overtime period.
Florida forward Anthony Duruji provided the initial spark in overtime with a massive dunk over Virginia Tech star Keve Aluma. The poster jam also resulted in Aluma's fifth foul:
Bill Raftery status: EXCITED pic.twitter.com/aAo5zElOuR
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 19, 2021
The Hokies would not go down quietly despite losing both Aluma and fellow starter Justyn Mutts to foul trouble.
Virginia Tech cut the deficit to just one with under 30 seconds to go. But Gators guard Tre Mann hit a cold-blooded, step-back triple to essentially stick a dagger in the Hokies:
The game truly did epitomize March Madness.
Virginia Tech led by as many as 10 points early and had an eight-point lead in the second half. But the Gators seized command thanks to the tremendous two-way play of center Colin Castleton, who consistently asserted his will on the low block.
Florida charged ahead, leading by as many as six points in the second half. However, the Hokies had a rally of their own.
Virginia Tech kept within striking distance, and a pair of missed free throws by Duruji led to a game-tying triple by Hokies guard Nahiem Alleyne:
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 19, 2021
Castleton and Mann would not be denied in the overtime period, however. Castleton scored five points and pulled down multiple big boards in the extra frame, guiding the Gators to a thrilling first-round victory.
It sure is great to have March Madness back.