LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) Walter Clayton Jr. scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, Tyrese Samuel had a key rebound and dunk in the closing seconds and Florida beat East Carolina 70-65 on Thursday night in the Florida Tip-Off.

Florida had its lead trimmed to 67-65 with 1:06 remaining. The Gators missed their next three 3-pointers, but Samuel hustled for an offensive rebound and dunked it with 19.9 seconds left for a four-point lead. East Carolina didn't hit the rim on a 3-point attempt and Alex Condon made 1 of 2 free throws to seal it.

Florida outrebounded East Carolina 51-32, including 21-10 on the offensive end. Samuel, coming off his third double-double of the season, had seven rebounds to go with 11 points.

Zyon Pullin also scored 11 points for Florida (7-3). Will Richard added 10 points and Condon grabbed 12 rebounds.

Ezra Ausar and RJ Felton each scored 14 points for East Carolina (6-5). Brandon Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Bobby Pettiford Jr. added 11 points before being helped off the floor with 45.8 seconds left.

Clayton’s 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting helped Florida take a 37-30 lead into the break.

East Carolina got as close as 62-61 in the second half on a jumper from the free-throw line by Cam Hayes - his first make of the game.

It marked the first meeting between the Florida and East Carolina men’s basketball programs.

Florida travels to Charlotte, North Carolina to face Michigan on Tuesday in the Jumpman Invitational.

East Carolina returns home for a matchup with Delaware State on Wednesday.

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