The Florida Gators advanced to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history after putting together a blowout 84-50 victory on Sunday night in Omaha, NE. No. 7-seed Florida (25-10) routed the No. 15-seed Norfolk State Spartans (26-10) in third-round action, advancing in the 2012 NCAA Tournament in dominant fashion.
The Gators made seven three-pointers in the first half, notched eight assists on 16 baskets, and outrebounded the Spartans 21-13 while holding the lower seed to 25.8 percent shooting (16.7 percent from beyond the arc). NSU did not have a single player score more than three first-half points while five UF players eclipsed that figure.
Down two to Norfolk State nearly four minutes into the game, Florida suddenly erupted on an impressive 25-0 run while going 5-of-7 from downtown to jump ahead 29-6 midway through the first half. NSU was held scoreless for 7:08 during UF’s scoring stretch, and the Gators were able to increase their lead to 25 points moments later.
The Spartans utilized a quick 5-0 scoring spurt to cut their deficit to 20, but it did not even putting a dent in their opponent’s momentum. Florida scored five-straight points to end the half and went into the locker rooms with a 28-point lead thanks to a three by redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario at the buzzer.
The Gators kept the pressure on after the break, taking a 31-point lead less than two minutes into the half, extending that advantage to 36 points with 3:20 remaining in the contest and holding on the rest of the way for a dominant victory.
Junior guard Kenny Boynton led the way for Florida with 20 points (on 7-of-12 shooting) and a career-high eight rebounds along with four assists. Four other Gators scored in double-digits including Rosario (12 points), senior point guard Erving Walker (15 points), freshman G Bradley Beal (14 points) and junior forward Erik Murphy (10 points). Beal and Walker each added three assists and two steals to their respective totals; the former also had a game-high nine boards while Walker grabbed three.
Florida will take on No. 3-seed Marquette on Thursday in Phoenix, AZ at a to-be-determined time. The Gators have now advanced to the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons and four of the last seven years.
Photo Credit: Nati Harnik/Associated Press