Gators claw past Bruins 73-65 to reach Sweet 16

By Adam Silverstein
March 19, 2011

Fighting for a berth in the Sweet 16, the No. 2-seed Florida Gators had to deal with a familiar postseason foe in the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins. Utilizing a spectacularly clutch three-pointer by junior point guard Erving Walker as part of a 7-0 run over the final 1:15, the Gators (28-7) defeated the Bruins (23-11) 73-65 in the third round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL on Saturday.

Walker scored a team-high 21 points – on 5-of-8 shooting (3-for-5 from downtown) with eight free throws in 10 attempts – to give UF their third-straight victory over UCLA in the NCAA Tournament and a 3-0 all-time record against the Bruins. The Gators improved to 20-1 on the season when leading at the half and 23-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points while reaching the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history.

Florida and UCLA each achieved four-point leads in the first half, which was filled with plenty of back-and-forth action including four ties and eight lead changes. The Bruins started with a 20-10 rebounding advantage (9-0 on the offensive glass), but the Gators outscored them 7-4 to close the half and took a 35-33 lead going into the break.

The give-and-take action continued in the second half with either the score being tied or Florida holding a slight advantage through most of the latter period. With the contest coming to a conclusion and 6:34 left to play, the Gators stepped up their efforts.

UF senior forward Chandler Parsons registered an athletic rejection on UCLA center Joshua Smith with the game tied at 55, an action that jump-started his team to a 6-0 run via a pair of threes from sophomores guard Kenny Boynton and F Erik Murphy.

Bruins F Tyler Honeycutt immediately cut the Gators’ lead in half with a big trey and Florida held on to their three-point advantage until Smith hit a layup to reduce UCLA’s deficit to one with 1:33 remaining in the game.

Back on offense, Gators redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin missed a layup; UF got the ball back and inbounded it near half court to Walker, who drained a triple from beyond the arc. With Florida up four and the clock ticking down, all UCLA could do is foul. Walker hit four free throws down the stretch and scored 10 of his team’s final 12 points to give the Gators a game-high eight-point lead, which also ended up as the margin of victory.

Florida utilized a total team effort to take down Los Angeles. Macklin finished the game with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and three boards (two offensive), and freshman C Patric Young posted eight points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks in reserve minutes behind him. Senior F Alex Tyus contributed eight points as well as a career- and team-high 13 rebounds, and Murphy scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting.

Walker and Boynton were responsible for all of the backcourt production, with Boynton scoring 12 points even though he was limited toward the end of the game after injuring his ankle coming down from a three-pointer. Parsons and Boynton each posted a team-high five assists with Parsons also adding seven points and five boards.

The Bruins saw four players score in double figures with Smith and F Reeves Nelson each contributing a team-high 16 points; Nelson also notched a team-high 11 rebounds. Honeycutt scored 13 and hit three of his six attempts from downtown, while G Malcom Lee added 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Though the differential was two-to-one in the first half, UF and UCLA each grabbed 30 rebounds. The Gators outshot the Bruins 50.0 percent to 41.8 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent to 23.1 percent from downtown. Florida was also faced with a 5-15 free throw disparity early but saw a 12-10 advantage in the second half.

UF will face the winner of BYU/Gonzaga (to be contested Saturday at 7:55 p.m.) in regional semifinals action on March 24. Additional information forthcoming.

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

14 Comments

  1. DGlockUF says:

    Another great tourney win.

    GO GATORS!!!

    Any word on Kenny B’s injury?

  2. uf_84 says:

    Great win in a tough game against a tough group from UCLA. This is starting to get good. The Gators are playing very well so far and we all know what kind of majic Billy can work when he gets the boys rolling in the tourney. Get some ice on that ankle Kenny. Go Gators!!!

  3. Zooker says:

    HEART!!! *Pounding on the left side of my chest* Shouting, “WHAT!”

  4. Basshole says:

    Big win! I was pacing the house the entire second half, afraid we would blow it.

  5. scooterp says:

    Amazing game for Walker – the kid is a warrior. Well done, Gators – 4 more!

  6. Ken (CA) says:

    Great win! Amazing how much they have matured over the past 4 years. I see why Billy keeps saying how rewarding coaching this team has been.

    If only Boynton would improve his shot selection. It seems like he feels like he is competing with walker, everytim Walker sinks one, he wants to run down court and jack one up to keep up with him. Needs to learn more patience and work the clock!

  7. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Erving Walker was in beast mode the entire game!
    Here we come New Orleans! You better watch out!

  8. Ken (CA) says:

    wow! and the SE region just became wide open for the Gators to take care of business now!

  9. Doc says:

    Pitt is gone, just need to take out jimmer!

  10. FLA_GATORZ says:

    Gooooo GATORS!!!! Great job!

  11. Jjd says:

    Can I catch this on replay anywhere? Had a dvr disaster while working?

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