Getting more than they bargained for with the (16) Albany Great Danes (19-15) the overall top seed (1) Florida Gators (33-2) eventually led by just six at the break but pulled away in the second half for a 67-55 victory in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL.
OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin drained a three-pointer from the corner with just over two minutes remaining in the game to push Florida ahead by 12. He was inconsistent throughout most of the contest, scoring 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting (1-of-4 from deep) with four assists, three rebounds and no turnovers.
Prominent players: Senior center Patric Young achieved his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 boards but saw his flow interrupted in the second half when he picked up a third foul. Senior forward Casey Prather not just scored consistently (team-high 16 points) but also registered three blocks and two steals in the game and had one of the best defensive performances of the day.
Bountiful bench: Despite being listed as questionable entering the game, freshman PG Kasey Hill (turf toe) finished with 10 points on the afternoon. He scored eight in the second half when the Gators broke away from the Great Danes and also picked up two steals, an assist and a board. It was Hill’s first double-digit scoring game since Nov. 16, 2013 when he started for UF at home against Arkansas Little-Rock. Joining him as a big-time contributor was redshirt sophomore F Dorian Finney-Smith, who was one of two Florida players with a team-high 16 points, most of which came in the first half.
Significant stretch: Tied at 39, UF pieced together a 12-2 run – with four-straight points and a steal from Hill and a big three by sophomore guard Michael Frazier – to get a bit of breathing room and lead Albany by 10 midway through the second half. The Gators eventually increased their advantage to 12 points, which was also their winning margin.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
First half focus: Florida and Albany had 11 lead changes and four ties in the first 20 minutes as the Gators lacked in defensive intensity and saw the Great Danes drain 10 of their first 15 shots from the field. U-Albany, however, went 2-for-11 to end the half and failed to score over the final 4:46 as UF posted six-straight points – four from Wilbekin – on the way to a 34-28 halftime advantage.
Standout stat: After starting 10-for-15 from the field, Albany hit just nine of its last 36 field goal attempts. The Great Danes tied the game once in the second half, but the Gators never lost their lead and slowly but surely pulled away for the victory.
What it means: UF improved to 15-5 in Round of 64 contests and has not been knocked out in its first NCAA Tournament game since 2010. Florida also extended their winning streak to 27 games with victories in 32 of their last 33 contests. The Gators are now 6-0 in neutral-site games this season.
Additionally, head coach Billy Donovan tied Dale Brown (LSU) for second-most wins by a coach at an SEC school (448). UF’s senior class also became the winningest in program history, tying the 2009 class (Walter Hodge) with 117 career victories.
Next up: With just about 48 hours to prepare, Florida will face (9) Pittsburgh on Saturday in third-round action at a yet-to-be-announced time. The Panthers set an NCAA record Thursday with the largest blowout victory for a nine-seed against an eight-seed when it ousted Colorado 77-48. UF is 2-4 all-time against Pitt, winning the last meeting 77-74 on March 23, 1992.