The (1) Florida Gators (34-2) got back to their dominant ways on Saturday afternoon, outclassing the (9) Pittsburgh Panthers (26-10) in the 2014 NCAA Tournament Round of 32 at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL. The Gators advanced to their fourth-straight Sweet 16 with a 61-45 victory over the Panthers.
OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:
It was over when: Florida was already leading by 10 with 90 seconds left to play when senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin attacked the hoop and finished an up-and-under layup to vault the Gators ahead by 12 points. Wilbekin was responsible for 13 of Florida’s 15 points in a span of 6:51 at one point during the second half with the aforementioned layup the last of eight-straight points he scored for UF.
Prominent player: Wilbekin scored a team-high 21 points for the Gators despite struggling throughout almost the entire first half. He posted 16 points in the final 20:01 of the game and was the main reason that Florida was able to pull away for a decisive victory. He was 9-for-15 from the field and also grabbed three boards, dished two assists and swiped a pair of steals.
Significant stretch: Florida pieced together a 7-0 run early in the second half to jump up 10 points after going toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh for nearly the entire first 20 minutes of the game. The Gators never trailed again and maintained their advantage over the duration of the contest, leading by double-digits most of the time.
Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
First half focus: Down 13-10 midway through the first half, Florida went off on a 10-2 run – including two triples by sophomore guard Michael Frazier II and two steals from freshman point guard Kasey Hill to lead 20-15. Pittsburgh cut its deficit down to two points 10 seconds to play, but Wilekin pushed UF ahead by five at the break by draining a buzzer-beating, floating three-pointer to conclude the half. Frazier was UF’s only other double-digit scorer, posting 10 points despite going just 2-for-9 from downtown.
Perfect plays: Following a missed Frazier three, Wilbekin scrambled for an offensive rebound out past halfcourt. Once he recovered it, a quick toss to senior forward Casey Prather became an exciting alley-oop to senior center Patric Young, who slammed the ball home with gusto to push the Gators ahead 10 with 16 minutes to play. Four minutes later, senior F Will Yeguete knocked a ball away, chased it down to the sideline and fought off a defender to scoop it up before it fell out. He immediately tossed the ball behind his back to a streaking Prather, who finished with an uncontested jam.
Prather scored eight points, adding six boards and three steals, while Young was dominant in the post defensively with eight rebounds (six offensive) and four blocks but only went 3-for-11 with seven points. Yeguete was extremely efficient on Saturday, hitting four of his five field goals for eight points with four boards, a steal and a rejection.
Standout stat: Florida was focused on outrebounding Pittsburgh on Saturday while also delivering a stellar defensive effort. The Gators succeeded in that charge by winning the battle on the glass 38-31 with four more offensive boards than the Panthers. UF also had five blocks (four from Young) and only committed seven fouls in 40 minutes.
What it means: The Gators improved to 10-4 in Round of 32 games and advanced to their fourth-consecutive Sweet 16. Florida also increased its winning streak to 28 games with victories in 33 of its last 34 games.
Next up: UF will face either (4) UCLA or (12) Stephen F. Austin in the Sweet 16 on Thursday at a yet-to-be-determined time in Memphis, TN.