Rosario’s career night propels (3) Florida over (11) Minnesota 78-64 and into Sweet 16 vs. FGCU

By Adam Silverstein
March 24, 2013

As dominant of a first half as the three-seed Florida Gators have put together this season coupled with a strong final nine minutes and a career-high 25 points from redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario fueled the Southeastern Conference champions to an impressive 78-64 victory over the 11-seed Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday and into their third-straight Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who earned his seventh-straight win over Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith, saw his Gators explode with a 27-5 scoring stretch in the first half that put them ahead of the Golden Gophers for good.

Senior forward Erik Murphy and redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario exploded in the first half, while junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was a big-time spark for UF in the second half of the team’s second game of the 2013 NCAA Tournament at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX.

Rosario went 8-for-12 from the field, 6-for-9 from downtown and 3-for-4 from the free throw line for his UF career-high 25 points. Murphy finished with 15 points on 2-of-4 shooting from three, and Wilbekin went 7-of-10 from the charity stripe to post 12 points along with a game-high six assists.

With the game tied at 10 early in the opening period, Rosario hit consecutive threes as part of a 12-2 run that pushed Florida ahead 22-12. Two more treys from Rosario, complimented by one from Murphy, helped the Gators score 11-straight points and extend their scoring stretch to 27-5. UF led 37-15 with 5:17 left in the first half.

Minnesota (21-13) responded with a 10-2 run of its own fueled by four Florida turnovers in five possessions including two especially reckless miscues from Wilbekin and cut their deficit to 14 with 3:12 remaining.

The Gators (28-7) answered with nine-straight points including a second three from Murphy and a highlight alley-oop from Wilbekin to junior F Casey Prather to go up 23.

Florida led by 21 at the break with the team starting 15-for-23 from the field, 7-for-14 from three and 11-for-13 from the line in the first 20 minutes. Murphy (17) and Rosario (15) accounted for 32 of the team’s 48 first-half points.

The Gators opened the second half by committing a bevy of mistakes including committing two turnovers and missing five-straight shots. Minnesota responded by going on a 13-2 run consisting mostly of a trio of three-pointers from G Andre Hollins to cut their deficit down to 10 with 15:40 to play.

The Gophers’ impressive stretch was extended to 19-5 as they brought their deficit within single digits. A three-pointer from Wilbekin put UF up 10 once again, but Murphy picked up his third and fourth fouls inside a two-minute stretch and went to the bench with 11:09 remaining.

Another three from Rosario put Florida back up 13 with 10:29 left, but Hollins netted his fourth three of the half to get his team back within single digits before being forced off the court and to the bench with four fouls of his own.

Suddenly the Gators caught fire again, exploding on an 11-2 run including four-straight made free throws and Rosario’s sixth three of the game. Florida staved off Minnesota’s comeback and jumped back ahead by 17 points with 3:13 left in the contest as it cruised to a 14-point victory.

Junior center Patric Young, who did not make a field goal but went 5-for-6 from the free throw line, finished with five points and a game-high seven rebounds. Prather, senior G Kenny Boynton, junior F Will Yeguete contributed seven points each.

Though the Gators held a 16-8 advantage on the boards in the first half, the Gophers reversed it in the second half (21-10) and won the overall battle 29-26 (13-6 on the offensive glass). Florida registered 13 assists on 21 made baskets but also committed 14 turnovers and allowed Minnesota to score 12 second-chance points in the second half (none in the first half).

The NCAA Tournament continues for the Gators on Friday, March 29 in Arlington, TX. Florida will take on the fan-favorite Florida Gulf Coast Eagles – the first 15-seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament to ever advance to the Sweet 16.

Photo Credit: David J. Phillip/Associated Press


  1. MAR says:

    Scottie was the first player on the team this year to step up when under pressure in the second half. He did exactly what a leader should do. Great to see. It’s awesome that we will play FGCU next, that will be fun. Go Gators!!

  2. Fernzpat says:

    It’s midnight Cinderella, freakin time to head home.

  3. Marlex says:

    I was beginning to have flashbacks to the Ole Miss game in the second half, but props to Scottie and Rosario along with the rest of the team for hitting clutch free throws to get the game out of reach and keep it there.

    Looks like its time for the Gators to take out another Cinderella.

  4. gatorboi352 says:

    Scottie really impressed me tonight the first time in a long time. Showed true grit in that 2nd half. And Rosario was just on fire. Need a game like that out of another guy on Friday!

  5. Michael Jones says:

    Great to see us win with heart and not give up another big 2nd half lead in another big game. Still wish we would see or hit Young and Murphy when they roll to the basket or establish inside position. Still wish we would stop passing up open layups to throw the ball back out to the 3 point line. That’s not championship basketball.

    All in all, good game. Showed some heart and some grit. I like it. GO GATORS!!!

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