It wasn’t pretty, but the top-seeded Florida Gators found a way to win and move on. Florida played a furious 16 seed, the University of Albany Great Danes, who won their play-in game against Mount St. Mary’s Tuesday night. Florida beat UAlbany, 67-55 in a game closer than expected.
The first half produced double-digit lead changes and ties, with both teams shooting better than 50 percent, but Florida was able to take a six point lead into the locker room. In the second half the Gators used a 9-0 run to build a cushion that would never go away.
The Great Danes were relentless, making baskets when they needed them, and refusing to go away. With 2:05 left to play, SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin delivered the knockout punch with his corner three.
UF had another balanced offense, with five players scoring in double figures. Dorian Finney-Smith and Casey Prather led the way with 16 points each, followed by Patric Young, Kasey Hill, and Wilbekin, who each added 10. Young grabbed 10 boards, giving him the first double-double of the season.
Billy Donovan, who was “baffled” by his team’s performance, tied Dale Brown for the second most wins by an SEC coach (448). Florida’s four seniors tied Walter Hodge’s class to become the winningest class in school history (117).
The Gators extended their streak to 27 wins, with an overall record of 32-2 (21-0 SEC). Their next opponent will be the Pittsburgh Panthers, who arrive by way of a 77-48 blowout over Colorado. The game is scheduled for Saturday, with the time to be determined.
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