Billy Donovan’s Gators put the memories of Thursday’s slow start behind them, and came out ready to play. Florida used smothering defense and efficient offense to advance to their fourth straight Sweet 16 as they defeated the Pittsburgh Panthers 61-45.
This game was billed as a defensive struggle, but the only team struggling was the Panthers. Florida’s defense bothered Pitt all game, forcing them to routinely take bad shots late in the shot clock, and holding the nine-seed to just 37 percent shooting. Pittsburgh finished 27 points below their season average.
In addition to great D, Florida took care of the rock on offense. Their only turnover of the second half was an intentional shot clock violation in the final seconds of the victory. The Gators also won the rebounding battle and committed fewer fouls.
When Florida was focused on putting the game away, Senior Scottie Wilbekin took over, scoring 21 points and directing traffic for the Orange and Blue. Patric Young struggled to score, but Will Yeguete carried the load, scoring eight points on four of five shooting. Michael Frazier II added ten points of his own.
The top seeded Gators (33-2) will head for Memphis for a Thursday game against a foe yet to be determined (Stephen F. Austin vs. UCLA).