Tonight’s game will go down as one that Florida and its fans would like to forget, but it’s sure to stay in everyone’s minds forever.
No. 1-seed Florida fell to the No. 7-seed UConn Huskies 63-53, eliminating it from the NCAA Tournament and dashing its national title hopes.
Patric Young won the jump ball for the Gators at the start of the game. Ten seconds in, the Gators scored off a 3-pointer by Michael Frazier, who was assisted by Scottie Wilbekin.
That play was one of the few positives in their respective performances that the two guards could boast about, because they would end the game combining for seven points and four of 11 Gator turnovers.
SEC Player of the Year Wilbekin had come off a career-high 23-point game against Dayton, and Frazier had been knocking down threes left and right.
But the key word there is “had.” The two failed to perform in a game when they needed to most. Patric Young and Casey Prather carried their weight with 19 and 15 points respectively, most and second-most for the Gators.
The other big problem Florida (36-3) struggled with tonight was defense. Shabazz Napier was the deciding factor in the Dec. 2 one-point loss to UConn (31-8), but tonight DeAndre Daniels was the Husky thorn in the Gators’ side. He scored 20 points and recorded 10 of UConn’s 28 rebounds.
The Gators could not stop the momentum that was the UConn Huskies tonight. Florida started out the game 16-4, but the Huskies responded with two 3-pointers from Daniels that put them on a run the Gators couldn’t handle.
Florida let 24 of 43 UConn shots fall, which measures out to a 55.8 shooting percentage. The Gators normally allowed only 39.9 percent.
In the end, UConn had Florida’s number this season, handing the Gators two of their three losses. Florida is now included among the four teams that came into the Final Four with 30-plus game winning streaks and failed to win national titles (1998-99 Duke, 1990-91 UNLV and 1978-79 Indiana State).
Florida ends its season with a 36-3 record, 19-0 SEC record, SEC regular season title, SEC Tournament title and a Final Four appearance. Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, Will Yeguete and Patric Young’s careers as Gators are over.
UConn will play the winner of Kentucky-Wisconsin for the national title on Monday.