Florida routs Northwestern State
by David Jones, USA TODAY Sports
AUSTIN, Texas — Fans at the Erwin Center, especially those from Northwestern State, stood and applauded Florida Gulf Coast’s upset win over No. 2 seeded Georgetown that was being shown on the scoreboard during a second half timeout Friday night.
For a half, it looked like the Demons had a shot at a similar upset of the South Regional’s No. 3 seed, Florida. And the fans saw FGCU’s 78-68 win against the Hoyas, the cheering started to rise for another upset.
But in the end, the Gators (27-7) proved to be too much for the Southland Conference champion.
Florida put together a 19-1 run midway through the second half to blow open a once tense game for an eventual 79-47 win on Friday. The thirst in the crowd was silenced quick.
Gators coach Billy Donovan said he doesn’t “pull the plug on their TV or anything like that.” But it’s instances like the FGCU win that causes crowds and teams to lose focus. Florida didn’t let that happen.
“When the ball goes up in the air and it’s tipped to start the game there’s no extra points we get for being a higher seed, we don’t start the game 10-0. … It’s two teams lining up and playing,” Donovan said.
So Florida, which placed four starters in double figures for just the third time in 10 games, will face the Minnesota-UCLA winner on Sunday in an attempt to advance to the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row.
The Gators led just 49-41 after a bucket and free throw by Patrick Robinson with 13:13 to play. Erik Murphy (game-high 18 points, eight rebounds) started the run with a three. Michael Frazier hit three free throws and Kenny Boynton (11 points) had a three-pointer to make it 58-42.
Scottie Wilbekin (11 points, four assists) hit two foul shots, Will Yeguete made one of two and Casey Prather followed with a dunk and another basket and it was 65-42 at the 8:24 mark. Florida wasn’t done yet.
Patric Young (16 points, nine rebounds) hit a foul shot, Prather got the rebound of a miss on the second … [For more on Florida pulls away in second half to rout Northwestern State, click here.]