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The Gators advance to face No. 9-seed Pittsburgh on Saturday for a berth in the Sweet 16.

Thursday March 20, 2014AT THE BUZZER: Florida 67, Albany 55 (Instant Analysis)

The Gators advance to face No. 9-seed Pittsburgh on Saturday for a berth in the Sweet 16.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer


WHAT HAPPENED: Survival, that’s what. The nation’s No. 1-ranked team played one of its most uninspired games of the season Thursday, allowing the 16th-seeded and unheralded Great Danes to hang around for nearly the entire game before a flurry of nine straight points allowed the Gators to open up a lead and eventually breathe easier by moving into the NCAA Tournament South Region’s second round. Senior forward Casey Prather scored 16 points, senior center Patric Young had his first double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, and a couple reserves, sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith (16 points, 3 rebounds) and freshman point guard Kasey Hill (10 points, 2 steals), provided a huge lift for a UF bench that outscored Albany's 26-2.

WHAT IT MEANS: Top-seed Florida (33-2), winner of 27 straight, moved on to the NCAA Round of 32 for the fourth straight year, and will face No. 9-seed Pittsburgh (26-9) in Saturday’s session at the Amway Center. The Panthers, out of the Atlantic Coast Conference, destroyed 8th-seeded Colorado 77-48 in the early game.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Hill was questionable for the game because of a turf toe suffered during practice Wednesday at Bishop Moore High School. He took part in a shoot-around earlier in the day, was cleared to play during warmups and the Gators needed him, as this wasn’t one of the better games for Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin (10 points, 1 assist). Hill went 3-for-4 from the floor, made all four free throws, had a pair of steals and really pushed the tempo. His 10 points were the most for Hill since scoring 14 against Arkansas-Little Rock on Nov. 16.

STAGGERING STATISTIC: The game was tied at 39 with 14:30 to play in the game. That, the general tone of the game, not to mention the small margin of victory were pretty staggering for the pro-UF crowd of 16,064 at Amway.

SUBPLOT: No. 1 seeds were an all-time 116-0 coming into the game. A lot of Gators fans had to be thinking some pretty morbid thoughts early in the second half.


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