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Saturday March 22, 2014At the Buzzer: Florida 61, Pittsburgh 45 (Instant Analysis)

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer


WHAT HAPPENED: In a classic, late-March, grind-it-out NCAA Tournament game, Scottie Wilbekin scored 21 points and the top-ranked, top-seeded Gators held No. 9 seed Pittsburgh to just 37-percent shooting, taking a second-half lead and eventually putting the Panthers away. UF was not great on the perimeter (just 5-for-25 from the 3-point line), but did shoot 45 percent after the break, and the Florida defense kept coming and wore down the Panthers and compounded their insistance to run long possessions deep into the shot clock. Pitt did not handle UF's full-court pressure well, as the Panthers made enough mistakes for the Gators to score 16 points off 11 turnovers against a team known for taking good care of the ball. Wilbekin scored 13 points after halftime, including eight straight inside five minutes after Pitt had cut a 14-point lead to eight.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Gators (34-2) advanced to the Sweet 16 for fourth straight year, but will have to wait until Sunday to see if they’ll face either fourth-seeded UCLA (27-8) or 12th-seeded Stephen F. Austin (32-2), who play Sunday night at 7:10 in a South Region game at San Diego.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wilbekin was great, but with post players Patric Young and Dorian Finney-Smith combining to go just 5-for-19, senior forward Will Yeguete provided a huge boost in making four of five shots and finishing with eight points, his most since getting 12 in a Feb. 8 home win against Alabama, to go with four rebounds. And a hand to UF's four seniors (Wilbekin, Young, Yeguete and Casey Prather), who have reached the Sweet 16 in each of their four seasons and won for the 118th time in their careers, a program record for a class.

STAGGERING STATISTIC: Pittsburgh came in averaging 72.6 points per game. The Panthers finished 27 points below that average. Great defense by the Gators.

SUBPLOTS: Maybe the naysayers that came out after Thursday night’s lackluster showing against Albany will calm down a bit. And give it up for the Florida fans who not only showed up -- they did Thursday against Albany too -- but were vocal from the get-go and provided the homecourt advantage everyone was expecting for the Gators for a regional game in Orlando.


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