The Florida Gators played the villain on Friday night, defeating Florida Gulf Coast, 62-50, in their Sweet 16 game and snuffing out one of the NCAA Tournament's great underdog stories. The Eagles jumped out to an early lead and looked like they had a chance to spring another upset early, but as Andy Hutchins from Alligator Army points out, the Gators defense took control of the game:
Florida slowed down the game after that initial flurry, and trapped FGCU in its halfcourt mire — the Eagles wouldn't get a non-transition basket in the halfcourt until the second half — while waiting for its shots to fall. The Gators made just four of their first 20 shots in the first 13:11 of play, and trailed 21-11 before closing the first half on a 19-5 run. Mike Rosario (15 points to lead all scorers) sparked that run with a three, and two threes from Michael Frazier stoked the blaze; by the end of it, Florida had scored 19 points on the half's final 10 possessions, slightly bettering FGCU's 15 on their first nine trips.
Florida held FGCU more than 23 points below their season average, outrebounded them and forced 20 turnovers compared to 10 of their own. The relentless Gator defense completely took the Eagles out of their game, and they simply couldn't adjust to the slower, more methodical style of play.
The Gators move on to the Elite Eight with the win, and will play for a spot in the Final Four against Michigan in the South Regional final on Sunday afternoon.