The Florida Gators used their superior athleticism to grind down the Pittsburgh Panthers, winning 61-45 in Saturday's Round of 32 opener. The Gators advance to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year and seventh time under coach Billy Donovan.
It was a tightly contested affair in the first half, with neither team managing to separate. Pittsburgh was able to hang with Florida early and were looking to go into halftime down by just two points, but Scottie Wilbekin gave Florida a 27-22 lead with this impressive buzzer-beater.
All season long, Pittsburgh struggled to close the deal against elite competition. That trend became evident in the second half, as Florida started imposing its will and pulled away with an 11-5 run. The dominant performance can be summed up by Patric Young's monstrous rejection here.
With a comfortable double digit lead, the Gators were just toying with the Panthers, as demonstrated by this ridiculous assist from Will Yeguete.
Wilbekin led the Gators with 21 points and Young pulled won eight rebounds. Florida shot 43.1 percent from the floor, but their defense won the day, grabbing 10 steals and forcing 11 turnovers. Talib Zanna was Pittsburgh's top scorer with ten points.