As Georgetown was falling victim to Florida Gulf Coast in Philadelphia, the early struggles of No. 3 Florida were less widely broadcast. No need to worry, though, as Billy Donovan’s Gators pulled away quickly in the second half to beat No. 14 Northwestern State, 79-47, Friday night in Austin, Texas.
Against an up-tempo and high-scoring Northwestern State team, Florida was unable to slam the door in the first half and held an eight-point lead at halftime. In the second, the Gators were more able to speed Northwestern State up past its comfort level and force turnovers while locking down on defense and hitting shots itself.
On the night, Florida forced 15 turnovers and held the Demons to 36 percent shooting, including 3-of-16 from behind the arc. Four players scored in double figures for Florida, led by Erik Murphy with 18 points. Patric Young added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Florida now moves on to play the winner of UCLA-Minnesota, which tipped off Friday night around 10:00 p.m. ET.
The biggest key for Florida, regardless of who they meet in the next round, will be their ability to close out games down the stretch. Even in the SEC tournament championship game against Ole Miss, Florida led by 12 points at halftime but ended up losing to Marshall Henderson and the Ole Miss Rebels. Ole Miss beat Wisconsin Friday to advance to the Round of 32.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.
“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”
McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.
“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.
Like the Coaches Poll, Villanova found themselves No. 1 in the AP Poll during the regular season for the first time in the history of the program.
And like the Coaches Poll, there isn’t much in the way of a consensus when it comes to who is the No. 1 team, as there are six teams that received No. 1 votes in the poll this week.
The biggest shock to me?
The No. 1 team in the NBC Sports Top 25, Iowa, received just 11 first place votes and is ranked fourth in the AP Poll.
They were ranked fifth in the Coaches Poll.
Can we get Fran McCaffery the love they deserve?
Here is the rest of the AP Poll:
1. Villanova (20-3, 32 first-place votes)
2. Maryland (21-3, 13)
3. Oklahoma (19-3, 7)
4. Iowa (19-4, 11)
5. Xavier (21-2)
6. Kansas (19-4, 1)
7. Virginia (19-4, 1)
8. Michigan State (20-4)
9. North Carolina (19-4)
10. West Virginia (19-4)
11. Oregon (18-4)
12. Miami (FL) (18-4)
13. Louisville (19-4)
14. Iowa State (17-6)
15. Texas A&M (18-5)
16. SMU (20-2)
17. Arizona (19-5)
18. Purdue (19-5)
19. Dayton (19-3)
20. Providence (18-6)
21. Baylor (17-6)
22. Kentucky (17-6)
23. USC (18-5)
24. Texas (16-7)
25. Wichita State (17-6)
DROPPED OUT: No. 22 Indiana, No. 25 South Carolina
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 USC, No. 24 Texas