No. 3 Florida pulls away in second half to beat No. 14 Northwestern State

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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_

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.