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_
One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.
Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.
How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?
Well, it seems.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.
And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.
“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”
He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.
But credit the Cardinals for responding.
Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.
Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.
Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.
According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.
Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.