Florida Gators Rosario reacts after a basket with teammate Young during the second half against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in their South Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Arlington

Florida ends Florida Gulf Coast’s NCAA tournament run, by keeping ‘Dunk City’ grounded

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Florida Gulf Coast ruined your bracket, but captured your heart with Dunk City. And all good things must come to an end. Toward the end of the second half the Eagles in-state foe the University of Florida began to pull away and put an end to the No. 15 seed’s historic run in a 60-52 Sweet 16 win in the South Region on Friday night at Cowboys Stadium.

Early in the first half FGCU made it look as if the Eagles had another exciting performance. However, FGCU ran into the nation’s third-ranked scoring defense. After trailing 19-9 with seven minutes to go in the half, but the Gators finally got it going offensive five minutes left in the half. Florida used a 16-0 run to take the lead it never surrendered. Michael Frazier started it with a pair of 3-pointers. The Gators ended the half outscoring ‘Dunk City’ 21-7 in the final seven minutes.

Florida gave Florida Gulf Coast a strong blow, and the Eagles couldn’t answer against a strong defensive team filled with NCAA tournament experience.

Florida opened the second half scoring five quick points in the first minute of the half, leading 35-26. At this point Florida Gulf Coast didn’t get it closer than seven points.

The Gators defense slowed down the fast-pace, high-flying FGCU offense. The Eagles ended the game with 20-0f-44 shooting, while turnover the ball over 19 times.

The Florida defense kept itself out of the highlight reel unlike Duke and San Diego State. Brett Comer, who got banged up a few times on Friday, ran the show almost to perfection in the first two tournament games with 10 and 14 assists, respectively. He was the one that turned dribbling into a Georgetown trap and throwing what looked like an ill-advised pass over his head into a dunk that made Chase Fieler a YouTube sensation. Florida was able to limit his production, and although he had seven assists he only had four points and turned the ball over nine times.

Mike Rosario had another led all scorers with 15 points, after scoring 25 points in the third round win over Minnesota. Scottie Wilbekin had 13 points. Sherwood Brown had a team-high 14 points for FGCU, Fieler chipped in 12.

Florida advances to play Michigan in the South Regional final on Sunday against Michigan after the Wolverines had a thrilling comeback capped off by Trey Burke’s three in the end of regulation.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.