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