The Florida Gators overcame a flurry of energy from the Northwestern State Demons to cruise to a 79-47 victory in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Gators advance to the third round where they’ll face the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday, March 24 at 6:10 PM.
The Demons gave the Gators all they had for the first 20 minutes, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough. Northwestern State employed a line-change strategy that kept the Gators on their toes early and kept the game close. But Florida’s talent and ability to withstand Northwestern State’s 10-man rotation, helped the Gators pull away in the second half. And it was definitely a story that went that way–a tale of two halves to an extent. Florida took a 40-32 lead into the locker room at the break, but blew that wide open outscoring the Demons 39-15 in the second half.
The Gators took advantage of a shooting advantage throughout the second half. For the game, Florida made 47.5% of it’s attempts from the floor while holding Northwestern State to only 36%. Early, it appeared as if the Gators would fight for a victory like many other of the second round winners (we won’t even get into those that lost–HI GEORGETOWN!). Once Florida found it’s grove though, it was over. The Demons had no answer to the Gators second-half onslaught and Florida easily advanced.
The stars for Florida were senior forward Erik Murphy and junior center Patric Young. The two combined for 34 points on 14-for-21 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds. As usual, as went Murphy, so went the Gators. The senior has scored 15 or more points in 13 games this season and Florida is 11-2 in those contests. And going one better, the Gators are 12-1 when he shoots 60% or better from the field. In that one loss (to Kansas State who bowed out of the tourney in a second-round upset), he shot exactly 60%. When he goes over that number, Florida is undefeated. So in summary, get Murphy open and let him shoot.
The Gators move on to the Gophers, who didn’t just upset UCLA on Saturday, but embarrassed the Bruins. It could be another case for getting the ball to Murphy and Young. Minnesota has only two players taller than 6’8″ on their roster and those two combine for only 20.5 minutes per game. Murphy and Young combine for 53.3. It could be another good one for the big men depending on what strategy head coach Billy Donovan employs.
On to the next round and a chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.