MEMPHIS — The ladders were being brought out and positioned neatly near the nets, and the basketball court at the FedExForum was filled with family and Florida Gators players.
Yet in the midst of Saturday's celebration, the Gators were already trying to figure out how to balance the pure joy of advancing to next weekend's NCAA Tournament Final Four with keeping things in perspective.
"As much fun as it is today, we have more to accomplish," senior guard Scottie Wilbekin said.
Senior center Patric Young briefly went off to the side during the mass celebration.
"The first thing that came to my mind, I was just in disbelief," he said. "It still hasn't hit me that we're going to be one of the Final Four teams in the country still playing for an opportunity at the championship.
"The next thing that came to my mind was just to go down on one knee and just thank God, just thank him for allowing us this team, just to fight through adversity, do it the right way, and come out on top — to be here."
The Gators said they planned to celebrate hard Saturday night, then get back to business on Monday.
"We're going to celebrate, the sun's going to come up (today)," Young said. "We're going to get prepared for whoever we have next. We keep moving forward. That's our goal, just keep moving forward. Next game hopefully we'll come ready to play. Fearless."
Twice, the charm: He has played just two seasons with the Gators, yet sophomore guard Michael Frazier of Tampa has played in two Elite Eight games and is on his way to his first Final Four.
After the game, still holding his piece of the championship net, Frazier reflected on the season up to this point.
"All those hours in the gym, they are paying off," Frazier said. "Coach (Billy) Donovan always says if you work hard, keep working hard, things will work out. And tonight it just shows that eventually you will reap what you sow.
"We stayed together as a team, and I'm just so happy to be able to do it with this team."
Tickets: UF's ticket office will accept orders for the Final Four in Arlington, Texas, starting today at noon. See gatorzone.com/tickets or call (352) 375-4683, extension 6800, for information.
One hundred twenty: With its victory over Dayton, the senior class of Casey Prather, Young, Wilbekin and Will Yeguete has 120 victories, the most for a Florida senior class.
Ice-saving: Wilbekin could be seen early in the second half getting his legs iced down on the bench by athletic trainer Duke Werner. It turned out to be a huge assist from Werner for the Gators.
"For some reason, as soon as the second half started, I felt cramps coming in my legs, about to cramp up," Wilbekin said.
"So I got some ice on it, and I was fine for the rest of the game."
Did you know? The Gators advanced to the Final Four with four consecutive double-digit victories.
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3389. Follow her on Twitter at @TBTimes_Gators.
NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
|Region semis||Region finals||Final Four||Championship||Final Four||Region finals||Region semis|
|South||Memphis||1 Florida 79||1 Arizona 70||Anaheim, Calif.||WEST|
|1 Florida 62||at Arlington, Texas||1 Arizona 63 OT|
|4 UCLA 68||4 San Diego St. 64|
|1 Florida||2 Wisconsin|
|11 Dayton 82||6 Baylor 52|
|11 Dayton 52||2 Wisconsin 64|
|10 Stanford 72||2 Wisconsin 69|
|April 5||April 7||April 5|
|East||New York||1 Virginia 59||6 or 8:30, TBS||9:10, Ch. 10||6 or 8:30, TBS||8 Kentucky 74||Indianapolis||MIDWEST|
|4 Michigan St.||8 Kentucky|
|4 Michigan State 61||4 Louisville 69|
|3 Iowa State 76||2:20, Ch. 10||About 5:05, Ch. 10||11 Tennessee 73|
|7 Connecticut||2 Michigan|
|7 Connecticut 81||2 Michigan 71|