Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators rout Norfolk State in NCAA Tournament; Marquette next

OMAHA, Neb. — When the NCAA selection show concluded last week, much of the talk around Florida centered on whether the Gators had been given a raw deal with a No. 7 seed, and the difficult task of advancing out of the first weekend with No. 2 Missouri in the same region.

One week later, the Gators have survived, advanced and are on their way to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season.

Florida outplayed 15th-seeded Norfolk State from the start Sunday on the way to an 84-50 victory in the West Region third-round game.

The Gators (25-10) play No. 3 seed Marquette (27-7) on Thursday in Phoenix after winning their first two games of the tournament by a combined 155-95.

Trailing 6-4, Florida guard Kenny Boynton hit his first 3-pointer in the past three games, which started a 25-0 run that Norfolk, which had upset Missouri on Friday, never recovered from.

The goal? Take the Spartans out of the game quickly.

"All our really bad losses this year were when we let teams that weren't as talented as us, we let them hang into the game," UF center Patric Young said. "When you allow luck to come into play, anything can happen. We just had to go out from the gate and let them know that we're not here to play around, we're not going to underestimate you at all, we're going to take you seriously."

The 34-point win is UF's second-largest in the tournament, behind a 43-point victory over Jackson State in 2007.

Against Missouri, Norfolk State shot 54.2 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from 3-point range, but the Gators held the Spartans to 27.3 and 16.7 percent, respectively. Senior center Kyle O'Quinn, who had 26 points Friday night, was held to four points and four rebounds after early foul trouble.

"The ball didn't go in the hoop as smoothly as it did (Friday against Missouri)," O'Quinn said. "That's always frustrating. When your season is on the line and your college career is on the line, it gets frustrating. That's what it did (Sunday)."

Florida's major concern was Norfolk's size — every starter is at least 6 feet 5. But Florida outrebounded the Spartans 48-31, outscored them inside the paint by 10 and had eight more second-chance points. It was the largest rebounding margin of the season for the Gators.

"The two ways they beat Missouri was rebounding and getting loose balls," said Boynton who had 20 points and eight rebounds. "It was a focus on everyone boxing out and going in and getting rebounds."

The Gators, who had shot less than 34 percent from 3-point range in five of their previous six games, shot 35 percent, including 7-of-10 in the first half. The Gators got 19 points from their bench, including forward Casey Prather who earlier in the day had a 101-degree temperature and flulike symptoms.

"It was a great win," coach Billy Donovan said. "I was proud of the effort these guys put in over the last 24 hours."

Florida 84

Norfolk St. 50

Florida Gators rout Norfolk State in NCAA Tournament; Marquette next 03/18/12 [Last modified: Monday, March 19, 2012 11:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Blue Jays

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

  2. Baseball team's eclipse watch during game draws fans from far away


    KEIZER, Ore. — They came from Hawaii, Rhode Island and Alaska, and as far as the Dominican Republic and Australia.

    Players for the minor-league baseball Salem-Keizer Volcanoes wear special eclipse jerseys Monday.
  3. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh


    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  4. 247Sports: Berkeley Prep's Nicholas Petit-Frere top OT in nation


    Berkeley Prep offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere already is widely considered the best player in Tampa Bay.

    Berkeley Prep rising senior defensive end Nicholas Petit-Frere (78) performs a pad drill during spring football practice at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, May 12, 2017.
  5. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …