Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Gators roll Pittsburgh, advance to NCAA Sweet 16

ORLANDO — After Florida struggled in its NCAA opening-round game, coach Billy Donovan challenged his Gators to go back and remember who they had been all season.

They accepted that challenge, and the 48 hours of introspection worked out well.

South Region No. 1 seed Florida relied on a stifling defense that created 11 turnovers, and a game-high 21 points from senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, for a 61-45 win over No. 9 Pittsburgh in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at the Amway Center on Saturday.

The Gators (34-2) have won 28 consecutive games and advance to their fourth consecutive Sweet 16 this week in Memphis.

"I was really, really proud of the way these guys came out and responded from our game on Thursday," Donovan said. "I thought our defense in particular, both halves it was good, but I thought in the second half it was really, really good."

After taking a five-point halftime lead on Wilbekin's running 3-pointer at the buzzer, Florida led by as many as 14 in the second half.

The Panthers wouldn't go away without a fight, going on a 10-4 run to pull within eight with 5:33 left.

Then Wilbekin took over. The SEC player of the year scored 13 of 15 by the Gators, including eight consecutive, to help Florida pull away for good.

"I would say it just happened," said Wilbekin, who shot 60 percent from the field and went over 900 points for his career. "Our offense isn't really designed for one player to do something. I think we did a good job of having good spacing."

Florida held Pitt to 37 percent from the field (19-of-51) — the third straight game an opponent has shot less than 40 percent — and 4-of-17 from 3-point range.

Florida held an opponent to 50 points or fewer for the fourth time in the past seven games.

"We played great defense, and that was a huge challenge that the coaches gave us coming into the game," sophomore guard and Tampa native Michael Frazier said.

Pittsburgh guard Cameron Wright entered with 29 double-figure games but didn't score his first basket until 9:29 remained, part of a run in which he scored seven of Pitt's nine. Center Talib Zanna was held to 10 points and six rebounds. Pitt's turnovers led to 16 points for the Gators, and Florida outscored the Panthers 36-24 in the paint.

"They're obviously a very good team, and the most physical team we've played all year long," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "They beat us on the glass and beat us to loose balls, and we've got to give them credit."

UF led 27-22 at halftime, the fewest points it had allowed in the first half since it held Texas A&M to 17 on Feb. 1.

"I enjoy that we're here, that we have the opportunity to continue to play, but I'm not going to be happy or satisfied until we reach our goal," senior center Patric Young said.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
As Kevin Kiermaier blasts changes, Rays see empowered Kevin Cash as stabilizer

As Kevin Kiermaier blasts changes, Rays see empowered Kevin Cash as stabilizer

PORT CHARLOTTE — The list of those no longer with the team was going to be noteworthy no matter what Monday as the holdovers, newcomers and wannabes gathered for the first full-squad workout in Camp Dis-A-Ray.Then even before Rays manager Kevin...
Updated: 8 minutes ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballIllinois at Michigan State7 p.m.ESPNWest Virginia at Baylor7 p.m.ESPN2Mississippi State at Texas A&M7 p.m.SECBoston College at N.C. State7 p.m.FSFCreighton at Butler7 p.m.FS1Rhode Island at La Salle7 p.m.CBSSNRutgers at Ohio St...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Brentson Buckner didn't need to bring his resume when he interviewed for the Bucs' job as defensive line coach. No references were needed, either.All the Bucs had to do was ask quarterback Jameis Winston whether the Arizona Cardinals defensive line w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

Trade rumors can weigh on NHL players as deadline approaches

WASHINGTON — Tyler Johnson was as good as gone.Or so it seemed.The scuttlebutt around last year's trade deadline was that the Lightning center could be the piece headed elsewhere to land a top-four defenseman. Maybe Nashville? St. Louis?Then th...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 19

Monday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 11, Central 0
Updated: 1 hour ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Sager Cavalier and November Morton

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Sager Cavalier and November Morton

Sager Cavalier, AlonsoAs soon as the buzzer sounded, Cavalier raced toward the sideline to start the celebration. The junior leaped into the arms of coach Todd Price. The embrace lasted a few minutes as the two jumped around on the court.For the firs...
Updated: 5 hours ago
On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

Defensive end Noah Spence, whose two NFL seasons have both been limited by injuries to his right shoulder, is getting himself healthy for the 2018 season.Spence has kept a low profile since the Bucs placed him on injured reserve in late October, a mo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Rays fans upset about the team's recent moves found the perfect target for their ridicule Monday when the team announced the name of its new blog.The Ray Tank.Announcing... The Ray Tank!Our new blog will have behind-the-scenes stories, photos, and mo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen

Rays journal: Matt Andriese not mad (but not happy either) with move to bullpen

PORT CHARLOTTE — Having spent the offseason preparing for a spot in the rotation, RHP Matt Andriese said he was initially "shocked" when told Sunday that he will begin the season in the bullpen."Ultimately, I'm not happy with the decision," And...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The Yankees’ show of shows is off and homering

The Yankees’ show of shows is off and homering

TAMPA — Move over, Hamilton.The show of shows began Monday at Steinbrenner Field. The Boss would have loved it. Yankees shock and awe began during the first full workout. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton took batting practice. The mere sight o...
Updated: 6 hours ago