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)

UConn stuns top-seeded Florida, 63-53, in NCAA Tournament semifinal

ARLINGTON, Texas — Florida senior forward Casey Prather sat at his locker inside AT&T Stadium, his eyes red from crying, and tried to put his heartbreak into words. Freshman guard Kasey Hill couldn't hold back the tears.

For the first time in 30 games, the Florida Gators felt defeat Saturday night, and it came in the biggest game of the season.

The No. 1 overall seed Gators' record-setting season came to an end at AT&T Stadium with a 63-53 loss to No. 7 seed Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament national semifinal.

It was Florida's first loss since UConn (31-8) beat the Gators (36-3) Dec. 2 in the regular season.

"Certainly we would have loved to have played on Monday night (championship game), but I told them before the game the team that plays the best is going to play on Monday night," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "I thought UConn played better than we did. Unfortunately, for us I didn't think it was one of our better games."

In fact, it was one of their worst.

The 22 first-half points were their fewest this season, and the Gators' 53 points tied the fewest in the NCAA Tournament for the Gators' four seniors. Florida shot 1-of-10 from 3-point range and 38.8 percent from the field, and had three assists and 11 turnovers.

"It just wasn't there for us tonight," said Hill, who had seven points and four rebounds. "We just couldn't get it done."

Senior guard Scottie Wilbekin, who carried the Gators all season and was their best offensive player through the tournament, was hampered by cramps and struggled offensively. He shot 2-of-9, did not hit a 3-pointer and had just one assist.

Tampa's Michael Frazier, who set a school 3-pointer record this season, hit one on UF's first possession then didn't score again, tying his season low.

"On offense, we just couldn't really get anything going," Wilbekin said. "They were being really aggressive and we couldn't really get into our offense. We weren't moving the ball as well. A couple of us were having bad shooting nights."

For a team whose defense has been its staple all season, the Gators struggled there, too. UConn shot 55.8 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3-pointers. Florida let a 12-point first half lead evaporate, trailed by three at halftime and never led again. UConn outscored the Gators 59-37 after being down by 12.

Florida had hoped to use its size advantage inside, but was outscored 36-24 in the paint. Senior center Patric Young led the Gators with 19 points and five rebounds and Prather added 15 points and six rebounds.

"I really just wanted our guys to get a fire in their eyes and realize this game was going to be for the rest of their lives," Young said. "I just felt like we were a step slow today. I didn't see it in our guys' eyes."

UConn forward DeAndre Daniels, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds, said: "We feel like we have been doubted the whole season. We like to go out and try to prove people wrong."

Antonya English can be reached at

Life ends at 30

Since seeding began in 1979, four teams have entered the NCAA Tournament with a winning streak of 30 or more games. None of the four won the title:

Year, team Strk Ouster

2014 Florida 30 UConn, semi

1999 Duke 32 UConn, final

1991 UNLV 45 Duke, semi

1979 Ind. St. 33 Mich. St., final

. Did you know?

• Florida's three assists were the fewest by a team in a Final Four game since 1983-84.

• After taking a 16-4 lead on Scottie Wilbekin's jumper with 9:50 left in the first half, Florida shot 14-of-37 (37.8 percent) from the field. Connecticut shot 22-for-34 (64.7 percent) after that point.

• This was UF's fourth game this season in which it had single-digit assists and double-digit turnovers, going 1-3 in those games.

• UConn is 7-1 all-time in Final Four games, the best winning percentage for any team to play in at least three Final Fours. The Huskies have the most title-game appearances since 1999.

Source: ESPN Stats & Information

UConn stuns top-seeded Florida, 63-53, in NCAA Tournament semifinal 04/05/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 6, 2014 12:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    The 10 strikeouts look flashy, but RHP Chris Archer was not his sharpest Thursday. He allowed three runs on seven hits, including three straight in the two-run second and a Gary Sanchez homer in the third, and lasted only six innings, throwing 102 pitches.

  2. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  3. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lucas Duda
  4. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years


    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard, left, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

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

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.