Florida 61, Pittsburgh 45: Gators Shut Down Panthers

Florida's defense carried the way as it stifled the 9-seeded Panthers.

Florida flexed its muscles and showed off its defense in a 61-45 win over Pitt.

It was a tight game throughout the first half as neither team led by more than three until Florida got a brief five-point lead late in the period. Pitt immediately reduced that, but Scottie Wilbekin hit a three as time expired to push the margin back to five at the half. After intermission, Florida's defense really cracked down on the Panthers. Pitt scored just five points in the first 10:30 of the second half, and two of them came less than 30 second in. Florida pushed the lead out to 13 during that time, and while Pitt did cut it to single digits for a short time, it couldn't come all the way back. Wilbekin answered every Pitt bucket in the final five minutes to keep the lead safe until the end.

Wilbekin was the player of the game, scoring 21 points and just killing Pitt over and over down the stretch. Patric Young also stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, eight boards, and four blocks. He and Will Yeguete stayed out of foul trouble (three fouls combined) and provided tough interior defense to frustrate and stifle Pitt's front court. Talib Zanna was the only Panther to hit double digits with 10.

Pitt has had some embarrassing tournament losses in recent years, but this wasn't one of them. It simply lost to a better team and gave that better team a tough time for a lot of it. Even during the time when it went cold from the field, it kept the Gators from running up a huge lead.

Florida will take on the winner of UCLA and Stephen F. Austin in the Sweet 16 in Memphis.

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