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Florida 78, Minnesota 64: Gators Hold On

It wasn't as comfortable as the score indicates, but the Gators are safely in the Sweet 16.

Stephen Dunn

Florida ran out to a huge first half lead and needed all of that cushion to hold off a rough and tumble Minnesota team 78-64.

The Gators did just about anything they wanted to in the first 20 minutes. They shot 65% from the field on the way to 48 points, while they held Minnesota to just 27 points. That's right—they led by 21 points while only allowing 27 total. The pace was brisk, something that favored them over the Golden Gophers, and they took full advantage.

In the second half, the game turned dramatically against them. Minnesota got hot from the field finally, and their defense held Florida to just one field goal in the first eight minutes of the period. In addition, the game bogged down considerably as the referees began calling anything that could possibly be construed as a foul (and a few things that couldn't) on both teams. Players on both teams got into foul trouble, as the activist refereeing wasn't particularly one-sided. It's just that the constant disruptions favored Minnesota's preferred method of play and prevented the Gators from finding their rhythm again.

Eventually, Minnesota's hot streak came to an end and Florida found its footing again. The lead only ever fell to seven, though it bounced around in the 8-12 range for a while. Scottie Wilbekin did the most to close the door, scoring eight of the team's final 13 points and playing tight defense. He and Kenny Boynton iced the game away from the line to preserve the win.

Mike Rosario and Minnesota's Andre Hollins tied for the scoring lead with 25 points apiece, including six three-pointers apiece. Erik Murphy was next with 15 points despite spending much of the second half on the bench in foul trouble and eventually fouling out. Wilbekin had 12 points and six assists.

The Gators will play the winner of San Diego State and Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet 16.