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Florida 62, FGCU 50: Gators Hold Off Eagles

It wasn't easy, but Florida put down the FGCU uprising to advance to the Elite Eight.

Tom Pennington

Florida is going to its third consecutive Elite Eight after beating FGCU, the biggest Cinderella in the tournament, 62-50.

Early on, the Eagles had their Dunk City routine going quite nicely. They were running and gunning, connecting on lobs, and setting out to a 17-6 lead through the game's first 10 minutes. The Gators looked like a tight team that wasn't quite sure what to do with its opponents, particularly the flu-addled Erik Murphy. Florida shot just 25% from the field during that stretch. A Casey Prather breakout dunk seemed to wake the team up at the 9:36 mark, and the team finished out the half on a 24-9 run.

FGCU made some runs in the second half, but the smothering Florida defense prevented the margin from ever getting too narrow. The 15-seed was very loose with the ball, and the Gators took advantage to the tune of 19 Eagle turnovers. Thanks to a 13-5 lead in offensive rebounds and a large lead of 10 in the turnover battle, Florida actually took 13 more shots than FGCU did. The latter shot a better percentage, but the Gators' quantity of shots overwhelmed them.

Mike Rosario was once again the high point man for the Gators with 15, but the real stars of the game were guys making plays on defense. Will Yeguete, Prather, and Scottie Wilbekin did the most damage there, forming the core of Florida's most effective unit on the court. Wilbekin harassed FGCU's Brett Comer most of the night, with the Eagle point guard coughing it up a whopping nine times. Sherwood Brown was the top point man for FGCU, putting in 14 on the night.

The Gators move on to play 4-seed Michigan, who stunned Kansas with a come-from-behind overtime win in the site's earlier game.