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Florida 67, Albany 55: Gators Hang On to Defeat Great Danes

It wasn't a work of art, but it doesn't have to be in March.

Florida came out listless and never took strong control of the game, but it did pull off the 67-55 win to open the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

The Gators trailed for some stretches in the first half, and not just at the beginning of the game. They led more than they didn't before halftime, but they couldn't pull ahead by more than six. They couldn't just turn on the jets and blow the doors off of the Great Danes in the second half either, as it remained close for about the first five and a half minutes. A quick 9-0 run gave Florida some breathing room at 48-39 with 11 to go, but they sustained that margin the rest of the way rather than pouring it on and extending it.

The player of the game was Albany's DJ Evans, who had 21 points and seven rebounds. He caused all kinds of problems for the Gators all game long, often being the one to halt UF's momentum or make a critical play. Casey Prather and Dorian Finney-Smith had 16 apiece for the Gators, while Patric Young had his first double-double (believe it or not) with 10 and 10.

Basically, this was the Florida team that twice failed to beat Auburn by double digits and beat Vandy by three. Sometimes the Gators just can't string more than three good possessions together. The larger issue was that the threes just weren't falling, as the Gators only hit three of 12 from behind the arc. Maybe it's a vision thing after going from the Georgia Dome to the Amway Arena. It shouldn't have been a big issue, as Florida could get most of what it wanted near the rim against the undersized Danes. However as you might guess from the final score, it didn't attempt to exploit that advantage consistently.

The Gators advance to the next round to face 9-seed Pitt, which torched Colorado 77-48 earlier today.