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UConn 63, Florida 53: Gators Fall in Final Four

Florida looked great to begin the game, but it didn't last.


Florida got out to a hot start but went cold as UConn closed out the Gators' season 63-53.

UF got out to a great start, going up 16-4 in the first 10:10 of the game. The Gators' defense stifled everything the Huskies wanted to do, and their offense looked fluid and effortless. Once UConn finally made a three, courtesy of DeAndre Daniels with 8:51 on the clock, the game turned entirely. Kevin Ollie's team went on an 11-0 run to pull within one, and the shellshocked Gators never recovered.

Ollie switched to a smaller faster lineup, and Billy Donovan never did figure out a good way to counter it. A huge part of the problem was the defense by Shabazz Napier and especially Ryan Boatright. Napier had four steals to Boatright's one, but both forced a lot of poor decisions by Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill. Wilbekin was bothered by leg cramps throughout, and they had to have bothered him because he has never launched as many awful bricks in a game as he did today. The lack of even mediocre play from the point guards left Florida with three assists for the whole game, two of them by forwards.

UConn began the game 2-9 from the floor, but it went 22-34 (64.7%) the rest of the way. Daniels was the high point man for UConn, while Boatright had 13 and Napier had 12. Patric Young had 19 for Florida, while Casey Prather added 15. Those two guys were 13-23 from the floor; the rest of the team was just 6-26 (23%). After Michael Frazier made a three pointer mere seconds into the game, Florida would miss the other nine triples it attempted.

The fatal flaw here was the one you would have guessed for Florida: it doesn't have a go-to guy on offense. Young and Prather had good overall offensive games, but they don't create their own offense. With the guards taken completely out of their games, they couldn't move the ball or distribute effectively. Plus with the team shooting just 39% from the floor, the Gators couldn't set up their defense off of made shots nearly often enough.

It was still a historic year for the Gators, what with their 30-game win streak and Final Four run. It was a magical run for a team led by four seniors, a rarity in today's game. It just ran into a team that was a bad matchup for it, and the better team on the floor today won.