Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Defense Takes Charge; High-Scoring Demons Unable to Get Offense Going

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UF Defense Takes Charge; High-Scoring Demons Unable to Get Offense Going

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

AUSTIN, TEXAS | Florida's defense has been able to shut down opposing offenses all season.

On Friday night, UF stifled the highest-scoring offense in college basketball.

The Gators held Northwestern State 34 points below its season average, defeating the Demons 79-47 in a South Region matchup to open their NCAA Tournament road at the Erwin Center. The Demons entered the game first in the nation in scoring offense at 81 points per game. UF's defense, ranked third in the nation allowing 53.2 points a game, clearly won the battle.

"I thought our guys adjusted well coming out of the second half defensively," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "We really defended well in the second half."

The Gators (27-7) will now play the winner of Friday night's game between sixth-seeded UCLA and 11 seed Minnesota on Sunday.

In addition to its win, UF got more good news. Georgetown, the second seed in the South Region, was upset by 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast 78-68. The Gators and Hoyas could've possibly met in the Sweet 16 next week. Now, UF is the second-highest seed remaining in the region behind No. 1 Kansas.

Northwestern State's season ended at 23-9, as the Gators improved to 5-0 all-time against teams from the Southland Conference.

UF turned a 40-36 lead into a 68-42 advantage in the second half. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather provided the highlight of a 16-0 run that gave the Gators a comfortable lead.

Wilbekin threw an alley-oop pass from just over midcourt to Prather, who sailed above the basket to dunk the ball. The play gave UF a 63-42 lead with 8:26 remaining.

The Gators had four players score in double figures, led by forward Erik Murphy's 18. The senior made 8 of 11 shots from the field.

Center Patric Young, a Jacksonville native, scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Gators.

"We established the inside and I thought Erik and Patric gave us great post presence," Donovan said.

UF guard Kenny Boynton and Wilbekin also had productive offensive nights for UF, scoring 11 points each.

Northwestern State shot 54.2 percent from the field in the first half, but UF clamped down in the final 20 minutes. …

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