Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators' March Sadness; Spartans Humiliate Florida

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gators' March Sadness; Spartans Humiliate Florida

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

TAMPA -- Another March Meltdown for Florida, and perhaps the most embarrassing one of all.

Michigan State 68, Florida 46.

"Embarrassed," guard Brett Nelson said.

"We got totally outplayed," guard Justin Hamilton said.

They were both right.

Just two days after beating Sam Houston State by 30 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Gators were humiliated in front of 21,304 fans at the St. Pete Times Forum. It was the second-worst NCAA Tournament loss in school history, trailing only the 23-point whipping by Michigan in the second round of the 1988 tournament.

Here's how humiliating:

The Gators' 16 field goals, 43 attempts, 22 rebounds, and 19 second-half points were all season lows.

Michigan State shot 70 percent in the first half, and that included a pair of 3-pointers from 6-foot-11 center Erazem Lorbek.

Freshman guard Anthony Roberson, who spent 30 minutes on Saturday explaining why he shunned the home state Spartans for the Gators and popped off about being jobbed out of the state's Mr. Basketball award for a Michigan State signee, scored no points. He was 0 for 6 from the field with two assists and two turnovers.

Florida shot just 23.8 percent from 3-point range, making only 5 of 21 shots.

Through the first 12:30 of the second half, UF had taken just seven shots.

Michigan State outrebounded UF 30-22, with 21 defensive boards.

The 46 points were the lowest for a UF team under coach Billy Donovan, and the fewest a Gators team has scored in more than seven years.

"It's beyond me," said Hamilton, the Gators' second-leading scorer [12 points]. "I'm going to step up and take some blame. I'm a captain. I've got to step up and do a better job leading. There's no excuse for the performance we had tonight.

"We got totally outplayed in every facet of the game. We deserved to lose."

The loss continued a disturbing trend for what is supposed to be one of the nation's elite teams. Since reaching the 2000 national title game and losing to Michigan State, Florida has gone 19-5 in games in February, but just 6-9 in games in March. …

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