Three Hits: Deep Gators roll into Sweet 16

March 24, 2013

Three observations after Florida's 78-64 win over Minnesota in the Round of 32 Sunday.

After scoring eight points to go along with two rebounds and one assist in the second round against Northwestern State, Rosario stole the spotlight against the Gophers, scoring a season-high 25 points.

Rosario shot 8 of 12 from the field, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, and further displayed why Florida may be on its way to Atlanta.

The Gators again flexed their depth as Erik Murphy had 15 points to go along with four rebounds and Scottie Wilbekin had 12 points and six assists, this is a team that is built on balance.

It was Murphy and Patric Young (16 points and nine rebounds) that led the way vs. Northwestern State and while Young took a back seat, scoring just five points and seizing seven rebounds, the Gators still had six players with at least seven points. And it was a player that last hit 20 points on Feb. 16 against Auburn that led the way in Rosario.

The Gators simply don't rely on one player. In this format, that's a dangerous trait to have.

Florida improved to 19-0 on the season when scoring 20 points, and the reason for that is its suffocating defense.

The Gators, who were second in the nation in allowing just 53.5 points per game, earned their 23rd straight win in which they held the opponent to 64 points or less.

It was a commanding performance, and while Florida may have proven itself vulnerable at times in the SEC slate, they've looked anything but so far in this tournament. That is unless you want to put your focus on ...


The Gators rank 15th in Division I in holding opponents to 29.7 percent three-point shooting, but they still had their hands full against Andre Hollins, who hit six of his 10 attempts in finishing with 25 points. In all, Minnesota was 8 of 18 (44.4 percent).

Hollins' six three-pointers were an NCAA tournament record for Minnesota and he clearly had the Gators attention. But he was still effective enough to keep the Gophers in this game for much of the second half.

There are two ways of looking at this: 1. Even against a hot shooter like Hollins, the Gators defense overall was still good enough (Minnesota shot 40 percent from the field) to move on or 2. An opponent with multiple three-point threats -- Austin Hollins, who hit two threes, was the only other Gopher to connect from deep, and with six attempts he was the only other player besides Andre Hollins to attempt more than one -- could give Florida some major trouble.

Will it be No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, the Gators' Sweet 16 opponent, who hit seven threes in knocking off San Diego State?