No. 1 Gators Beat Pitt, Move on to Sweet 16

Scottie_Wilbekin_Billy_Donovan_GatorsThe Florida Gators will advance to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year after beating Pittsburgh 61-45 at the Amway Center Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Billy Donovan was not pleased with his team’s defensive performance on Thursday against Albany and made it a point to his players to play better for the rest of the tournament. The players listened and outrebounded Pitt 38-31, made 10 steals and five blocks. The 10 steals helped them get out on the break and tally up some easy points.

Pitt hung around for the first half of the game but a strong defense and the leadership from the Gator seniors helped them take control of the game in the second half and move on to the Sweet 16.

“I knew it was going to be a challenging physical basketball game. Low scoring game, which it was. I was really proud of the way these guys came out and responded from our game on Thursday,” Donovan during his opening statements following the game.

The best performance of the game came from Scottie Wilbekin. He played very well throughout the game but particularly in the second half. He scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half and made big plays to put away the game.

“Coach was really getting on to us and challenging us and just asking us if that was the team that we wanted to be in the last couple of games. I think we did a good job of having our energy up at the start of the game and we played together of offense and played together on defense,” Wilbekin said after the game.

Coach Donovan took Wilbekin out late in the game but later explained that he took him out because of banged up knees.

Michael Frazier is a sharpshooter and he did not disappoint against Pitt. He scored 10 points, made a couple of 3-pointers and grabbed three boards. Earlier this month the sophomore set a new school record of 11 3-pointers in a game.

“It was interesting, last game Frazier didn’t get many looks and I’m not sure the type of looks he had today but he goes 2-for-9 from the 3-point line,” Donovan said after the game.

Big man Patric Young tallied seven points, grabbed eight rebounds and made four blocks. Young is a very dominant frontcourt player but couldn’t finish around the basket in the first half. He overcame that and played well in the second half. The 6-foot-9 senior is a solid player and will probably be drafted late in the first round or early in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft.

The Gators will play the winner of the UCLA vs. Stephen F. Austin on Thursday in Memphis, Tenn.