It was a good day for teams from the state of Florida, with three teams from the Sunshine State advancing to play in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. First Miami took care of Pacific, then Florida Gulf Coast pulled off an unexpected upset of Georgetown and Florida followed suit with a 79-47 win over a high-powered Northwestern State team.
The Demons, the nation’s highest scoring team at 81 points per game, played well for much of the first period but about halfway through the second half they began to wear down. Head coach Mike McConathy substituted his players liberally, sometimes opting to send five fresh bodies out on the court at a time. His strategy worked in the first half, with eight different Demons scoring, but with mounting team fouls he was forced to abandon this plan as the game progressed.
Florida controlled the offensive glass and any time a Gator missed a shot, a teammate wasn’t but a few steps away waiting to collect the rebound and score quickly thereafter.
"In the second half we came together as a team, and the main difference was our rebounding," said Gator point guard Kenny Boynton.
The Gators would finish with 44 points in the paint thanks to 16 offensive rebounds and plenty of penetration from guards Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin.
"Scottie and Kenny did a good job of finding Patric and Erik down low throughout the game," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said.
Boynton and Wilbekin combined for 22 points, but Erik Murphy led the charge for the Gators with 18 points and eight rebounds. Patric Young would add 16 points and nine rebounds of his own to cap off an impressive performance by the Gators.
"Tape doesn't do Murphy and Young justice in terms of their length," Demons head coach Mike McConathy said. "They are so long and quick that it was impossible to deal with."
DeQuan Hicks was the lone bright spot for the Demons, scoring 12 points, collecting eight rebounds and handing out two assists. While his assists came in style, one by way of a no-look dish for a dunk, no other Demon got going offensively. As a team the Demons did not make a three point attempt in the second half.
"We got back in transition a lot better and decided we were going to get more stops on defense," Murphy said.