(4) Wolverines overwhelm (3) Gators 79-59 as Florida drops third-straight Elite Eight

By Adam Silverstein
March 31, 2013

The third time was certainly not a charm for the three-seed Florida Gators, which trailed from wire-to-wire and watched the more athletic and determined four-seed Michigan Wolverines dominate their Elite Eight showdown on Sunday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX.

Florida (29-8), which became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to lose in the Elite Eight in three-straight seasons since the field expanded to 64 teams, was taken down 79-59 by Michigan (30-7), which moved on to its first Final Four since 1994.

The Gators put together one of their worst offensive performances of the season, entering Sunday’s game with a game plan that simply did not work against a longer and stronger Wolverines team. UF also played lackluster defense most of the contest, allowing its opponent to do basically whatever it wanted in both halves.

In fact, two of Florida’s starters – senior forward Erik Murphy and junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin – combined to go 1-for-17 from the field and 0-for-2 from downtown with seven combined turnovers. The Gators simply never had a chance to blow its third-straight second-half lead in the round because they never had a lead to begin with.

Just like its last game against FGCU, Florida could not buy a shot in the early going while Michigan was red hot from both inside the paint and out on the perimeter. The Wolverines scored the first 13 points of the game as the Gators missed their first six shots and waited nearly four minutes just to get on the board.

UF junior center Patric Young picked up two early fouls and went to the bench less than three minutes into the game, so UM responded by attacking the interior and opening up the contest with a 23-5 lead and 16-6 advantage on the boards.

Florida’s defense improved shortly thereafter but did not take long to falter once again as Michigan took off on a 11-2 run – including the fourth and fifth threes of the first half for Nick Stauskas – to jump ahead 41-17 with 4:08 remaining until half. UF started just 7-for-21 from the field and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.

The Gators finally responded with an 11-2 run of their own, capped by a big three-pointer from senior guard Kenny Boynton, to cut their deficit to 15 points. However, freshman guard Michael Frazier II committed an untimely foul on a half-ending triple by Stauskas, sending him to the line and putting UF in a 17-point halftime deficit.

Florida did its best to make a dent in its hole by scoring the first six points of the second half and cutting Michigan’s lead to 11, the lowest it had been since UM opened up 13-0 to start the game.

Unfortunately for the Gators, they were unable to keep it up. Florida began committing costly turnovers in bunches once again and allowed the Wolverines to take back their huge advantage. Michigan eventually cleared its bench and held on for the huge win.

Stauskas led the Wolverines with a game-high 22 points while hitting all six of his attempts from beyond the arc. G Trey Burke added 15 points with eight boards and seven assists, and F Mitch McGary had 11 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Boynton and junior F Will Yeguete posted 13 points each for the Gators. Murphy had a team-high eight boards and Wilbekin finished with a team-high seven dimes.

Redshirt senior G Mike Rosario, in his last game at Florida, finished with nine points, two rebounds and three turnovers.

Though Michigan had the upper hand all game, it only barely outshot Florida (.462-.411) and actually lost the rebounding battle 35-36. The Wolverines, however, hit 10-of-19 attempts from beyond the arc while the Gators barely shot any triples and made just 2-of-10. UM outscored UF in the paint (38-36), on second chances (11-10) and off turnovers (16-7) with Florida scoring 25 of its 59 points off the bench.

The Gators’ season ends with the team failing to achieve its third 30-win campaign in school history. Florida simply could not hang with a better Michigan team, which handed UF its largest loss since 2004.

Photo Credit: David J. Phillip/Associated Press


  1. joe says:

    Yeguete As Leading Scorer Says It All.

  2. GatorGrad98 says:

    I’m curious… How much does a Friday LATE night (Saturday early morning) game effect these kids to be ready to go a day later??? Some of our kids looked really gassed out there. I know it’s part of the “tournament” environment, but there is zero time for recovery… Regardless, this just really sucks!!!

  3. SJ210 says:

    I think Billy got as much as possible from this group. Boynton completely lost his shooting touch and Patric Young really seemed to regress. Sorry to see Murphy go out like that. I honestly don’t think there is a NBA player on this team. I am really excited about the team we have next year, adding two top ten national recruits in Hill and Walker plus the two transfers. We will have a lot of depth in the front court, which we didn’t have this year. If Hill is as good as advertised and Frazier can continue to develop at SG, we should have another strong team. Elite 8 this year was fantastic IMO. Go Gators!

    • Tractorr says:

      You are correct this team really is a testament to what a great coach we have. Many fans would kill for three straight trips to the Elite 8. Going deep into the tournament every year is how great programs are built. It was still a great year and the future looks bright.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        funny thing is, that is what got Tubby fired at UK – he couldn’t et past th e elite 8 regularly. Hope 20 years from now still ee Billy on our sidelines

    • Michael Jones says:

      You stole my thunder, SJ210. I could go on and on about the Gators looking dazed, confused, bewildered, and outclassed, or Murphy looking like he could use a bowl of Wheaties, a multi-vitamin, and a Red Bull, or #11 STILL being open in the corner raining 3’s down on our hapless and befuddled Gators, but the truth is just as you say: Donovan got as much as could be gotten out of this bunch. We were never a great team. We were a good team at times that was made to look maybe better than we were by mediocre SEC competition. Actually the mercy killing Michigan put on us saved us from REALLY getting embarrassed at the Final Four.

      My hat’s off to Boynton. I’ve been critical of him at times but I thought that he played with a LOT of heart in his last game as a Gator. Same for Prather and Yeguete, as usual. Thanks for the memories, Kenny! You were always a good Gator.

      Oh, and Patric Young, you are NOT ready for the NBA. Stay another year, get some post-up moves, help us maybe finally get back to the Final Four, then go make some money.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        Michigan saved us from getting “really embarassed” in the final 4? So it is OK to get “really embarassed” in the elite 8 against a team that usually has incredibly pourous defense and the best defensive team in the country just lets them score at will?

        I doubt very seriously that a game against Syracuse would be anywhere near the embarassment this game was. Considering we almost beat them at Syracuse last year, and the pick and roll offrense we run should be great against that 2-3 zone.

        • Michael Jones says:

          Uh, if we were the “best defensive team in the country,” then we probably would have figured out who are we were supposed to be covering in the transition game, wouldn’t have let a guy drain 6 3-pointers from the same spot, and wouldn’t have been run out of the gym by a bunch of underclassmen (albeit talented underclassmen). Don’t let statistics fool you. We might have had good stats because we were defending SEC offenses. Just like the Noles in football were supposed to have the best defense in the country because they were defending ACC offenses.

          As for Syracuse or Louisville, we’d be lucky to get to 30 points total against either one of them. I don’t know what games or which teams you’ve been watching, but THIS YEAR’S Syracuse and THIS YEAR’S 2-3 zone is impenetrable and would absolutely shut down THIS YEAR’S Gator basketball team. Furthermore, we don’t run a “pick and roll” (which only works against man-to-man, not zone defenses, btw) because, for some reason, the guy who rolls never gets the ball regardless of how open he is. We run a “pick-and-dribble-around-the-3-point-line-until-the-shot-clock-has-almost-expired.”

          A pick and roll doesn’t work unless you have an attacking guard with the ball. You want to see a pick and roll? Then watch a Louisville game and the way Siva and Smith put pressure on the other team’s big men. When a big man switches out on the pick against us, we just dribble around the 3 point line aimlessly, eating up the shot clock until we’re forced to take a bad shot. A guard is supposed to be able to take a big man on the dribble. For some reason, our guards rarely attempt that.

          • Tractorr says:

            This is my main problem with having Boynton and Rosario on the court at the same time this season. It seemed like they had to similar of a skill set. I know that neither Yegeute or Prather are as offensively developed as Boynton or Ro but if you don’t put them in those situations they won’t develop.

      • Frank says:

        Adam- Wasn’t some of the team and Billy hit with the stomach virus? If Murphy was affected might explain his last two games…just sayin’

    • obgator says:

      I disagree. I think we went away from what got us this far by outsmarting ourselves. Why try to slow the game down and force it inside to Young and Murphy when we saw it fail against FGCU? Michigan had long guards we couldn’t shoot over, but also had no shot blocking so we can get runs to the basket.

      I understand that Murphy is a senior, but he has to have been injured. He was so ineffective on offense and defense that he killed the one chance we had to bring it back down to single digits. He was more than one step slow and had zero lift. Billy is a great coach, but he has to see that Murphy was not only ineffective, but a liability.

      • Tractorr says:

        The main problem there is we don’t have much option after him especially in the first half when Young was in foul trouble.

  4. MAR says:

    I hate to see Murphy end his career so inaffectively. I thank KB, but glad I won’t see another clutch brick from him. Young has no touch inside. He needs to learn post and pivot moves (fakes, pumps, etc.). He is no where close to ready for the inside game of the NBA. A great year and maybe an over achievement (due to coaching) for the talent available. Looking forward to next year! Go Gators!

  5. Michael Jones says:

    I love Billy D but I’m not so ready to crown him with a great coaching year. I think we play soft and we under-develop our big men. When we finally had another team out-sized down low, there was nothing that Murphy and Young could do to take advantage of that. I don’t understand why our guards aren’t taught to attack forwards and centers who pop out to cover them on screens by taking them to the hole instead of backing the ball out just to pass it to some other guard who’s standing around the 3 point line and watch the same routine play itself out ad nauseam until someone has to rush a 1-on-5 prayer as the shot clock winds down.

    I don’t understand why we don’t recruit some of the full-grown 35-year-old-looking men that I see playing for the Kansases, Louisvilles, Michigan States, and Syracuses of this world. At some point you have to get tough and physical to win a championship. We need some guys who can AND WILL bang around a little bit down low (because Haslim, Horford and Noah have graduated). We need a tougher, more physical mindset all over and an offense that attacks from the inside out, instead of the outside in (which always fails us in big games). We’re a little too in love with the perimeter game. We need to get more in love with the inside and mid-range game.

    I’m not a Gator who thinks we have to win’em all to have a good season. I know better than that. But I hate when we get out-toughed, out-hearted or out-smarted in any sport. Losing to superior talent I can stomach. But not that.

    • Tractorr says:

      I would look at all the transfers we have had over the last few years. Most of them were bigs. At first, I thought they just couldn’t hack it, but Kadji sure looked good down in Miami this year. Larson deciding not to play was a real kick in the junk because we didn’t have time to get a juco or somebody to take some minutes.

      As far as guards not attacking, part of the problem is our guards are not very big. Boynton is listed as 6’2′ and Ro is listed at 6’3″ but when they go up against 6’4″ guards they look tiny so I am not sure if those numbers are accurate.

  6. Michael Jones says:

    I forgot to mention Rosario. I thought he played with a lot of courage as well. A lot of fire.

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