Skip to content

No. 1 Florida, Scottie Wilbekin cruise to win over No. 9 Pitt

Mar 22, 2014, 2:39 PM EST

Getty Images Getty Images

Scottie Wilbekin finished with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot down the stretch, as the South’s top seed, Florida, knocked off No. 9 seed Pitt, 61-45, to become the first team officially in the Sweet 16.

The Gators will take on the winner of tomorrow night’s game between No. 4 UCLA and No. 12 Stephen F. Austin.

If you were looking for a blueprint for what makes Florida so dangerous, you got it on Saturday. The Gators were downright menacing defensively, particularly at the start of the first half. Pitt shot just 37.1% from the floor, scored all of 45 points and hit 4-for-17 from beyond the arc on a night where the Gators committed just seven fouls the entire game.

Playing stifling defense without committing fouls is not an easy thing to do.

On the other side of the floor, the Gators struggled a bit early on, but they finally got into a rhythm in the second half. Florida committed six turnovers in the game and didn’t commit one in the second half until they dribbled out the shot clock up 16 on their final possession of the game. And as has been the case all season long, the difference-maker down the stretch was Wilbekin, who hit a series of ridiculously tough runners to keep the Panthers at bay. There may not be a player in the country that is as good as Wilbekin with the ball in his hands in crunch time, and I have the feeling that, at some point in the later rounds, that’s going to save the Gators.

But here’s what’s scary: think about what Florida can be if they start hitting their jump shots. On Saturday, the Gators were just 5-for-20 from beyond the arc. On Thursday, they shot just 3-for-12 from deep.

It’s not like they don’t have shooters. Michael Frazier II is as good as anyone in the country. Wilbekin can hit threes. Dorian Finney-Smith is streaky, but he can hit four or five in a given night when he gets it rolling.

Florida is as good as anyone in the country when their shots aren’t dropping.

When they are, they’re near-unbeatable.

As an aside, this is the fourth straight season that the Gators have made the Sweet 16. Patrick Young, Will Yeguete, Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather have all reached the Sweet 16 in every year they’re been in college. They’ve actually reached three Elite 8s as well, but they’ve never made the Final Four.

Is this the year they break that barrier?

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Villanova’s JayVaughn Pinkston accused of violating probation

    Feb 27, 2015, 10:20 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    An off-campus altercation back in 2010 led to a year-long suspension for the Villanova forward.

  2. Jim Boeheim uses classic rant about Gerry McNamara to praise Rakeem Christmas

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:15 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Jim Boeheim goes back almost nine years to describe Rakeem Christmas’ importance to this year’s team.

  3. Campbell’s Reco McCarter throws down 360 dunk … again (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 6:00 PM EST

    AP AP

    This isn’t the first time he’s done this in a game.

  4. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings will not be suspended

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

    AP AP

    The Vandy coach was quick to apology following last night’s incident.

  5. Michigan head coach John Beilein remains ‘hopeful’ that point guard will return this season

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Derrick Walton Jr. hasn’t played in just over a month, but he’s still bothered by an issue with his right foot.

  6. UTEP head coach Tim Floyd suspended one game by Conference USA

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:20 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Floyd was ejected with 10:05 remaining in the Miners’ 77-60 loss at Louisiana Tech, and he failed to leave the court in a timely manner.

  7. Florida reinstates junior forward following three-game suspension

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:59 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Billy Donovan would like to see his veteran forward make some strides in the commitment department moving forward.

  8. NCAA tournament berth the final step for St. John’s senior class

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:16 PM EST

    Steve Lavin's three seniors have the NCAA tournament in their sights (AP Photo) AP

    On the heels of St. John’s last NCAA appearance in 2011, seven players joined the program. Three remain, and their aim is to get to the Big Dance as seniors.

  9. Pregame Shootaround: Valparaiso looks to clinch outright Horizon League title

    Feb 27, 2015, 1:32 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Also of note is the second meeting of the season between rivals Iona and Manhattan.

  10. Junior guard starting to give No. 7 Arizona much-needed perimeter shooting

    Feb 27, 2015, 12:12 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Shooting 7-for-10 from three over the last two games, Gabe York has hit multiple three-pointers in consecutive games for the first time since mid-December. That’s a good development for Arizona.

  11. Bracketology: Kentucky reigns and March arrives

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:01 AM EST

    John Calipari, Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis John Calipari, Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis

    While the Wildcats continue to roll along, other one-seeds are up for discussion as the season moves into the month of March.

  12. Defensive lapses cost Michigan State dearly against Minnesota (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:55 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Leading by six with 34 seconds remaining in regulation, Michigan State looked to be on their way to a home win over Minnesota. Then they fouled three-point shooters on two separate occasions.

  13. Weekend Preview: Saturday will be the season’s best day of games

    Feb 27, 2015, 8:07 AM EST

    The Utes fell in Tucson, but they'll be fine (AP Photo) AP

    I hope you’re ready for a thrilling day of hoops.

  14. Late Night Snacks: Minnesota wins at Michigan State, No. 7 Arizona and No. 13 Utah roll

    Feb 27, 2015, 1:31 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Michigan State fouled three-point shooters on two separate occasions late in regulation, and it set the stage for an overtime loss at home.

  15. Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings apologizes for postgame outburst directed at freshman guard Wade Baldwin IV

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:47 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The Vandy freshman taunted a Tennessee player as time expired in the Commodores’ win, and his head coach read him the riot act in the handshake line.

  16. Bubble Banter: Just how safe is Michigan State, and did Ohio State punch a ticket?

    Feb 26, 2015, 10:29 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Who were the winners and the losers on the bubble on Thursday?

  17. Jae’Sean Tate produces another quality performance as Ohio State blows out Nebraska

    Feb 26, 2015, 9:17 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Tate scored a career-high 22 points Thursday night, and his move into the starting lineup has helped Ohio State.