Florida overcame a slow start and rode the hot shooting of Scottie Wilbekin to surge past Pittsburgh and into the Sweet 16 with a 61-45 win on Saturday in Orlando. Two days after a narrow win over Albany, the Gators again looked sluggish against the Panthers, falling behind 13-10 as Patric Young struggled in the paint. But Wilbekin’s running three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer sparked Florida to a 16-5 run that carried over into the second half.
From there, the Gators turned up the tempo. Wilbekin hit nine of his 15 attempts from the field for 21 points and the Gators executed several powerful dunks and impressive plays, including this nifty pass by Will Yeguete to Casey Prather.
The contest was a tough one for former D.C. area standouts James Robinson (DeMatha) and Talib Zanna (McNamara), who combined for 11 points.
Granted, while the Gators play was solid at times, perhaps the real reason behind Florida’s victory sat in the stands. New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick traded in his hoodie for a Gators visor and traveled to Orlando’s Amway Arena to see his good friend Billy Donavan coach the Gators to another Sweet 16.
Hey, Bill. pic.twitter.com/6XUr08ChAF
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) March 22, 2014
And for those who scoff at the notion that a school or coach’s NFL connections have nothing to do with a team’s tournament chances, look no further than Duke, who was upset by Mercer in Friday’s first round after having these Dallas Cowboys duo attend its game a few weeks ago.
— SportsPickle (@sportspickle) March 21, 2014