NCAA Game Summary - UCLA vs. Florida|
(Thursday, March 27th)
Final Score: Florida 79, UCLA 68
Memphis, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Another Florida-UCLA meeting in the NCAA
Tournament went the way of the Gators.
Michael Frazier II made five 3-pointers and scored a team-high 19 points and
top-seeded Florida ousted the Bruins for the fourth time in the last nine
seasons with a tense 79-68 victory in a familiar Sweet 16 showdown.
Florida has now reached the Elite Eight four straight years, and while the
previous three all ended in defeats, the Gators get another shot at a Final
Four appearance on Saturday against upstart Dayton. The 11th-seeded Flyers
beat Stanford, 82-72, in Thursday's other South Region matchup at FedEx Forum.
"They're a great team. Everybody is at this point in the season, and so we got
to be locked in and ready because it's going to be a battle," Gators senior
guard Scottie Wilbekin said.
The nightcap was a tight affair despite what the final score may indicate and
the fact that Gators (35-2) never trailed in the second half.
UCLA (28-9) was within one with 10 minutes to go before SEC Player of the Year
Wilbekin stepped up and scored eight of his 13 points in the final
six-plus minutes to help Florida pull away for its 29th consecutive win.
"That's what you expect out of your senior point guard. He's been here in the
Sweet 16 four years. He made big shots," UCLA's Kyle Anderson said of
Casey Prather added 12 points and Dorian Finney-Smith netted 10 in the win.
Jordan Adams led the fourth-seeded Bruins with 17 points, while Travis Wear
had 14 for the Pac-12 Tournament champions, who also lost to Florida in the
2006 title game, the 2007 Final Four and the 2011 round-of-32.
A Chris Walker layup prior to the first official stoppage of the second half
stretched Florida's lead to 50-39, forcing first-year Bruins head coach Steve
Alford to call a timeout and settle down his troops.
The strategy worked, as UCLA scored the next seven points out of the break and
pulled within 56-55 on Norman Powell's take to the hole at the midway point.
The Bruins, though, suddenly went cold, missing seven consecutive shots during
the Gators' game-deciding 10-0 run that Wilbekin capped with six quick points.
First, the UCLA defense backed off Wilbekin along the right wing. The streaky
guard, who was 1-for-7 from the perimeter at the time, settled his feet and
drained a dagger 3-pointer, then drove to his right, split two defenders and
got a tough runner to fall while being fouled.
The three-point play gave Florida a 66-55 cushion with 5:34 remaining, and
after the Bruins cut the deficit to five down the stretch, Wilbekin kept them
at bay with a jaw-dropping, off-balanced fallaway from the baseline.
Wear and Adams missed 3-point tries on UCLA's next two possessions to end any
chance at a comeback.
The Gators stuck to their usual script of slowly coming out of the gates
before finding their rhythm.
They missed their first four shots and were trailing 14-11 early on before a
flurry of 3-pointers gave them a lead they never relinquished. Wilbekin began
the surge with a deep make and Frazier kicked in a pair the next two times
down to give Florida a 20-16 cushion with 11 1/2 minutes left in the half.
The margin reached nine, 28-19, before UCLA made it a one-possession game
again with seven consecutive points, the last three coming when Zach LaVine
scored over Patric Young while being fouled.
The Bruins, though, made just one field goal over the final six minutes, and
Walker closed the opening half scoring with a putback off his own missed free
throw for a 36-30 Florida lead.
Florida defeated Albany and Pittsburgh to reach the Sweet 16, while UCLA got
past a pair of double-digit seeds in Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin ... Florida
made half of its shots (29-of-58) ... Kasey Hill recorded 10 of the Gators' 22
assists ... Florida owned a 40-30 rebounding advantage ... UCLA shot just 3-
of-18 from 3-point range.
03/28 01:53:28 ET